We all have those people in our life that nourish us as humans, like enriched soil for a rose. The foundations that we lay with someone, even a friend or colleague becomes the infrastructure to our relationship with them. These words can seem somewhat far fetched, but to simplify ‘First impressions are everything, and they count.’ It has been a long time since i had to make a first impression upon someone whom I deemed important enough to ensure i was enough myself and yet respectful of their culture. I recently went to my a friends house, who would only be more than a friend should his parents approve. Culture and tradition is a big part of our identity, of us knowing who we are, where we are from and where we belong. There are many arguments that can arise from this subject of ‘culture’ what may seem backwards thinking by one person is completely wholesome and real by another, that they abide it and support it.
I am not from a culture as such even though i am British. British culture is not what it use to be, like many other cultures and traditions. This is in part due to migration and technology. A first born generation immigrant could be born in Britain yet because of the cultural strength of their parents and traditions, they identify more with being ‘Indian’ etc even though they are born British and live in modern day Britain. Identity is something that we can never escape from, or should we as we need a sense of identity, be it heritage or language, that allows us to feel like we belong somewhere. And to of course, see the journey in which we have come as a person, from humble roots and life to a privileged lifestyle. Culture is important, even those who have a lack of it, as they can see and appreciate other cultures and their values. I believe culture and religion are very different things therefore will not include any religious opinions.
So i visited a country recently, Albania. I like to travel a lot and have been in different countries, six this year. Their cultures and traditions are beautiful. Their food and language I have enjoyed learning. It was going to Albania that seemed to draw a lot of peoples attention more so than my visit to Greece or Italy. Why? Because of the backstory of Albania, it was a communist country for many years and people suffered such hardships. The country was corrupt and of course unstable, both economically and politically. But they have one of the most beautiful countries i have been too, the people are so welcoming and their values and traditions are beautiful and well maintained. A mans word in Albania,is his life and oath, If he says something it is done. I like this, no, I love this. A man is strong presences in Albania, within his family and the community. And Albania loves coffee, and has some of the most tasty food i have ever tasted. And the guy i went there to see is a ‘stereotypical old fashioned British Gentleman type’. He embodies so many qualities that are rare in men today. So for me, a white British girl to find a genuinely beautiful guy, it would just be my luck he is Albanian and we are a cliche. But this is something i do not care for so much, for many years after finding myself, i stopped giving a shit about what people ‘think’ or what they judge me for. I cannot live my life to the fullest or the purest being true to myself if i live for other peoples opinions. Judgement and expectations are everywhere. Even friends have expectations of a their friendship with you, along with family, parents and lovers. Expectations are everywhere, but the only expectations that truly matter are the ones you have for yourself, and if you meet them. My expectations are to always do the kindest thing for myself and another person. I expect to live my life guilt free through always trying to do the right thing, by myself and others. This is why, when it came to meeting someone else’s parents, and having to accept these expectations are very real and need to be met did i become more nervous than i have been in many years.
I was slung into a situation where the whole family was there, the parents of which speak no english and i speak no Albanian. The father was a genuinely traditional Albanian man, extremely well respected by all his family. The mother, the typically caring motherly type, who was cooking as i arrived. I have piercings in my face and tattoos all up my arms on my feet, hands and legs. This was going to take a Goddam miracle. I wouldn’t say i am a lucky girl, but i am a girl who knows herself. Therefore i am confident that i am a good, honest person, and my intentions towards the family and their son, grew out of nothing more than love. I am sometimes such a honest person, and i ask questions and i love to learn and i never take any moment for granted at all. So i embraced the opportunity to speak with them (translated by one of their children) I found out that the father had the same sense of humour as the boy i had fallen in love with. This was comforting, as to laugh with someone washes away tension, and reinforces that you are just two humans. I liked that they were a traditional family, but one that had humour and love. In Britain we are not really family oriented, so it was beautiful to see such a close family, and it was so humbling to actually feel the love in the room. The way they spoke with one another, the way their body language interacted. There are certain things in life you need to see or feel to believe; like ghost i suppose, or the rush of pure love when you have a child. This was one of them to me. To see a family so respectful and humble vibrating with love. At that moment in time i realised how lucky the guy i was there with, was to have a family like this. I also realised how the family structure we grow up with really does impact who we are as people. It is within the family unit in which we build our first ever relationships, and experience the dynamics of love, trust and support. If we do not have a good experience of these, then our perception of relationships is flawed until we can grow enough to realise we can change that perception.
The approval from his family, which initially did not mean alot to me, meant the world to me. Not because i wanted to be accepted, by this wonderful lot of humans, but because i did not want to imbalance the relationship dynamics with any of them. If the father had not approved, then if i was to see this guy i was starting a relationship with, it would have to be in secret. This would of caused a string of negative emotions, him with his father for carrying on seeing me, so that would of caused dishonesty, and guilt. With me it would of strained mine and his relationship, as i would always know i was not worthy. It would of been a romeo and Juliet situation, and we all know how that ended.
So for the first time ever i really wanted their acceptance and not under the pretence of me wanting to flatter or manipulate them into liking me. These were such honesty and loving people that i could not of lived with my conscious if i tried to deceive them. So i was just myself and prayed they seen the purity in me as i saw in them. Because i knew if they did not approve, i would not let the guy lie to his father and carry on seeing me. I would not allow him to imbalance his relationship with his father because of me. And because i actually began to love this boy, i knew i would be heartbroken to let him go. But i know it would be the ‘right’ thing to do, for him and his family. I like to think i have that pureness in me, where sometimes you love someone enough to let them go. I think that is the purest form of unselfish love.
I talk so much in my blogs for love, the bad, the good, the betrayals and the lessons. I like to think make one person think, or feel better, or less alone in the pondering and the trials of relationships and love, alongside finding yourself. I found in that house pure love, and i wanted to keep it that way, i found honesty and respect, and i wanted to give that back as well as to maintain it.
The good news is i was welcomed and accepted. And I get to spend a month in Albania in January. And as excited as i am to see my boyfriend, i am equally as excited to see his beautiful sister, and kind brother, and his quirky cousin and his mom and dad, whom i respect more than i respect my own. I guess thats a British thing. Or i guess it could be the thing of ‘respect those who respect you, love those whom love you, and do for others what they would for you’.