the reserved

by rantywoman

Myself, I am having to adapt to my new environment.

But that politeness is not a temporary shield, not a shell, not a surface: that reserve is bottomless. As a foreigner you will never reach the end of it. I understood the language, but communication was impossible. How could I justify a desire to stand out, to make something of myself in the context of a complicated culture that values fitting in over individualism? How could I even begin to describe this to someone who desperately and rightfully wanted me to follow their clear social cues and talk about the weather? “That’s quite a change,” people would reply, when I said where I was from, and the right response– the only response– was “It is, a bit.”

— Ruth Curry, “Out of Season,” Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, p. 45