I am an enigma.
So I'm not the "average white American" I used to be. Before I didn't really know all that much about the real world.
I eat all manner of strange food. I almost only know how to cook Indo-Pakistani food. I can't buy a spice rack because I used enough spices to fill three of the ones sold at Target. When people ask about whether this or that Indian restaurant is good I say things like "Oh, yeah, it's allright - but it's really much more 'south indian' than I prefer." Who says stuff like that?!?
Some of family thinks I'm pretty weird. Like, 'why did she abandon her culture' weird, sometimes. Some people seem to think that my adopting a second culture meant I was revolting against my own. But its not! I love both. I used to say that I felt like being white was like being without any culture, but having experienced so much of Pakistani culture has taught me that's not true, and even instilled a new admiration for my own culture.
But I certainly don't fit it with the desis*. I'm a pariah at some dinner parties. Everyone's thinking "Who brought the white girl?" Not many people will talk to me. Aunties** usually won't at all. Strangely I feel like I fit in better at Pakistani functions when I'm in Pakistan than functions in America. At least then I'm a guest of honor - everyone wants to talk to me. (Even if they might be saying something different when I'm not around!)
It's been very hard to find any meaningful place for myself in the desi community. And to find a way to redefine my place in my old American community. It's a work in progress, I guess, and I'm certainly in a better place now than I ever have been. Maybe in the very beginning I felt okay, but that was because I only knew a limited number of my husband's friends. They were all university students who weren't forced to deal with some American on a daily basis, and over time we grew to know each other better. After we both graduated, we moved far away and had to make all new friends - plus we were married and on the market for other couples to be friends with. Unfortunately it took a long time, and we still only have a few.
I've gone through so many stages along the way also. At first I felt so excited - like I was a sponge just desperate to soak up Pakistani ways. Then at some point I felt saturated, like it was all took much and I would never find a place - never be accepted, no matter how hard I tried. Later, I felt like I knew everything and was put off by people who assumed I knew nothing. What the heck were they thinking? I'd been married to a Pakistani for years, I'd been to the country, I could speak some of the language - couldn't they SEE how Pakistani I was?
Nowadays I don't feel like that. I know I'm not Pakistani - I'm American, and I'm very happy with that. I think I'm more comfortable with my place, and I don't feel the need to "prove myself" anymore. I know that my desi side may set me apart from some people, and I know that being white will probably always play a role in my interactions with desis. I've finally realized that being white is its own culture, and marrying a Pakistani has helped me love my American life even more. Luckily, I also know there's always more I can learn, and I feel comfortable with myself enough not to be offended when someone implies I don't know some very basic thing.
Well, usually! Let's hope that improves even more with time, too.
*Desi - a term for an Indian/Pakistani person, or as an adjective to describe something as being Indian/Pakistani. It comes from a word meaning "country."
**Auntie is what you call a woman who is not a member of your family who is older than you.