Thursday, June 9, 2011

dare i begin?

Ok. Deep breath. I am breaking the blog silence at last. The idea of trying to put anything of the last several months into words is overwhelming. Like trying to move Mt. Everest. So, perhaps I will just give small snapshots of different angles of what has been happening, and in the end those snapshots will add up to that big picture that I seem to be unable to face head on.

Today's snap shot will be on culture shock. Oh, yes. Even in returning to my own culture. I can't imagine how it must feel to a person arriving for the first time--if it affects me so much. The first time throught an HEB after being in Mexico was almost too much. Our biggest store in Fresnillo would have fit into 1/3 or 1/4 of that store. There were just about 200 versions of everything. What? 700 kinds of beans? I've gotten used to picking from 4. Gracious sakes, there is so much of everything! How will I ever decide? I have actually read that our American way of having so much selection actually creates more stress because you are constantly trying to decide which of the million is best, and then second-guessing yourself later. I was feeling that stress big time. And then--when I realized I had forgotten something and had to treck to the other end of the store, I was almost done for! ;)

Another big adjustment for me is the social aspect. Not because there is more of it, but just because I have finally gotten my head around the "Mexican way" of relating--that now I often feel very socially ackward. I no longer know what the "hot button" topics are, what the "typical response" is to many things. I no longer feel that I instinctively know how much personal space is good, and--ohmygoodness--the greet. Sigh. In Mexico it is a capital and personal offense if you don't physically greet each person in a room. At least a handshake, and for friends a kiss on the cheek. This is repeated when it's time to say goodbye. Here I feel an ackward mental scrambling: Oh! I know him! Shake his hand. Oh, wait. That's too formal here. Mmm, a hug might seem too forward. Fist bump?

Another thing that I'd gotten used to was being stared at. Being one of about 6 white people in the town will do that for you. I'd kind of just marked it off as coming with the territory and thought about when I'd be back with my peeps and blending in with the woodwork. The fact that I still often catch people staring at me makes me doubly self-conscious. Am I so obviously 3 years behind the times? What is everyone else doing so I can copy that?

So, if you see me out and about--wide mouthed and with a seeming inability to make eye contact... chances are I am not avoiding you. It's very likely that I am just failing at blending in. Again.


  1. Thanks for the honest update, Liz. I have been wondering how the transition has been going. Keep these posts comin'! I have your Thanksgiving family postcard on the fridge and say a quick little prayer for you guys every time I look at it.

  2. And don't pick up a stranger's baby! ha ha

  3. sarah-- aww! that is so great to know that you are praying. thanks!!

    ellen--i know. the "what's yours is mine" thing doesn't really fly anymore... ;)

  4. i hear you. A month later, still HEB wears me out. And I second guess the handshake/hug/cheek kiss thing too. I was in a Spanish worship service last night and all the ladies kissed me. ((smile!!))
    press on, sister!!


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