This verse came up in my scripture reading this morning. 3 Nephi 13:28-30 (and Matthew 6:28-30). “Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, . . . even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.” He has clothed us and fed us and taken care of us in a multitude of ways here in Italy, as we are learning to do it ourselves. And if sometimes he hasn’t clothed or helped us in exactly the way I would have chosen to do it myself, perhaps the lilies didn’t choose their raiment either.
Culture shock is an inevitable part of the expat experience. There will always come a day when you wake up and look at everyone around you, and think, “why do they do that?” The important thing then is to explore your feelings, talk about them, and really understand what is causing you to have them. It’s not always what it seems at first glance.
I was sitting in the park yesterday waiting (and waiting and waiting) for someone, and I indulged in a mental self-pity list of all the things I missed about San Diego: the consistently perfect weather, walking by the Temple every night (and visiting it too), our car, our beautiful apartment, my couch and bookshelves (and all the books on them), my Champion juicer, Trader Joe’s, the beach (and our romantic walks there), sounding articulate and intelligent when I talk (in my native language), knowing how much things will cost before I set out to find them and buy them (and actually finding them), making a list of errands I know can actually be accomplished in one day, and then accomplishing it, being a functioning and respected member of society (and a citizen!), feeling understood when I speak with people (and not just the language).
I could go on, but you get the picture. One of the main things is that I get tired of being so dependent on people, especially when the way they do things is nowhere near my American way of doing it. That was one of my main feelings about the whole illegality deal. I adore my husband, and spend most of every day with him and like it. But I don’t like that my passport looks like I ought to be thrown out of Italy if I weren’t with him.
And so we’re Americans. So what? Why doesn’t the law apply equally to everyone? I guess this is not the law. It’s people’s goodwill. Or lack of prejudice. If I were from Africa, for instance, rather than California, things might not go so well for me. So on the one hand, I feel grateful I happen to come from the “right” country. But at the same time, I feel almost embarrassed, or perhaps guilty, using my nationality to “cheat. ”