I married my husband in October of 2002. It’s been one whole year. We have had an interesting marriage, not the least because we come from different cultures and languages that are as polar as they can be. I am Chinese-American who migrated to the US at a young age & moved around a lot with my family (I think we lived in 6 different neighborhoods in 8 years), and my husband is every inch a WASP who lived in the same middle-class Wonder-Bread California neighborhood & gone to the same school with the same kids all his life. We constantly amaze each other with the consequences of our early life. I call his early life sheltered – he’s never known someone who struggled with English as a second language, or eaten a mango, or eaten off a street vendor, or even been drunk, until he went abroad to study, a bold stroke for him.
When I came into his life, I brought not just myself, but the entire Chinese culture with me. Even though I grew up in the US, my parents made sure we stay 100% Chinese. Ever since our marriage I have foisted upon him Chinese philosophies, Chinese art and home decor, and Chinese food items he would never have dreamt of eating before he met me – eggplants, for example.
When we were married, I insisted that we spend part of our honeymoon in Taiwan, where I was born. He had never met any of my 30 some odd Taiwanese relatives, but their curiosity regarding this new foreign addition to the family was too much – I was asked to bring him to the island to show them. A travelling exhibit, as it were.
It was quite an experience for him. The crowds, the traffic, the total disregard for what Americans like to call “personal space”, the 24-hr flow of food and drink from every corner of the island, a huge variety of freshly prepared foods (‘frozen dinner’ is an unknown concept in the Republic of China), the air scented with food cooking on the street corners, the rare scenery of the tropics, the dramatic geography of a vulcanic island. This photo collage is from our trip; you can see the night market stalls where vendor hawk freshly prepared foods under red paper lanterns, the Buddhist temples, and the scenery which he loved beyond all else in his experience. What I wished I could capture but could not, was the attention he got and eyelash-batting from the young women in the gift shops, the subway, the restaurants, the airport – everywhere we went, he experienced the hitherto foreign feeling of being an exotic conquest in a foreign land.
Connie Chai Scholl (San Diego, CA, USA)