What Now? Selam Update

30 04 2011

You know I never thought much past, “Selam.”

I didn’t think about the fact that I have a REALLY hard time understanding people who have accents.  I didn’t think about the fact that I don’t like entertaining at our rental house for 1,000 reasons.  I didn’t think about the fact that taking our kids OUT requires at least 76% of SAG’s attention and at least 76% of my attention at all times.  That leaves less than half of an adult to pay attention to a new friend.

Yep, didn’t think it through until the euphoria wore off from Sahmel asking to exchange phone numbers a few weeks back.

I came home and read up on Eritrea.  I came home and blogged about my success.  I came home and had a mild anxiety attack, “Now what?”

The weekend after I met Sahmel I thought about calling him and asking him to dinner – but I came up with a million excuses why it wasn’t the right time.  Then my phone rang and when I looked at the screen I saw his name.  I didn’t answer.  He left a message.  It got deleted.  I swear it wasn’t intentional.  And I had his number anyway so it did not matter, I could have called him.  But I waited.

Then it was Easter weekend.  I figured he probably had big Easter plans.  I figured lots of things that made it impossible for me to call him.  Then I figured out just how silly I was being.

So, this afternoon I called him and he was available for dinner.  Now What?

Where could we go for dinner that my two, 2-yr-olds would be welcomed?  That a recently arrived Eritrean would feel comfortable?  That wouldn’t ask us if we wanted to “super-size it”?

We decided to take him to a family friendly, Mexican chain.  Sahmel had no idea what I was talking about when I said we were going out for Mexican food.  But he seemed excited about the potential.  Anyone who will travel half-way around the world to start a new life must either be adventurous or learn to live with uncomfortable situations.  Sahmel seems genuinely adventurous.

I didn’t think about the fact that he wouldn’t be able to read the menu – duh.  I ordered a version of chicken fajitas for him.  He seemed happy.  I thought there were some parallels between the fill your own tortillas and eating with injera.

I think Sahmel’s English skills are impressive.  And our conversation flowed fairly smoothly.  I am looking forward to spending more time with him.  He told us about his family in Eritrea.  He told us that his mother has been asking him, “What is it like to live with all those white people?”

Sahmel is 18 years and six months (his wording.)  When he asked SAG how old he was and SAG told him, 43, Sahmel seemed genuinely shocked.  I remember my first job out of college, I was turning 22, one of my new work friends was 29 – I could not believe I had a friend that was THAT old.  We must seem ancient to Sahmel.

Well, that is one more adventure for Sahmel – being friends with white people, middle-aged, white people at that.

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5 responses

30 04 2011
leigh

Oh my God, he’s just a kid. He’s alone? I’m so glad you called him.

30 04 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

He is a kid, a kid that spent time in a refugee camp. And like me, he is willing to share, share, share. I think we are going to be friends. Of course SAG is wondering if we are older than his parents. He has nine siblings – but, of course, there is no doubt we could be older than his parents.

30 04 2011
Erin

Wow! Yay! I’m glad y’all found each other.

1 05 2011
mindy

One very broad statement I can honestly say about Habesha people is how friendly they are. I am so glad that he called you and you had dinner together.

We had a friend tell an Ethiopian woman (randomly) about our family and our daughter from ET. The woman called us and e-mailed us several times (I’d have been too shy. She was so persistent) Long story short: she and her family are now very dear and close friends. When people ask how we met I always stress the fact that my ET friend gets all the credit. 🙂

4 05 2011
Christine

The other day I got out of my car in my little town and I saw this beautiful woman walking toward me and I thought, “She looks Ethiopian.” And, of course, I wanted to say “Selam” or something, but I didn’t. And then she told me she loved my shoes. If I see her in town again, I am going to say something, I swear.

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