Dating a man from another country
"Should we go get some dinner?" My heart was pounding when he said this. I was an eighteen-year-old freshman at University, and this charming, handsome German man was asking me on a date...or so I thought.
He had told me he wanted to go to a real burger joint, better yet a drive-in, "I can show you" I chirped and so it was planned.
He was twenty-five and had been in the States for three months at the time; his English was still sketchy and I don't think he realized he was asking me out.
The diner was bustling with people, we talked, flirted (at least I thought so) and had an amazing deep conversation about life. I was mesmerized.
A waitress chewing gum plopped the bill in front of him, "Here's your bill, tell me when you're ready." He picked it up slowly, looked and it and then at me. I just smiled without moving, thinking nothing of the bill.
He then proceeded to pay with a scowl. I couldn't figure out why as thoughts were racing through my head, "Had I offended him, what was wrong? Was it the waitress?"
It didn't take long for me to find out, "Where I am from the bill is split. You obviously think I should pay for you, but I don't think so. I cannot afford this, and I don't want you to think you owe me something. "
I felt awkward as another long conversation unfolded; one of many. Thirty years later we are still having these discussions from time to time. Yes, he is now my husband, and I guess it was a date after all. Sometimes he says with his adorable accent, "You know I am not from Mars." He isn't, but it can feel like a different planet, especially as we have moved and had to navigate other cultures together. It's no wonder I love the song fly me to the moon; I feel like he has.
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife