Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things that take you back: ordering a Subway sandwich

After a gym workout this evening, I went looking for something to eat and noticed a Subway sandwich shop at Shaw and Palm, across from the Fig Garden Village center. I pulled up just a few minutes before closing and was not surprised to see a young Indian woman behind the counter. So far, every Subway I've visited in Fresno has been owned by Indians. Gotta love that enterprising spirit. Can you imagine going to India and monopolizing the samosa industry?

In Panama I went to Subway more often than I ever did in the USA. When I lived in El Dorado I frequented the one on the "Do-It Center" street, in the small shopping center that has the two Chinese vegetarian restaurants. After I moved to El Valle de Anton, I used to stop at the Subway in Coronado whenever I was on my way back from the city. The first several times I had to ask the names of the various sandwich ingredients, and the staff always answered me with a chuckle or a smirk. In time, as my Spanish improved and I racked up the Subway visits, I became very comfortable ordering in Spanish.

Walking into the Subway tonight, I had a flashback to Panama, and had to resist the urge to order "atun grande con pan integral."

Somehow life in Panama was richer, more full of the "stuff of life" in a way. More friendships, more interesting experiences, more challenges, more frustration and laughter and spirit-lifting beauty.

I was talking to a friend recently, and I said that I didn't know how to think of Panama now. What is it to me? What does it represent? And my friend said, "I think it is your home."