I feel like a am constantly reminded of how I American I am in everyday exchanges. Most of the time I feel my Americanness in relation to the notion of personal space. I constantly find myself edging away a little when my colleagues or friends are talking to me here, not because they are trying to be inappropriate, but because I just don’t feel comfortable standing that close to anyone. Taking someone’s hand to lead them to something or walk somewhere with them is very normal, but I always find I have some urgent itch that I must attend to with that hand whenever my colleagues grab mine, especially if it’s a male colleague. It just feels wrong to hold someone’s hand in the workplace, even though I know not in a remotely intimate way. Yesterday I was helping my male colleague with a computer problem. I received a text message so I checked it and after stuck my phone between my thighs to keep working at the computer. My colleague said, “we should put your phone on the desk so it doesn’t fall.” I though, no DON’T grab something that’s between my legs! I don’t think he was trying to be creepy or inappropriate at all, but he grabbed my phone and put it on the desk.
The terrible irony is that when I went back to training last week and was surrounded by Americans for the first time in a year, I was reminded of how Mozambican I have become in many of the ways that used to irritate me. I unintentionally cut in front of like 10 trainees at a bar once—hey, if you aren’t aggressive in this country you will never get served!
Yesterday I was waiting for my change in a store when I man walked in and placed a tiny puppy (could almost fit in the palm of your hand) on the counter. Normally I would coo over this cute little puppy, but after my recent bout of tick fever due to one of those cute little walking diseases, I stayed as far away from it as possible.
A few days ago a friend of mine posted a video from high school of a bunch of friends. Everyone in the video kept commenting on how funny it was, but since the nearest internet fast enough to watch this video is easily 6 hours away, I eventually had to beg someone to give me a verbal recap of the video so I could know what everyone was talking about!