I was stting with my elbow propped on the arm of the sofa, chin in hand, when the seductive scent of lunch, still firmly attached to my fingers, teased at my right nostril. The spicy smell of berbere immediately took me back to my seat at the Eritrean restaurant where I’d dined six hours ago. I took a few breaths to savor the powerful, exotic smell, and start thinking. My first thought was of course, “Damn, I wish I had some now.”, my second thought, however, was about my upbringing and cultural exposure. I don’t mean how I attended the ballet, traveled through Europe or attended International School (I did nary a one of those things as a child). Rather, I’m referring to being raised amongst a major clusterf#*k of peoples and accompanying cultures. And I actually had to catch my breath. Like you do when you realized the flight you were scheduled to be on crashed with no survivors. It was like that…sort of. Listen, I grew up here in DC with no concept of NOT having my friends parents speak different languages, cook different foods and behave in very different ways. No concept of everyone around me generally looking alike, acting alike, or for that matter – smelling alike. If I boil it down, I have to say, I had no real concept of sameness. The reason I had to catch my breath is because the thought occured to me – “What if I had been born and raised in some middle American town with no diversity or one of those countries that largely consists of just one ethnic group – I mean – we don’t get to choose these things, people!” In the moment I had the thought my physical reaction was one of someone who has just had a brush with danger -a near miss.