Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Foreigner at Home

I feel foreign when...

  • I forget to wear my high heels and my long summer dress when we go for a stroll in the park.

  • Peter and I hold hands in public. Mothers and Fathers hold their children's hands; couples link arms.

  • Cigarette smoke bothers me.

  • I am with a large crowd of Americans.

  • When I attempt to speak Russian.

  • When I only understand one full sentence of Russian.

  • I look around and realize that no one looks like me. Strange! (Although, if I upped the dressiness level of my outfit, I could pass for Russian).

  • We buy bacon from the same place we buy homestyle chocolate chip cookies.
  • I flinch when a car gets a little too close to me.

I feel at home when...

  • I chat it up with the girl at the samci stand.

  • The woman at the rotisserie chicken stand (next to the little shop we go to to buy American chocolate chip cookies) says, “Ne Vedila Vam Davno” (I haven't seen you in a long time) after summer break.

  • When I can say “Well, it is Kyrgyzstan after all” in response to oh so many things – like how cars run the stoplights, how things are always done last minute, how it is hard or impossible to find this or that or the other etc... but would feel defensive if an outsider made the same comment.

  • When I understand a full sentence of Russian.

  • When I can show the new-hires their way around town.

  • When I boldly (albeit stupidly) walk across a crosswalk just because everybody else is, not because it is our turn to cross.

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