It has been a long day, without you my friend. And, now that I am seeing you again, it is wise that I tell you about all the sudden events that have recently happened to me: marrying a new husband via arranged marriage, moving to America to settle down there, taking a tour of one of the local supermarkets, and, in general, very, extremely unsure of what to do next, or how to feel about my husband and this place.
Firstly, I should describe the supermarket to you. It was just when we had arrived in my doctor husband’s bland, boring flat, that he decided to take me out to the supermarket, not only for groceries, but also to show me how to “adapt to America.” The environment was hot, and the street smelt of raw, odorous fish, which would have given me an unpleasant impression of the shopping area. Along with all of this, there were restaurants that promised the ‘absolute best of Caribbean and American food’, a car wash that displayed prices of $3.50 on a chalkboard placed among Coke cans and pieces of paper, and a sidewalk that looked as if it were once a pizza-road.
First of all, we went into the bus, and rode it to the shop. Inside it, he told me how to pour the coins in, how to press the tape on the wall to signal my stop, and, in general, told me to behave exactly like an American would. When we reached, and then went inside the shop, he bought a beef-pack, even though I preferred buying those from the butcher; but, suddenly, my eye caught a familiar-looking, blue biscuit-pack, known as ‘Burton’s Rich Tea’. When I asked him if I could buy it, he told me to buy the white store-brand instead, but since I had lost my interest in the biscuit-pack, I just picked it up to appease him, put it in the cart, and then stared longingly at the blue biscuit-pack.
You see, as I told you before, my marriage was arranged. And the arrangers of marriage had it in mind that I would get married off to a doctor, one who had been living in the USA for quite a long time. My aunt and uncle approved of this, even though I wished far greater to go to university. When my husband, who had lived in the USA for about eleven years, talked to me on the plane, he revealed that he was, in fact, an intern doing a residency program, which the arrangers of marriage never told me about, as they instead told me about how much money he must have definitely made. What is more, is that I just found out about this! These things only built up my stress.
He proceeded to tell me about how interns are paid twenty-eight thousand dollars a year, and only work eighty hours a week; meaning, they are only paid three dollars an hour! Even the average high-school student, working part-time, could easily have made far more money, which did do enough to shake me up a bit. My husband confirmed that, after he was done with the residency program, he would become a Consultant, or, as the Americans call it, an ‘Attending’ or ‘Attending Physician’. In the process of doing all of that, he also told me that we would move to a better neighborhood, which adhered to the ‘American way’, and did not have any people who “will never move forward.”
Speaking of which, the supermarket tour was very intriguing and interesting, as it ran so opposite to the supermarkets back in my country. Where this one calls them ‘cookies’, we have always called them biscuits. While this place sells their beef in packs, we would always go to the butcher to retrieve red meat. Over here, people care so much about whether or not they could take their shopping carts up to their cars, whereas us Nigerian folk could not care less about any of that – the point is that there are still carts, carts that can be used. And, finally, the American one was very refined, variable, and gave you the opportunity to do many different things, which was lacking in ours.
There were also some other aspects of this American life that were different. For example, you cannot yell at the conductor for your stop, instead having to press the tape on the wall of the bus to do so. To add onto that, there was also a distinct lack of bargainers in the American supermarket. Yes, the same, slimy sweet-talkers, who would always charm people into trying to buy their lackluster products, just to add one kobo to their price. They would wrap their stuff in plastic bags; if not that, then, most definitely, a couple of worn-out newspapers, so worn-out that even the raw fish I smelled just a while ago definitely smelled better, after which the bargainers would laugh about this.
Like I said at the start, I have no idea where my life is going after this. My ‘doctor husband’ is not technically a doctor yet, his house is bleak and badly furnished, the supermarket was a roller-coaster-kind of an experience, and I definitely do not know if I want to adhere too heavily to the ‘American way’. Thankfully, I have a plan for the future; simply wing it, experience life as it happens, and have peace. Goodbye, Jennifer!