So RealYvonne suggested I write about my interracial/intercultural marriage. This will be hard for me, because I have too much to say. I have a tendency to rhapsodize about my husband, and if I’m not careful, this will just come out as an advertisement for a man you can’t have.
Michael and I are very different. We are opposites, in balance, creating a whole. Well, nearly opposites, and usually in balance.
We have very different backgrounds. I grew up very sheltered, attending a sweet little Waldorf School, and loving it to pieces for the art and community it provided. He grew up in a small village in Kenya, where his school was sometimes held outside for lack of a classroom. He has a difficult time understanding what the big deal about bullying is in America, because he is used to a whole different level. I actively loved every other student in my high school class. He can slaughter a chicken. I get upset about roadkill.
The biggest difference is in our upbringings. He was brought up to work hard to get what he wants. I was brought up to believe that everyone is special, especially me, and that I was naturally talented in some areas, and so wouldn’t need to work too hard at those, and disadvantaged in other areas, and so didn’t need to work too hard (because it’s everyone else’s job to accommodate the people with learning disabilities). As a result, he is working hard and making something of himself, while I am still coming to terms with the fact that I have to work at all. My mother was most worried about keeping me happy and safe. I never learned to struggle. My husband was raised to be independent and strong.
I personally think his life would be a great movie.
There was a time when it was doubtful that he could afford to go to college at all. My husband certainly could never have afforded to come to the US if he hadn’t chosen to volunteer his time at a clinic near his home. But when he volunteered, he had no idea how it would turn out. He just wanted to help. He translated for American doctors and nurses, and helped out every way he could. He was very proactive in looking for ways to help. And the Americans noticed how bright and hard-working he was. Two doctors and a nurse mentioned that they would like to help him come to the United States for college. He got these women in touch with each other, and they made it happen! The nurse built a room for him in her garage, and the doctor payed for his community college tuition and spending money (much of which he actually sent home to his family).
We met through a friend, and he was pretty quick to decide he was interested in me. I spent a fair amount of time being an idiot and not being interested in him. Partly, I put off dating him because he had made it clear that he wanted his first girlfriend to become his wife, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to marry yet. Partly, I was just interested in someone else. Long, dumb story short, he wore me down and I agreed to date him. A few months in, we decided to get married. By then, I realized what a catch I had, and like I said, I knew when I started dating him that marriage was the likely outcome. All together, the time it took from introduction to wedding was just barely over a year.
Soon he was transferring from community college to Cal Berkeley, one of the top schools in the world. I was employed at my father’s start up, doing graphic design and video work. Since we were (and still are) living at my parents’ house, my earnings were spent on my binge eating, books and school supplies for him, and a lot was sent to his family in Kenya, especially to help with his little brother’s college tuition. We didn’t manage to save any money. He’s finished all his classes now, and is going to graduate in May. My parents are going to pay for his mother’s airplane ticket, provided she is able to get a visa to visit. Michael’s older brother is trying to come up with money for a ticket of his own.
Right now Michael is devoting all his attention to studying for the MCAT. I’m pretty confident he’ll hit it out of the park, given how hard he’s working. After that, med school. He plans to become a neurosurgeon.
Meanwhile, I’ve lost my job (through no fault of my own), and as mentioned above, we have no savings. Lucky thing we also have no bills and just eat the groceries my parents buy. It’s embarrassing to admit that we are basically leeches for the time being. I’m petrified by the prospect of looking for work. I feel unqualified for anything. I’m taking a couple classes, one on motion graphics, the other is intro to web design. I’m hoping to be more employable by the end of those classes.
I can shoot video, edit video and create motion graphic animations. I can do graphic design and illustration. I’m also a pretty good singer. What I struggle with is fear. I am afraid to put myself out there and get rejected. I’m scared of not getting a job, but I’m also scared of getting a job and not being good enough.
I’ll have to learn to be brave, for my future family. I’ll need to be earning money when he’s in medical school; man cannot live on loans alone. It’s terrifying, but I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I married the right man. He pushed me every day, to be more than I think I can be. I hate being pushed, it’s not something I’m used to, but it’s definitely what I need.