Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Grocery store BFF

Jeremy and I have a BFF at the grocery store by our house. His name is Khalid (actually, it isn't, but I'll call him that here) and he's from Syria. We met in the cheese aisle of the store and when I found out he was from Syria, I spoke to him in Syrian Arabic and that was it. BFFs for life. Anytime we go in that store now, Khalid says hi and stops to chat for a bit. He is convinced he saw us years ago in Syria at a certain place where his dad owned a shop. Khalid himself only recently came here from Syria. Who knows if he really saw us. Probably not, but it's fun to wonder.

The reason I say we're BFFs goes beyond just chatting in the cheese aisle every time we're there. Well, one reason we're BFFs actually IS related to cheese. One day, the grocery store had, for the first time, the particular kind of mozzarella that happens to be the only good kind for pizza (unless you prefer a fatty, shiny mass on top of your crust). I told him how happy I was to see it there and he said he would personally make sure that the store kept it in stock, for me. Now, I don't actually know how much power he has over inventory but it was nice to know I had a cheese advocate on my side.

Another time, the store was running a "free item every day" promotion in honor of the anniversary of its opening. I showed up on the afternoon of my usual grocery shopping day and Khalid found me and gave me the free item. They had run out very early in the morning, he told me, and he had put aside one of the items for me. BFFs, I tell you.

Then last night, I was there with Miriam to pick up some things to celebrate Magdalena's graduation from KG2 (yes, they do that here, too). Khalid was there, in the cheese aisle. We chatted for a minute and when I said we were getting some treats for Miriam's younger sister, he disappeared for a minute. He came back with some ice cream bars for us. For free.

Every time we go there and see him, it feels a little bit like Syria - a place where you stop and chat with the storekeeper, who keeps things in stock just for you, and gives treats to your kids anytime he sees them. It's a great feeling.

May 24th, outsourced

Happy with school