” You Americans have difficulty attaching in your relationships.”
My first thought was “what psychology book had she been reading lately?” This beautiful woman that I met only a few weeks ago on our bi-weekly trip to the park. But I knew that she was trying to prove her extensive knowledge on my culture because she is, well, obsessed.
Many people here are obsessed with American culture. I once had a girl ask me where I was from and she said ” OH my GOD! And touched me giggling and gasping like girls do with teenage superstar hearthrobs.
” What am I the first American you have met?” I asked sarcastily, “YES!” was her reply.
We often have people asking us all kinds of crazy questions about America and Hollywood. Josiah was meeting with a grown man in his 40’s for language and he asked J to translate the Britney spears pop song on this grown man’s ring-tone (also father, husband and owner of a successful business).
When I first met this woman I told her my name and she started calling me Heidi Klum. Imagine a grown woman wearing a niquab (black veil over her face only revealing her eyes) calling me Heidi Klum in an endearing tone. Please, NO! Don’t associate me with her!
I asked her how she knew about her and she said she has read more than 5,000 American English books. That’s probably why she knew English so well. She is the first person I have met here with perfect sentence structure. Even fairly fluent people are always missing prepositions here and there and using a plural when its supposed to be a singular. Yet she has never set foot in America, although SURPRISE SURPRISE, her ex-husband is there and her brother is living in none other than Sacramento, California.
“Why do you say that?” I responded to her judgment of my failure to attach.
” Why haven’t you called me or come to see me?” she asked.
” I came to see you Wednesday but you weren’t here” I said.
“I got bored and went to visit a friend,” she confesses.
” Sorry, I could have called, but I am not much of a phone talker. I used to talk more on the phone when I didn’t have kids, but now its just frustrating cause I can never hear or complete my sentences, let alone focus for very long. ”
She trails off on some random advice/ scolding me on letting my baby run the show by answering his every cry. I responded with shock and laughter. This was an Indian talking to me, she definitely grew up in this cultures that surrounds me. The one that always wants to shush all my children when crying by giving them candy or telling me the baby is hungry, go feed him, NOW. I reminded her of that. She couldn’t deny it.
But I came back to the deeper cultural discussion. ” If I was Indian how often would I call you?”
” Every 3 or 4 days,” she says, “you don’t have to talk for long, just a quick hello will do.”
So this conversation corrected an attitude in my heart today. You see I have been battling with what I interpret as a whole host of “needy” people beating down my door. And like most people, I RUN from needy people. (by most people I mean American, *shy smile* how enthnocentric is that? Especially for someone who now lives in a country that contains alot of the “most people” in the world).
When every friend you make here asks you why you haven’t come by there shop, house, etc. in 2 days? or why you didn’t call them to tell you arrived safely in Delhi when your train pulled in? or showed up on your doorstep to hang out at 8 in the morning when you just left from having dinner at their house at 11 pm the night before.
My instinct to all this has been, BACK OFF. Noooo, I didn’t say that but it makes me feel claustrophobic and has left me wondering if we are just magnets for the lonely co-dependent types, or are Indians just like this. As much as I don’t understand it, it’s probably the latter.
Well, today I decided I was definitley reacting and looking at all this from my cultural lens. Independent is good, attractive, healthy. Co – dependent is unhealthy.
But not in this culture. Co-dependent is healthy and independent is somehow fractured, broken. Independent doesn’t make sense here.
So maybe to communicate to my friends that I care and I am really invested in my relationships with them I need to just act and make that call as I step off the train dragging 4 children behind, in front of, all about me, with my luggage and trying to keep up with my husband, to tell them I arrived safely, so far.
This somehow reflects God’s desire for his church. To need, rely on, and support one another. In the relationship of staying connected in these many small ways we are reflecting His very nature. We are being one body, one mind, one spirit. And here amongst a people where the majority aren’t walking in his spirit there is this redeeming quality of connectedness.
As I stood in the kitchen, my barefeet on the marble, beginning to throb, I mulled over these things. The song from George Straight came out of the speakers from my bedroom ” I saw God today” and I knew it was a gift from Him showing me his presence in new ways, in surprising sweeping statements from beautiful Muslim women that don’t really know me, but somehow manage to pinpoint that I actually do have problems attaching in relationships.
And yet there was a little person in his bedroom crying in his crib just a few steps away. Tears were sadly streaming down his face as I was getting dinner placed on the table, cause he has no problems attaching and he wanted to be picked up and cuddled, talked to. If his country theme song were playing it would be ” Aint no place that I rather be, on your hip for eternity”. And though sometimes he picks the most difficult times to want this, I was quickly reminded of how very thankful I am to have this 18 pounder building my left bicep as I try to get things done around the house.
As I carry him in the sibs room giving them cleaning instructions before dinner, a text comes thru from my friend here in India. She is an expat also and just had her 16 week ultrasound. Baby has a heartbeat (cause she has had one without, and I know that fear all too well, so I prayed while kneading the pizza dough just an hour before) but her fluid is low. Her hearts seizing, and mine with her. Will she lose again? Never has the weight on my hip and little hands pounding me happily in the chest felt so good!
It is such a “funny” thing to be stressed by my children’s neediness one minute and thanking God immensly for it the next.
forgive me if I end this post. My 2 1/2 half year old just wandered in my room, blanket in tow ” I need some cuddles”.
note to self: attachments are healthy, make more of them.