To us, the fact that we’re in a relationship with someone of the “other” culture isn’t interesting.
“To your own,” each person wished me as they left, and I wondered if they would still be bestowing that blessing if they knew that my wedding would likely never be like their own or like my cousin’s.
Yet there I was, filling in the image of the smiling, single, Greek-American young woman who most certainly would have a church wedding all her own some day with the big white dress and with her relatives and in-laws gathered harmoniously in the same space. At that moment it merely made me sad, knowing that having a life that is that easy was not what I was choosing with my current relationship.
The boubounieres, the large party afterwards with food and music would be there, but I would have to forget the church wedding, the slightly annoyed priest, and a multitude of blessings from everyone related to me by blood. There is so much which we think is “Greek” which is actually just a constructed identity, or worse, a holdover from the past.
Our meals are a mix of everything from Greek and Turkish to British, Italian, Indian, and American.
Our conflicts arise from our personalities and wants, just like a mono-cultural couple. The difference is in how we live according to a blended cultural calender. The cavernous church was brightly lit, the priest grew impatient when my cousin the bride came late, but the throngs of relatives and friends were unmistakable.
Together, we’ve accepted hard candies from hosts on Kurban Bayram, have cooked leg of lamb and avgolemono soup according to my mother’s recipe for Easter, and this year look forward to attending Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve in Agia Triada in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. There, before her parents, her groom’s parents, and religion, she and her now-husband were more than accepted as a single unit, they were blessed.
Blessings were wished upon their heads, which were then transferred to my own as I stood at the back of the church in my wedding finest handing out boubounieres as a “single” woman.
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For the past two years of the four I’ve lived abroad, I’ve been dating a Turkish man.
We met in England as postgraduates, an in between space that was neither Greece, nor Turkey, nor the United States, just after I had spent some time in Istanbul.