Monday, July 7, 2008

Toy Houses


My uncle was married this last weekend to a Ukrainian woman named Nadya. Being her first time in America (and our first time to meet) we covered the usual 'who are you' topics (i.e., Good to meet you, what do you do for a living, my! that's a lovely blouse, etc., etc.). ...and then silence. What do you talk about with someone so completely different than you? And then as we were sitting on a bench outside Blue Mesa, waiting for our table, she something really weird. "America is like a little toy country." You have your toy houses and toy cars and everything is so pretty here with flowers and plants." They don't have such things in the Ukraine. Most streets are not paved - if we were sitting on a bench there we'd be covered in dust - "It's hard to see birds in the cities". They have so many chemicals and acid rain(!) (yes!, acid rain! - the kind from the cartoons that burns your clothes and skin off!). She didn't say it bitterly - just in a sort of a matter-of-the-fact way (like she was discussing a book). She went on to express how happy she was to be here and how very happy she was that she could call me family (Do you ever notice how people from other countries are almost too nice?!). Just as I was struggling to think of something equally nice to say to back (without repeating what she'd just said back to her -- since that never sounds sincere) she started talking about how nervous she was that she'd fall on her face in the middle of the wedding... which merged into another story about her disastrous new skin treatment she tried a few days before the wedding and had an allergic reaction.. and then she tried to correct it by getting a prescription cream that actually made it worse... It seems women are women no matter where they grew up.

My dad had told me they originally planned to marry several months ago but had postponed the wedding because Nadaya wasn't sure about coming to the U.S. She has a twenty-something son (who's name, I believe, is Surgay(sp?) ) anyway he is still in college and speaks very little English. I think he may be her only family(?) and she was nervous about leaving him and everything she'd known. (again I can relate ...well sort of) I guess she got over it, though... and I guess you're never too old to take chances. (not that I'm calling anyone old) ;) I think she just deeply impressed me and I can't really even pinpoint why. It did make me think about how extremely narrow my focus is. I thought California to Texas was a big change. However, I'm still living in my toy house and my toy life. Surrounded by comfort and not really even aware of what I've taken for granted.

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