I've been with my boyfriend officially since August, though I met him over the phone in June and then in person in July. Anyway, before I knew him, I can vividly recall feeling isolated. In my home, no one is or speaks Greek (my blood goes way back). I'd walk down the street and hear a ton of languages, but never any Greek. The only place I could even find Greeks that I'd go to was the diner, which is probably why I know almost all the diner owners in the area (or they know of me, since Mom would often talk about me whenever she'd go to one.) In college, it was the same, though I did try a few times to talk to some of the Greek students. I even joined the Greek club. lol I think I was the only member, cause nothing ever happened after I showed up the first day and no one else did. You'd think that since my religion is Hellenic Polytheism, my co-religionists would have an interest in Greece, but nope. Only the ancient stuff. Anyway, as my knowledge grew, I wanted to share it with my family and I would (and still do) speak to myself alot, just to practise, explaining what I was doing, where something was, what I wanted etc. My mother said I should go on speaking it, since this is how I learn. Many times, she'd tell people about me, even though she wasn't interested. She'd try my food, but wasn't that much into it, but I do give her an A for effort. We're as close as a mother an daughter can possibly be, so at least, I have her on my side. Her partner just does her own thing, and though she loves me dearly, she couldn't care less about anything Greek, and my Grandmmother isn't into anything Greek at all. She'd call galaktoboureko "cake" for example and when I'd acknowledge what she meant, she'd make fun of it and go "oko beko bako *etc*... for me, it's cake". Stuff like that. (She does speak seven different languages though. lol and we do aget along most of the time.) Or I'd make something and if I mentioned it was Greek, she'd say she didn't like it, without even trying it. Fortunately, my family has come to accept me as a Greek and not an American, which is a huge compliment, and we even joke about it. I will admit that I'm very overwhelming at times, though I've learned not to discuss certain things with them and I have toned down alot. But it used to be so frustrating sometimes! I'd find something new (music-related) or read something on the news and tell Mom and she'd be like "yeah ok, I'm not interested" and I had no one to share any of this with.
Then, I met Spiros, and he changed my life. Finally, I had a Greek man with whom I could constantly speak (we're on the phone every night) and see every weekend. I'd had Greek friends before him, but they were either online, too Americanised to be into Hellenic things (or they just didn't care) or too busy to talk/we only talked maybe once a year. Anyway, my boyfriend took me to Astoria, a place I'd always dreamed of going to, and to this one Duncan Doughnuts which is usually full of Greeks. I felt like I was in paradise, just listening to those people around me, all talking Greek and even though I couldn't understand most of it (partly because I'm still a student of the language and partly cause there were so many people) I still felt at home. Whenever I'm around Hellenes, I feel this way, like I belong. Spiros is 62 and very knowledgible in the culture etc, so he's always teaching me new things. But then, when I do go home, I feel frustrated. I start speaking Greek and then have to tell myself "no, you're in New Jersey, land of the nonGreeks, now. They don't understand you". I'll talk to my nonGreek friends on the phone and slip and forget. One time, I even literally had to slowly backtranslate into English because I forgot how to say the words! lol Whenever I answer the phone, regardless of who's calling, I always say "embros". It's actually how my friends know it's me. *smile* I donno, it's better now, but sometimes, I just wanna be around "my own kind". I wanna be able to just start talking and have people understand me, have a decent Greek meal on the table, or have a conversation about the news or music or sports or whatever's on my mind. Ah well, thank the gods for Spiros and my little weekend get-aways. As a sidenote, I've never felt this way about joining or seeking out my blind or religious peers, only the Greek ones.
I honestly don't know why I wrote this now, but I do feel alot better. Do any of you feel the same way or have you in your lives? Btw, I'm really glad that a community like this exists for us.