A Cultural Balancing Act
Last night was so wonderful. Serkan and I had the pleasure of hosting nine of our friends for a BBQ at our building. We are lucky to have a great BBQ pit right on the Hudson River Boardwalk. With such beautiful weather this weekend in the NYC area it was the perfect night for a gathering. We prepared a good amount of food, to the right is a (very) small sampling of what we had. The Kofte (not shown here) is my all time favorite Turkish food!
Maintaining a cultural balance in our home is something we take pretty seriously. Coming from two very distinct backgrounds certainly keeps things interesting but can also make one feel isolated at times. We try to honor what we love most about our cultures, for Serkan having company, as we call it, is something that fills him with so much joy.
Preparing food and entertaining growing up in small town South Carolina was reserved exclusively for holidays and birthdays. When Serkan and I first moved in together more than two years ago I experienced a bit of a cultural adjustment period. Having guests over so frequently threw me for a loop and I have to say Serkan was more understandings than I had expected him to be. I can remember spending hours cleaning with my mother as a young girl because we were going to 'have company'. In Serkan's culture guest come and go as they please and are always welcomed with open arms ... and food, lots of food.
I'd like to take a moment to offer up some backstory here, when we met I was living alone in a one bedroom apartment and Serkan was living in a three bedroom with 3 roommates. Having moved to the United States alone eight years ago, Serkan quickly found a Turkish community he is still part of today. As for me, I am what they call an introverted extrovert. I am known to my very small circle of friends as a bit of a clown, but just like any good circus act the show must come to an end.
So don't get me wrong I was raised right, I have no difficulty managing a house full of people and I feel the same joy as Serkan does when we open and share our home with those around us. What challenged me in the beginning of our journey together was the spontaneity of 'having company'. As you can imagine this was a delicate topic to discuss when we had only known each other for 4 months living together for only one month.
Respect is what leads all of our conversations especially when our roots are involved. We love having a diverse household and have always enjoyed sharing stories of how incredibly different our upbringings were. Stories of hours spent dusting my childhood home (thanks Mom for the material) helped Serkan understand the frantic cleaning frenzy I would kick off the moment I heard he had invited someone over arriving in 10-15 min.
It didn't take long for us to find our middle ground but there were a few weeks there in the beginning that I am sure we both questioned just what the hell we were getting ourselves into.
Now I have grown to love this side of his culture and feel honored to be the woman of our house. Preparing food last night and enjoying with our guests was magical to say the least. We had visitors from Miami, more than a handful of New Jersey/New York locals and if you can believe it the husband of one of the Turkish woman is married to a man who went to college in South Carolina where I grew up. Needless to say it was a fabulous evening full of diverse conversation and fantastic fare.
The amenities at our building make it easy to have an evening like we did yesterday. The BBQ area is great and there is a beautiful fire pit as well! The New York City skyline is within view and with a few long strides you can be right at the edge of the Hudson River. We have lived at Riverbend for almost 3 years and we have no intentions of relocating anytime soon!