Sunday, February 02, 2014

meeting the family: days six & seven.

Days six and seven were pretty uneventful. So much so, that I don't even really remember in detail what we did. I know that some more of Tony's extended family dropped by to visit and I felt right in my element, getting into a tickle fight with kids. But since not that much happened, I figure now is a good time to tell you about one of the things I've found the hardest about being here...



It's the yelling. I've mentioned it in a few of the daily recaps, specifically days three and five. Tony's family yells all. the. time. And I should be used to it, because all Chinese people do. At least, that's the way it seems after the year and a half I've been here.

They yell while they're shopping, while they're eating at restaurants, while they're playing a game. And they almost always sound angry, to the point where I usually ask Tony, "What are they fighting about?" and he always laughs at me and says they're not fighting. It's just the way they sound; it's a cultural thing and a language thing. I really thought I was used to it; I can almost tune it out now, no problem, and it usually doesn't bother me. 

But then I came to Henan to meet Tony's family and their yelling has really been bothering me. I'm constantly asking Tony, Is she/he angry? Are they mad? What are they saying? What's wrong? 

And nine times out of ten, nothing's been wrong. No one has been angry. 

No one has been angry. 

It's such a weird idea to me, that families can yell like that, and nothing is wrong and no one is mad. No one is going to storm out or throw things or start swearing. Because when I was growing up, when people started yelling like that, someone was definitely angry. And shit was going to go down. Shit did go down. 

So that's why when Tony's mom or dad or niece or aunt or uncle yells, I automatically get tense and feel upset, like I'm going to cry, like I have to yell, too, like I have to be ready. Ready to fight? To yell back? To leave?

I can't expect his family to change for me (and I don't), but I am very grateful that Tony doesn't raise his voice this way (although he has a couple of times here), and I'm just going to keep reminding myself: No one is angry.

P.S. Days one, two, three, four, and five.

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