I’m very good at being invisible. It’s an art I’ve practiced since I was a young girl, and it’s only recently I’ve realized why I’m so good.
No one pays attention to me because I’m not one of ‘them.’
Let me give you an example:
Traveling through Japan, most people knew I wasn’t Japanese. There was something about me that wasn’t quite right. When I was in Spain, most of the Spaniards could tell I wasn’t one of them. I was too Asian looking. I could walk down the street or in the metro without them even noticing me, and they would say whatever they wanted, assuming I couldn’t understand them. Americans did the same. They assumed I wasn’t American, and couldn’t possibly speak English.
(By the way, if you’re in a different country and in a crowded area, there’s going to be at least one person who speaks English. Even if they don’t speak it, there’s enough video games, music and movies that they can understand a large percent.)
I used to have a lot of fun with it. Most of the missionaries for our church were from the United States, and we would often pull pranks on new ones because they wouldn’t speak to me, thinking their Spanish wasn’t good enough or because they were afraid I would go off in Spanish, leaving them stumbling to keep up.
One time, before a regional conference, I was asked to play the piano minutes before the meeting started. I panicked, running out of the main room, searching for a piano to practice on. I passed two missionaries, one I’d never seen before, and one I’d spent several months with previously. As I passed, he asked,
“How’s it going Krista?”
I responded with a rushed vent about how I had just been asked to play the piano, and I didn’t even know if I knew the songs, and the meeting was going to start in ten minutes. When I finished, I kept running, and as I left, I heard the other missionary say,
“Wow, she speaks perfect English.”
To which his companion responded: “Duh. She’s American.”
Technically, it’s true. I’m a Japanese American. My mom was born in Japan and adopted by a Dutch American Family. My maiden name is French. My married name is Hispanic. My husband is Bolivian. I speak both English and Spanish fluently. At home, we speak Spanglish.
It’s true, I’m not one of any specific race or culture. I may not quite fit in, but I think it gives me a greater chance to see and experience cultures in ways that might not be possible if I was just one thing.
I like being different.