Yesterday I arrived for the first time in my new home state as a resident (according to my attorney father anyway). So I felt some import and pomp about stepping out of the rental car and into my first residence in the Great State of Maryland. The first person I met at the door was Isaac, a Habesha-looking fellow, who was affable if slightly bored about greeting yet another pasty-faced white guy checking into the Residence Inn. Without thinking too much I said "endemena walk, denana?" You should have seen the look on his face.
We talked non-stop for the entire time he helped me unload the car, through check-in, and the time it took to check in and get me to my room. He's been in the US for three years, formerly a resident of Bole, my old 'hood in Addis. We talked about restaurants in Bole, the disagreeable weather in the US, and about the best Ethiopian food in Bethesda.
Somehow it's perfect that the first person to welcome me to my new home is from my old neighborhood in the home I've left behind. How do you say "welcome" in Amharic? I'm sure Isaac said it five times yesterday and I just couldn't understand him.