They say “When in Rome be like the Romans” but do they really mean BECOME the Romans?  This is what I mean.  Since, I have been in China I have found myself becoming more and more Chinese.  With very little contact with my fellow Americans, and the absence of American Television and American Customs I fear I am becoming more and more Chinese.

Now in my heart I know I am a strong, Black woman who has overcome the largest obstacles.  I know that I come from a long line of strong people.  My confidence is high and my self-esteem is even higher.  However, I feel little by little, inch by inch, bit by bit… parts of my Americanism chipping away.

I am becoming immune to things that in America would appall me.  I am becoming desensitized and the feeling of no control and no power… is seeping into my body.   Is this what it is like to be Chinese in China these days.   Do they get used to people not going out of their way for a stranger or even looking in their direction when they need help?  Always wondering, what is in it for me.

My life has become a cycle of work, home, eat, sleep … without the joys of living life.  Without the laughter that has always been my ticket to sanity.   Sarcasm is wasted on the people here, they do not understand it.  My humor falls on ignorant ears, my murmurs of inequality are just met with blank faces and nods.

Where is the life, where is the excitement… it seems to have been stifled by an invisible hand or force of some kind.  Joy to the locals is eating a large meal,  just looking at the river, or just sleeping late.   The people here are moving but not really going anywhere.

Am I to become like them.  Is my greatest excitement a fresh apple at a fruit stand, or the smell of freshly brewed tea?  These questions I ask myself, as I sit here … How can I keep my Americanism, my individuality, my sense of self.. in a country filled with sameness and complacency.

I find myself… thinking a lot these days.  About past, present and the future…what will I feel when I go back to home to America.  How will I see the world there?  Will I be able to gain my sense of self back.. will I be able to return to the world of free thought  and free expression.

These things scare me.   I know I am changing .. I know I am experiencing things that different that I have ever experienced… but will I lose .. myself.

My expat friends tell me that sometimes they feel like they are in between worlds because they have lived in so many places.  They feel that they do not fit anywhere anymore.  I think this is a feeling that most expats eventually feel.  What can you do?  How can you fix it?  Can you fix it.

The funny thing is .. that my Chinese husband is becoming more and more American… he is gaining self-confidence, becoming stronger, setting goals and making them real.  He is pursuing his dreams and becoming the man that he wants to be.   Are we switching positions?   Have I influenced him enough to be American and he influenced me enough to become Chinese?

We don’t know… not sure if we will ever know.. but the one thing I do know… is that I will fight it… tooth and nail… I know who I am… and that is who I want to always be… and I am willing to adjust to some things… to keep the peace and live in harmony.. but I will always .. always be me in my heart… a Strong, Black American, Woman.

until next time….