Sometimes a Question is Not a Question
Every new person that Josie, my English neighbour, introduced me to asked me that question. Some asked with kindness, some with curiosity, and some with sternness.
At the end of the week, Josie invited my two children (4 and 5 years old) and I to come over for tea. “You all right?” she asked after opening the door to us.
“Josie,” I blurted out, “Why does everyone keep asking me if I am okay? Is it that obvious I’m miserable?”
The surprised look on Josie’s face showed me that I either said something wrong or that she misunderstood me.
“Oh, no, lovey! ‘You all right?’ is just something we say when greeting people. It’s not an invitation to talk about your feelings.
“Oh.” I mumbled as my face turned red. Not only had I let on how miserable I was feeling, I also misunderstood everyone’s intent.
Clearly this question provoked a very different metal image for me than it did for the people in the British village of Levington. The meaning I attached to it was strongly influenced by my experiences in America. I am so glad that I talked to Josie so that my misunderstanding was cleared up.
We moved to England December 1988. The nearly five years we lived there are highlights in my life. But the first months were hard ones. We moved there in the winter (SAD kicked in), right before Christmas, away from my family, into a village (where it takes time, sometimes years, to get to know your neighbours). And since I didn’t work outside the home, I didn’t have a built-in social network. Thankfully Josie and her family (Robbie is her son) soon became family to us.Related Posts . . .
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