One of the most interesting results of the union between the mister and I, is our integration into each other's families. We are fortunate that even though it took a bit of warming up from both sides at the beginning, we do get along with each others' supporting casts rather well.
We're both sort of a novelty to the other's circles, with neither of our families having members outside our own race. For him, the challenge lied in getting used to the food and all the fingers pointing at him amongst the Chinese conversation. He got lucky, however, since his quick pick up of the game of mahjong won over just about everyone in a snap.
I thought in the beginning that it would be easy for me to fit in with his crowd, since I grew up with friends covering the entire rainbow. Turns out, however, that while I have always embraced and adjusted easily to different environments, the diverse environment had always embraced and adjusted in return. Oh how I missed what I didn't even realize I had, until it was gone...
The mister's friends and family are not at all unaccommodating. For the most part they are an educated and understanding group, comprehend the idea that people are just people, and that Americans include folks from many races. Somehow though, perhaps due to the lack of diversity in their smaller town, recognizing that I am as American as they are prove to be difficult.
I call it the gummy bacon theory - the package reads gummy, your friends tell you it's gummy, reviews even rave 'yummy!'... but the concept can be difficult for you if you have only had gummy in the shapes of bears and worms. Understandably, when you put it in your mouth, you swear you taste bacon for a split second until reality takes over. The gummy bacon, no matter how good, will somehow always lack the authenticity of the real gummy.
It doesn't look like gummy, just as I don't look American, according to some people's image libraries. Due to this, I get explanations that start with 'well even if you WERE American...' or be chased down by FMIL telling me that having your picture taken is 'an American thing' when I react with my usual camera shyness. When corrected with the fact that I AM American, the reaction is 'I know that... well, you know what I mean'. And I do know what they mean - that I am Chinese-American, with all the rights and privileges of the regular American that I am not. Though this sounds rather negative, I do also recognize that within 'what they mean', there are no intentions of put down nor is there negative association. It's not that they have anything against gummy or bacon, it's just hard for them to instinctively accept one looking like the other.
I am on no mission to change their minds, especially with such slim chance for success. They will adjust more to me as time goes by, as I will with them, and as we already have been. I do not need to prove to anyone the American that I am, nor how proud I am to be one. On this fourth of July, I will once again celebrate how far this wonderful country of mine has come, and have faith that it will go much further in and past my lifetime in this long road ahead.Happy Indenpendence Day All!
P.S. Totally unrelated here but here are the earrings I made for this 4th of July. I love them. :)
(click on image to enlarge)