Today, for example, I went on a walk with my baby, Evan. I walked to a nearby flea market, which reminded me so much of an Indonesian pasar (market) that I had to keep reminding myself where I was. When I went into one particular booth, the owner of the booth greeted me with a question about my baby, asking me if he was getting heavy to carry in my baby bjorn carrier. I started to come out with the Indonesian response of "memang betul" (yes, that's right). And it took me about a minute before I could come up with the English equivalent. I felt stupid standing there staring at the guy, saying nothing. My tongue felt awkward as I tried to speak the right language.
Today reminded me again how I live in between two cultures. I am American and love many things American--pizza, orderly traffic, Starbucks, seasons, Christmas, space, Wal-Mart. But I've become a bit Indonesian too. I love chatting with shop owners, bargaining for items, simple living, warm weather, laid back time, etc.
When I first started my six-month furlough a couple months ago, I remember feeling disoriented, trying to fit back into American culture. Most days, now I feel pretty well adjusted--that is until it sneaks back up on me like today.
Having lived in both cultures for years now, I enjoy seeing the things that are the same, too. Here are a few that both American and Indonesian cultures do well:
-Both cultures love children. (I was surprised at how many Americans stop what they're doing to greet my baby, which is sooo Indonesian.)
-Both cultures are really friendly.
-Both cultures are sometimes safe, sometimes dangerous. Like on Christmas Eve, at a mall five miles from where I live here in Indiana, a man shot a woman who took his parking space.
-And of course, both cultures have delicious food. I think the pizza I just ordered is about to arrive, so I'm going to go partake of one of my favorite parts of American culture.