Perhaps when I was younger, I was just naive. Curious, eager to please, excited to delve into a new culture.
I know I have shared with you how I have hosted 14 exchange students over the years. What that basically means is, I would pick out a child from a profile (usually between 16 - 18 years old) and they would come and live with me for a school semester, a summer, or a year. Living with another culture and visiting another culture is entirely two different things. Being a tourist versus engaging 100% of your heart & soul into the lives and customs of another is a completely different ball game.
Clearly I LIVE it and mostly I love it.. but sometimes.. it can be scary. Why? Because I am deeply on the other side now.
No more polite smiles and agreeable tones. No more light debates and random intriguing, if not sometimes overly personal questions. Now I am more of an insider. I SEE and understand what the "other side" really thinks. Sure, they will say one thing to most people, but I actually experience the truth.
Like tomorrow. I am soooo nervous about tomorrow. So nervous that I thought I would just write it all out here. It's safe here, right? Just my (oh couple hundred) friends?! LOL
Here's the thing. You guys know that my husband, the egyptian, is out of the country until December. Well... he has a friend from the mosque. (For my new followers - he is muslim. I am not.) And this friend is married with children. They are about my age or a little older. I have never met this family. Before the egyptian left for home, he made arrangements for me to meet the wife. So, I timidly called the wife and after a few short phone calls, we have arranged to meet one another tomorrow. At her home. With her family. For dinner.
I am nervous about this. 1. I don't know this family. 2. They are from Alexandria, Egypt (just like my husband.) 3. They are our neighbors - literally - about 4 apartment buildings up the hill. 4. The wife teaches at the Islamic School.
Which tells me one thing - or begs to ask the question - DO THEY KNOW I AM CHRISTIAN?
I assume they know. But we know what assuming will get you. I am not so naive to think they will be blown away by my charming personality (heh heh heh.) I know what the stigma is for a muslim man to be married to a christian woman. I know how they really feel about most americans. And yes, I know they will be gracious, and kind, and show amazing hospitality.
But I have to do this one - ALONE. That's right. It's just me. And I know how this can play out. I am representing my husband. In a basic American home - not a big deal, we tend to separate the two. Not in this case. NOT ONLY THAT - the wife says there is a position at the school where the egyptian could possibly land a position. The husband told my husband that the principal would need to meet with me, and I am to "hold" the interview for him. WHAT?
Very political. Very nerve wracking.
I am excited to make, very possibly, a new life-long friend. Or make an absolute ass out of myself. Depends on how much turkish coffee they serve.
I am very outgoing, but actually am quite shy. Does that make sense at all? I force myself to talk. Handling this - with all of the customs (to take shoes off in the house upon entering or not/dressing conservatively enough/noticing that they notice that I do not have a hajib on (covering of head), possibly asking too many questions of the husband... ) etc. etc. It is a complicated culture. One I gladly married into, but one that I usually have a guide leading me.
Okay. *deep breath.* I can do this. I know I can. I just needed to "work it out in my head." Or with you!