Monday, March 7, 2011

BIG and Small

Even though we have been in the States for almost three and a half years now, it is still quite challenging for me to get used to the vastness of this country.

I look at the elephant size trunk of the SUV's in the library parking lot and try to ascertain whether they are really big inside as they appear outside. Probably.

In fact, I am still in culture shock.
The whole concept of driving up in a big SUV to drop off a DVD at the library "mailbox" seems foreign.

Or how about asking someone what is an SUV's. What's an SUV? Doesn't Israel have them? Really, Dorit. I imagine it sounds like a airplane carrier? I want to shrink to half my size when I find out it's a type of car. For heaven's sake, how could I be so innately stupid? Really, Dorit.


On one of the Pittsburgh buses on the way to the children's museum, there was an Indian man who told the bus driver where he wanted to go. The gentleman had a thick accent and kept repeating himself over and over again. I must admit - even I was challenged.

-Speak English, the bus driver says. Where do you want to go?

More talk.

-I don't understand what you are saying. Speak English.

It turned out that this gentleman got off a few stops before his intended one because he didn't know how to say the "right words." I know this because after he got off the bus, I saw his face contour into a series of grimaces. It was painful to see because I could empathize with the feeling of being an immigrant.

When you're an immigrant to the States, no matter what language you speak and what country you are from, Everything is BIG, BIGGER than you. You try not to think you are still an immigrant. Try to acculturate. You speak English, but, obviously, it is not enough.

In the States, you feel big when you see things like SUV's from a distance, not when they are up close.

This is the opposite of living on a kibbutz where you have everything within a 360 degree radius - doctor, supermarket, mail, baby and children's houses, neighbors, dining room, old aged home, car mechanics, bike shop, orchards, gas station, horses, Thai restaurant, secretaries offices, dentist, massage and hair cutting parlor and plenty of other services.

The only time I needed to actually "leave" the kibbutz was to my teaching job at the nearby High School school; I biked every day alongside the Jordan River. If I wanted to do some mega shopping, I'd go to the neighboring city of Kiriyat Shmona.

Against the Hudson River, the Jordan appears to be a small stream. It was the stream of a river that would carry me when I went kayaking or even dipping. It was the only long, and I guess you can say, "big" thing around.

This superbly convenient lifestyle facilitated living so much so that I found any other kind of living incomparable. Perhaps that is why I am still overwhelmed when I see a green SUV.

Perhaps, I wish it could take me to the Jordan River. Now that, would be BIG.

1 comment:

  1. This eye opening and should make every reader who is native to the United States have some empathy for those who have chosen to come here. Thanks for sharing your insight.