Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Things I Won't Say...And What I Wish You Would Part 1: Day 1,428

I recently took a trip to the US to visit some of my family and friends, and as always happens, people inevitably say stuff that I have no clue how to respond to.  Sometimes it's just a question without an answer, but sometimes it's somewhat hurtful as well.

You say: How long are you home for?
I think:  First of all, I'm not home.  Some days I'm not sure where home is or, rather, if I have one, but this is not home.  Second of all, it's really none of your business how long I'm here for.  You weren't making plans to hang out with me anyway.
I say: I'm here for two weeks.

You say: It must be nice to be home.
I think: Again, I'm not home.  And while it is nice to catch up with people, I have two cats and a dog who I worry about while I'm here.  I have people who might want to meet with me.  And I have much better downtime activities in Guatemala than I do here.  I have numbers to crunch and projects to stay on top of.  Really, this trip cuts into my life, but the Guatemalan government kicks me out ever 180 days.  I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be.
I say: It's nice to see people.

You say: I really like reading your newsletter articles.
I think: Yeah, well...I haven't written one in two months.  People haven't been scheduling the meetings like they were supposed to. I'm frustrated, and I feel like a little bit of a failure since I don't have news to share with you.  So, I just don't write.  I mean, what do you want me to tell you?  That I've spent the last two months learning to cook Guatemalan food and weaving? Do missionaries even do that kind of thing?
I say: Thanks.  You know, I write more posts on my blog as well if you want more to read. (Er, sometimes.)

You say: It must really be different being back.
I think: Whew!  At least you didn't say 'home.'  But I'm not really 'back' either.  I'm more of a traveler passing through.  And of course here is different from there.  I mean, you throw your toilet paper in the toilet here!  Your food comes out of cans and boxes!  I'm staying in a house with insulation, two freezers, and a television!  When I'm here, my parents fund my stay; they let me use the car and they buy me food.  Here I live with people instead of animals.  Here my neighbors are far away while there I have a neighbor who calls me to come over to her house by yelling over the wall.  Here I drive, and there I use public transportation.  Here I speak English and there I speak Spanish...and sometimes the few words of Kaqchikel that I know.  Here I hardly walk anywhere; there I walk everywhere.  I mean, YES!, it's as different as night and day or black and white or any other opposites you can think of.  Okay...maybe not opposites, but different, very different. I don't even know where to start explaining the differences to you.  But DIFFERENT ISN'T BAD...just different.
I laugh and say: Well, yeah, the language for one.

You say: So, you meet anyone yet?
I think: Well, sure, I meet people all the time, but that's not what you're asking here.  I just don't know how to explain to you that while there is someone super important and special in my life, that's not why I'm down in Guatemala.  That's not why I prefer there to here.  That's not related at all.  And I know you're thinking that I must be getting old.  And I know you're thinking that a woman like me shouldn't stay single.  But with my relationship track record, it's not something I'm really comfortable talking about until I know it's going to happen.  I can be as sure as I want, but until the documents are signed, I kind of figure it won't work out for me.  So, while I'd love to tell you all about him, I won't...because it's complicated being in a relationship with someone from another culture.
I say: All in God's timing.


  1. We all have our scripts that provide us with the most convenient things to say. For experiences closest enough to what we know, these kinds of remarks can be fine, even sincere or decent. But, alas, you've gone off script, Annalisa, and one of the best ways to show how lousy we can be at communicating with or understanding one another is to go off script. The folk you know here up north aren't very good at improvising. Just like most of the rest of us.

    Enjoy your time in the location of unspecified character as you're able. Best of luck upon your return. (Of all poor improvisers, I am the chief, by the way.)

    1. Thanks, Virgil. :) I'm back where I feel I belong now.

      I know that no one is trying to be hurtful with what they say which is why I try to answer with as much grace as possible. Most of them are just trying to make small talk. Those who aren't tend to make themselves known.