Monday, October 11, 2010

So hot right now.

Style in Rwanda can be described as: old meets older. By that I mean… Rwandans have found a chic way of mixing second hand market clothing with traditional Rwandan fabrics, keeping in mind that second hand market clothing is usually the clothing that isn’t sold within a year at Salvation Army. A common sight is a woman walking down the street, balancing a jug of water on her head, wearing a traditional Rwandan skirt and a shirt that advertises SPAM.

I often have to remind myself that, for the most part, Rwandans don’t know what the clothing they’re wearing really means. For example, when group of kids surrounds me and one of them is wearing a Eli Manning or a Buffalo Bills jersey (there are an unfortunately large number of Bills jerseys here…I guess nobody in the US wanted them??) – he immediately becomes my favorite in the group, for no more reason than his mom selected just the right shirt at the market to win over my heart. There’s also a man that’s often at the track wearing a lacrosse sweatshirt. I just wish it meant he actually had lacrosse sticks and that we could play together.

I’ve been slowly coming to remember this (after an interaction telling a girl that she couldn’t play pick-up volleyball with us because she actually plays and would be too good…only to eventually come to realize that the volleyball sweatshirt she had on was not her team’s gear), but last weekend, I spotted the love of my life: he was wearing madras shorts and polo shirt, collar popped in a bar in Kiagli. As I explained to the girls with me…you don’t pop a collar on accident. He totally knew what his outfit meant. They rolled their eyes and went along with me, and then pressured me into talking to him. I worked up the courage to tell him “You must know what your outfit means to me.”

I got distracted on my way over (it was salsa night) and by the time the screaming group of girls got my attention, the preppiest Rwandan in Kigali was out the door of the bar, and out of my boarding school clutches.

A few minutes later, one of the girls pointed out that a similarly dressed man had entered the bar. Oh no way! Two preppy guys in one evening! But I looked over in the general direction and was disappointed to see…nothing…just a few guys wearing bedazzled jeans and one wearing an Abercrombie polo…no idea what she was referring to as preppy. So my night ended in disappointment and a reverted back to speaking to the one other white guy in the bar.

Maybe it was for the better that the love of those five minutes of my life left the bar, but I believe I will always remember him as the one who got away.

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