Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"American Woman. . . Stay Away From me!"

Remember that song? 1970s. The Who. Nick used to sing it to me, jokingly. But maybe his life would have been easier if he had married a nice girl from the village, a nice Greek-speaking Margariti nifi. 

What's it like to be an American nifi in Epirus, Greece?  I was born on Long Island and while I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, my Margariti groom was growing up in Epirus and experiencing a life that was so drastically different from anything I was doing across the Atlantic, it may as well have been another planet.  

And then in the 1980s our worlds came together.

Like every new bride, I just wanted them to like me.  I tried my best to communicate, but I'm not sure I've ever been understood.

I learned and accepted the traditions that seemed odd to me, even if it meant sitting over an open fire pit turning a dead goat on a spit, his liver, kidneys and intestines on the neighboring spit. I tried. What else could I do?

I've felt the eyes watching me, no matter how insignificant the task, and I hope they approved.

I baptized my children in my husband's faith, pacified my parents when they came to witness it, smiled for the camera and hoped it was enough.

But sometimes, a stray lens would capture a true moment.  It was not easy being the nifi who could not share stories or easily converse.
complied with the construction projects and tried to help, watching the little old ladies in their black garb smooth the cement, as I swallowed what I believed to be my inadequacies and moved to the background.  I tried.

And the children grew.  They were Greek and they were American and it was satisfying to see that they were comfortable in their skin, so I continued on: an American nifi in Margariti.

And eventually my Greek-American children became adults. Confident.  Strong. 

And I knew it had been worth it.  

Yes, I'm an American nifi in Margariti and I hope they like me.

But if it turns out that they just tolerate me, that's good enough.


  1. The picture selection for this post was great. By the way the song "American Woman" is from The Guess Who not The Who :-)