Home is Where we Hook-up

July 20, 2008

Fitting In

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 6:46 am

So far on this trip, all five days of it, I have yet to be identified correctly as an American. At least, not to my face. Some of the looks I get indicate that I am definitely not fooling anyone. And I’m not trying to, either. I’m proud to be an American, proud and extremely grateful to have come from that lucky sperm club. I do like to blend in, better chance of seeing the local side of things. There is something very satisfying to me when I am mistakenly addressed with “Bonjour”, like on the train the day of my arrival. Or as a first guess, identified as German by the man at the small produce shop down the alleyway. The information center girl asked me “Are you English?” and repeated my reply with questioning surpise “Ohhh, your American?” I walk out the door feeling good about myself, like I have broken a stereotype or two of the “ugly American”, without compromising my own identity. This boils down to respect, at least I think it does.

Eight years of good fortune traveling alongside Keith to Australia, Italy, Greece, Belize, and scattered countries along the way. Eight years of sometimes sticking out like a sore thumb, being lost and unable to ask for assistance, chased away for peeking in a workshop, yelled at for walking IN the OUT door, and even threatened by pickpockets. My friend Erika saved us and chastised them in Italian with “Please, boys, don’t make me break your balls”, ran them off, but she was shaking afterward. She was on her way to audition in Bologna for a role on Donna Ventura, an Italian reality show. I told her to use that story as an example of why she should be picked for “Adventure Woman” (loosely translated). Didn’t get the part, but we had a great trip.

Anyway, through the years I’ve begun to dress more conscientious of the locale I am visiting. Heck, ya know skirts are way more comfy anyway – most times. I always attempt to speak the language, even if it is just to say that I don’t speak the language. Just give me 25 more years and I will be fluent in Greek! I am quiet when walking the deserted streets between 1-3 p.m. when most people are having lunch and napping. I know the camera in my hand screams tourista! and there is nothing to be done about that, I will not put it away, these images are far to precious not to capture in some form. I do not take intentional pictures of a person without asking their permission, boy have we learned that one the hard way. This rule excludes the masses at the beach, on city streets, etc., fair game there.

None of these things feel to me as if I am pretending to be anything I’m not, it always feels like a good healthy dose of respect for myself and my surroundings. We all expect other nationalities immigrating to the U.S. to know our customs and language, that in itself makes it the right thing to do in other countries.


1 Comment »

  1. I always feel accomplished when I’m mistaken as a local, not sure how it happens, but somehow I manage to blend in. I love reading your posts because I can tell how much you are enjoying life 🙂

    Comment by JennH — July 21, 2008 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

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