Sunday, March 18, 2012

To be a mutt

I am proud of my heritage, on both sides. I feel that no matter where you come from, that place is undoubtedly rich in culture, songs, and traditions that deserve to be kept alive by the young generation. The problem with that, in my case, is that I have no one to teach me about being a Greek.

My father made the decision when I was born that he wouldn't teach me how to speak the language. Wether for personal reason or just because he was lazy in that perspective, I will never know. In any case, the decision seemed a good one when my parents split when I was 2, my father not wanting to spend the little time we did have together giving me greek lessons. We occasionally went to Church, where I was introduced to the beauty of the Orthodox Mass. We would occasionally go to my grandparents where the very air seemed impregnated with old greek customs. All I heard floating around me was greek words, greek music, greek smells. All I could see around me was greek artifacts and it smelled greek, from the food and the incense that my grandmother burned every night to cleanse the room and waft away in front of relics. It was a place that I absolutely loved and absolutely felt like a stranger in.

By choosing to not teach me and my sisters the greek language, I feel like my father took a decisive step in the direction of alienating us from our culture, and indeed, we have always been like outside observers into something we wanted so much to be part of and yet could never really fit in. The very fact that we were not full greeks was already a deterrant to everyone around us, at weddings all the other children who delighted in showing me their cultural superiority by speaking greek to me and laughing when I obviously couldnt respond in kind. Children are so nice to each other.

I cant deny that I feel drawn to what is greek culture. The sound of the singing in the Church, that distinctive Greek pitch, is unique and touches me in a way no other church does. The rhythms of greek music seems to envelop my brain and makes me want to dance more than any other sound, and greek dance itself seems so easy to pick up and learn. I want to be greek so badly, and I hate the fact that I will always feel not a full greek. Just like I will always feel not a full quebecoise. The same problem arises in the french culture, the only difference is that I was immersed in it much more considering my mother raised me.

But still, I am the greek girl to my french family, just like I am the french girl to my greek family.

Its funny how I feel like I overdramatize this, because almost everyone I know is a cultural mutt, so to speak. This is what Canada is, and indeed much of the North America. We are the melting pot of cultures where everyone and everything gets mixed in, and to me, that is sad, because it is also sometimes synonym of culture lost and dissasociation. The very fact I cant speak greek shames me. I taught myself how to count to 12 when I was 9, and the same with certain words and expressions, just to say I knew SOMETHING.

I will one day visit the land where my father was born, the house my grandfather built, and maybe I will get over this whining complex of feeling left out of both cultures and finally just realize that I am part of both no matter my blood quantum, but in the meantime, Ill just listen to some music and pretend I know what they're saying.

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