Know what this jacket means? Me neither. But someone was walking down the street outside our apartment complex was wearing it.
After the question of, “Where are you from?” often comes the next one, “Are you adjusted to living here?” After six years of living here I can say I’m adjusting to the food, the customs, the way of life. But the question no one asks is, “Are you adjusted to being Not Sure?”
That’s what it’s like for me much of the time. Existing in that precarious “Not Sure” state of being. I think that describes, at least in my case, a good sense of the feeling of living in a country where you didn’t grow up. I mean I can guess, I can even make educated guesses sometimes, but I’m Never Quite Sure about the meaning of a gesture, an action or what I’m supposed to do in a given situation. Is this person asking if we have electricity today or making sure the repairman came to fix our elevator? Are we meeting for a quick lunch of noodles or going to a graduation reception? Should I bike in front of him or is he going to accelerate and hit me with his car? Are we going shopping at 10am to buy groceries together or are you coming to my house at 11 to teach me how to make Chinese food?
I’m used to eating with chopsticks, negotiating at the market, arranging meeting with friends, but living in a nearly constant state of “Not Sure” is the harder adjustment to make. I wonder if I’ll ever be used to that.