I like writing about new experiences while everything is still new, before they become “normal”. I wrote one about six months ago, and it was nice to look back on my perspective about different things then, so I’m doing it again now. It’s been a few weeks since we moved to another country and into our own apartment. We’re pretty much settled already, and I’ve had some time to reflect on how this experience has been so far and here are my current thoughts:
- Wife life. When we were in Nepal, we lived with the extended family – with grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and cousins. In that setting, I lived out my identity as a buhari (daughter in law) and a bhauju (sister in law) but not so much as a srimati (wife). The most common question a newly wed gets asked is “how’s married life?” and I never knew how to answer that question beyond the standard “it’s great!” Scott also had his additional roles as a son and brother that came with their share of responsibilities. But it’s just the two of us now. So our current roles are the ones defined by our relationship with each other.
- Home. The entire time that we were in Nepal, we lived out of our suitcases. We didn’t really unpack our stuff because one, there was no extra closet space. And two, that was a temporary arrangement. Even if we didn’t know then where we were going, and when, we just knew in our heart of hearts that we were bound for someplace else. This is my third country in less than a year, and leaving my childhood home in the Philippines, and moving to my husband’s home in Nepal, and then ending up here now has given me a lot of things to think about what “home” means. Our new apartment is our current home. It’s tiny but it’s ours, and it’s been such a joy to go through the experience of picking out plates and cups and dining table, and all sorts of small and big things. It’s also quite a challenge, especially when we differ in our choices 😛 But wherever life takes us in the next years, we’ll always look back on this one as our first home.
- Peace and quiet. In Nepal, we were constantly surrounded by people. This was one of the things that I really had a hard time coming to terms with. I remember sitting outside on the stairs going to the rooftop, on a cold winter night, because that was the only place in that multi-storey house that was free of people and noise. I value my personal time and space like I value the air I breathe, and I was sobbing to Scott because I truly felt that I was physically suffocating in that house. I do not hate them, I just need a quiet space so that I can hear my thoughts, and I couldn’t do that when there’s always someone around and there’s always something going on. When I sit on the bed to read a book or write on my journal, someone would come up and ask what I was doing, what I’m writing about, etc etc. I hardly wrote on my journal in the past months but I’m slowly getting back to it now.
- Expectations. I wanted to cut my hair short for our wedding but Scott asked me not to. I was taken aback because first, this was not the type of thing that he would oppose. Second, because he couldn’t properly explain his reason. He just said “just trust me on this one, you’ll understand when we arrive in Nepal.” True enough, there was wisdom in those words. I do not know if I would’ve been able to look his grandmother straight in the eye if I had short hair. So it stayed long and untrimmed in Nepal but I chopped everything off within days of our arrival here.
- Freedom. Nepali people are creatures of habit. And traditions. And rituals. And superstition. So there were things that we had to abide by even if we didn’t necessarily believe in them, simply because we didn’t want to offend traditional and conservative sensibilities. For example, in Nepali culture, wives are not supposed to eat off of their husband’s plates. This has always been tricky for us because I’m not used to the large food serving portions in Nepal. And the dining style is that the food is piled onto your plate by someone else. At home I have since learned to be firm and say “no” and “enough”, but it’s particularly difficult when we’re invited guests and I have no control over the portions. It was always a dilemma because it’s not nice to waste food and have leftovers, but it’s also improper to share my food with Scott. Now we don’t have to deal with that anymore.