I am not the kind of person who craves attention. No, I always prefer to blend in with the crowd as a watcher, an observer, never seen who sees everything. Blending in, I was afraid, was going to be a bit of a task in moving to another country. At first I figured, how hard would it be to just look Greek? Sure, in one-on-one conversation I would be immediately outed as a damn American, but could I manage to blend in with a crowd, unnoticed?
My first realization that I could not help but be different in a Greek world was my first time on the Metro in Athens. When I looked at the people around me, I noticed basic similar features: brown eyes, prominent (but attractive) noses, dark hair (except for those that dyed their hair blonde, with obvious roots), stated eyebrows. I knew immediately that my light blue eyes might be an instant giveaway, my tiny nose, my light eyebrows - why, I didn't fit in here at all! At least it was Athens, a city with 4 million people, and several of those immigrants. Even if I was noticed, no one would care, or pay any attention to it. I could survive in relative obscurity. Phew!
That all changed when we moved to the island of Kos. Of course, all the Greek islands are tourist traps, and Kos was supposedly quite popular with Brits. I figured, if anyone noticed me, they would peg me for a tourist, be glad I was supporting their small island, and move along. But that was not to be. My husband's camp was not in the main town on the island, where I could have blended in easily, but in a tiny village along the southern mountain range. A tiny village where everyone knows everyone else, and tourists only come to frequent the tavernas and gift shops. I was grateful when I learned of the Dutch jewellers who had their shop in the village, at least there were other xenos there. But my husband's rank, and his position as a doctor, automatically drew attention to us, and the fact his wife was an Amerikanida (American woman) spread through that tiny village like wildfire. Everyone knew who I was, and I have no doubts that everyone gossiped about us, perpetuated no doubt by our landlady, who could hear our every move. It was at this point that I realized that no matter what I did, how hard I tried to fit in, how well I learned the language, how well I could cook mousaka, I would forever and always be Amerikanida to Greeks.
Being Amerikanida isn't so bad, I suppose, aside from taking the blame for Dubya now and then. I had to hide in virtual obscurity after the last election, when a Greek friend visited from Athens and inquired "what happened?" after Dubya won again. Hey, I cast my absentee ballot, although a part of me wonders whether or not they even count them.
Most people here don't automatically recognize Tennessee, although several seem to know Nashville, and quite a few only recognize Tennessee because of Jack. In the end it doesn't matter I guess. My Greek husband loves me, my Greek in-laws love me, and I love them. I couldn't ask for anything more, even if I am forever Amerikanida.