Friday, May 11, 2007

Mentally preparing

We're going to Canada tomorrow. We haven't been up there since our Chinese wedding reception last year (we were waiting for a green card and couldn't leave the US), so it's time for a visit. I'm kind of dreading it though. Canada trips are always hard. There's nothing wrong with Canada as a country, it's a lovely place. And I really like Vancouver. It's just hard to suddenly be picked up out of my normal world and dropped into "Chinese-land." It's probably good for me, for a few days, I get to experience what my husband lives through every day- being the minority. Except I think it's harder for me, because he's used to both worlds- he's been living in two worlds since he was 8, and understands both languages and both sets of customs. I know nothing about his world still. Partially because he has a hard time explaining things to me, and partially because it's still only been 3 years since we met, and we haven't spent that much time in Canada with his family.

I just worry the whole time I'm there that I'm going to do or say something that offends someone. Not so much Daniel's parents, but an aunt or uncle or someone at church. And then there's the most stressful part of any visit- the big dinner. This will be the scene Saturday night- 15 Chinese people and one 6.5 month pregnant white girl, sitting around a large table in a bustling Chinese restaurant. Piles of raw meat are put in front of everyone, and they all start cooking them in the boiling pot in the middle of the table. White girl focuses on not mixing up her food with the scarier things on other people's plates and stares at other tables, while blocking out the conversation in Cantonese going on at her table. This continues for 15-20 minutes. Suddenly, 15 Chinese people stop talking, turn to her and say "so what do you think about such-and-such (usually political or religious question)." Keep in mind she has NO context for this question, since they haven't been speaking English, and she may or may not be understanding the question properly, since it was asked in heavily-accented English. Terror runs through her. She tries to answer, manages to come up with something not too stupid, and then suddenly develops a coughing fit to try to deflect the attention. Repeat process 30 minutes later.

I love my husband and I think his family is very nice. And I'm thrilled that our baby is going to grow up with such a rich culture to learn about and so many unusual things in his life. But it's still hard- not belonging to this world that Daniel (and the baby as well) do belong to.

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