The reasons why our home assignment looming brings much excitement but also nervous trepidation are many. Here’s a few humorous (and semi-horrifying to confess) examples
Example 1: I see a post on social media in which a mother confesses to wearing the same sweatshirt for three days in one week to three different events and I realize...
Sometimes, I wear the same clothes for as many days as I can before I pick up fleas. Yikes.
Example 2: While getting a lower body hug from my girls, they complimented me on my “fat, squishy legs"
In Ethiopian culture, being called “fat” is a positive comment, if someone calls you skinny, it’s disrespectful and saying you look unhealthy.
Example 3: Sitting in a mud hut, enjoying the coffee, trying to follow conversation and feeling out of it, but realizing, this currently feels as known to me as :
Sitting in a room full of women in a beautiful home, chitchatting about things I don’t know about anymore.
Example 4: The spiders in our house. A few strategic ones that mind their own business have been named and are allowed to live because they are more valuable catching the annoying little bugs. (Don’t worry, if you visit, we will do our best to get them all…but we can’t…but they aren’t aggressive, so you can still book your flights. :))
Both places I don’t feel 100% belonging.
On the airport floor, using their backpacks as pillows (excuse the undies)
I heard the perfect analogy for this from a fellow expatriate.
Let’s assign the USA a color, yellow.
Before, we thought yellow, we dreamed yellow, we were yellow.
We love yellow.
For the sake of the illustration, Ethiopia is blue.
We now partake in many blue events, we eat blue, try to understand blue, we are trying to be blue.
We love blue.
And we come out a nice shade of green.
One foot in two worlds, straddling both, trying to juggle in spite of our awkward fumbles, leaving us feeling a bit out of sync in both.
As I explained to the Littles that we shouldn’t mention to anyone in the US that they are “fat”, the girls said, “Yeah, in American culture that’s not okay, but we can stick our tongues out to be funny in that culture”. Or upon hearing a dear (American) friend mention her “butt”, Little A leans over and whispers to me, “It’s okay Mama, in their family's culture, that’s what they say.”
And here we come, our green culture, we’ll try to chameleon and in advance, if The Littles call you “fat” they sincerely mean it in the nicest, possible way.