When I met my husband in Suva, Fiji, seven years ago, I did not realize that the day would mark the end of my open admiration of Shania Twain, obsession over corned beef or giving freely without questioning.
I’m Samoan, born and brought up on a fiercely proud tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific. I married an American, and I lost a part of who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, he is a wonderful man with a good heart and he is an amazing father, but he is American, and a certain type of American, the kind who hikes, makes pasta from scratch, reads The Sun magazine, listens to jazz and knows the difference between pinus radiata and pinus ponderosa.
I’m sure many women would die to have a man like this, who cooks amazing food, is fit, attentive, likes good music and cares about the environment, but this is not what I bargained for. You see, growing up on the island of Savaii, I only knew of Americans through tourists that came to our island, the magazines that somehow found it’s the way to Samoa, and from watching the odd movie here and there on the one television screen in our village.
Americans, as I saw through these mediums, were wrestlers, survivors of the Titanic, Backstreet Boys and Steven Seagull. The man I married was as un-American in my mind as they come, and let me count the ways.
1. He cooks and cleans The Americans we saw on TV merely ate in fancy restaurants or Casinos when they are not getting shot at by bad guys.
2. He does not eat at McDonald’s: Where I’m from, it’s a sign of prestige to eat at McDonald’s, where he is from, it is most certainly not a sign of prestige to eat at McDonald’s. I am okay with this and willingly support this particular trait.
3. He does not listen to Shania Twain: My husband listens to Jazz, or Latina music, or some blues. In Samoa we sing our own music, we listen to Bob Marley and do not attach socio-economic or political values to music, it’s just music, it does not reflect your personality.