Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sherpas unite!

I am a Sherpa. I walk the line between carrying and hauling. I am a human masquerading as donkey via Sherpa. I make my way along the city streets of my neighborhood. I carry boxes, bags, odd shaped items along the paths of concrete en masse to my abode. My seasonal trek depends on need, location and connection to the places I navigate.

Sometimes I see other Sherpas making their way through the canyons of my city. I see them in the distance, colorful silhouettes, schlepping backpacks, odd shaped cases, packages and bags. Most often, I see them with odd black bags on small wheels that they pull along, walking fast, eyes darting about. Typically, taxi cabs as yellow ego mobiles honk at us as we parade along our daily routes, their honks portraying their lack of understanding of the Sherpas' urban pedestrian ways.

Most Sherpas have tugged cardboard boxes, two or more suitcases, large packs of toilet paper shrink-wrapped and white bags with groceries weighing us down. An experienced Sherpa will know that it is best to carry the carton of milk with double plastic bags. Periodically, I will see a Sherpa wrestling with a chair, or large bags of what appears to be laundry. Most Sherpas are polite to others along the high-streets, we know how to carry the items without bumping others, we know that we are practicing an inner code of silence when sharing the city streets.

As a good Sherpa I travel to and fro along the train lines that connect my urban village to others. A good Sherpa knows his or her way around and understands the intrinsic value of the map. As visitor to other villages within the confines of my city, I am identified as "other." I carry items with me that denote I am from another place. The local is "other" confined within the locale.

In my treks outside of the transit free-zones, I realize that the way of the Sherpa is that which is a shared experience. I see a Sherpa approaching with a perambulator with a baby tucked inside, the Sherpa is carrying items in brown bags, as well as the four-wheeled device which is loaded down with items. I try to catch her eye, as if—"We are the same, I too merge my life as a Sherpa"—she glances away and pushes off into the distance behind me. I make the humble realization that our group has not unified as of yet, as there are too many of us navigating the city at any given time.