Usually when I go back home, due to work I can’t stay longer than two weeks, which is already an outrageously long period from a Japanese point of view. I love going back home … until I have my first argument with my mom. Then I think of going back to Japan as going back home, where I don’t have to deal with all the issues that seem to come as a package when you are a Kurdish girl, who grew up in Germany as the third generation and has chosen a life in Japan with her Japanese husband.
This time though, due to the fact that I’m in between jobs, my vacation was four weeks long, and going back to Japan surprisingly didn’t necessarily feel like home (though I couldn’t wait to see my husband again). Back in Osaka, I realized how much I missed my mom already, and how I’d love to be around her on a regular basis.
Then I wondered (like Carry Bradshaw wonders in “Sex and the City”…):
Maybe “not dealing with family issues” was not really what I wanted?
Maybe having my family around me, together with all the tornado rides I have with each family member, is something I miss and want back in my life?
One night I talked to my mom’s precious friend and next-door neighbor about our wedding in Hawaii one year back. It was one of the toughest decisions I made back then but because I was sick and tired of family issues – my father not talking to me, his mother and sisters bad mouthing my mom on occasions, I longed for a wedding far away from all of that, something that was neutral to everything that made us us, from German, Turkish, Kurdish to Japanese. Hawaii seemed the perfect place. Like Switzerland but with palm trees.
Our wedding was beautiful and we had a fantastic time, but besides my mother, neither my father, nor any of my relatives attended our wedding.
Now that one year has passed by, the memories of the wedding ceremony are being accompanied by a touch of sadness.
I’ll never forget my mom’s eyes before she walked me down the aisle. She wanted to be happy for me with all her heart. I could see how much she tried. But here she was- an Anatolian Kurdish woman, who worked in factories since she was a young girl to support her mother and siblings, who got married at 19 and went to Germany to start a life with my father AND his mother and five younger sisters, who worked hard all her life – and now she was about to do what was supposed to be her ex-husband’s job, at a Western style wedding, with none of her siblings by her side, on an American island, far away from anything that was related to her culture, and anyone who could understand her heavy heart. But she went along with all of that. For me. To make me happy.
When I told my neighbor about my slight regret about not having had all my family at the wedding, she became rather quiet. It turns out that what I told her, occupied her mind so much that she brought the topic back on the table the next day.
“Seval”, she said, “in order to understand how much your family means to you, you had to have your wedding in Hawaii. In that sense, you did the right thing for yourself, and in that sense Hawaii was the key to come to this realization.”
I felt like bursting into tears. What she said felt right, and like a relief. I shouldn’t regret anything. I shouldn’t condemn myself for only having thought about my own happiness when I chose Hawaii, though I’m not sure if I can forgive myself 100% for my selfishness, since it was not only my family but also my husband’s mother and partner not being able to come all the way to Hawaii.
All my life I wanted to be nothing but Seval – NOT the Kurdish girl, whose parents are from Turkey, who was born and raised in Germany, who married a Japanese and lives in Japan – JUST Seval.
But the truth is, I AM the Kurdish girl, whose parents are from Turkey, who was born and raised in Germany, and who lives in Japan with her Japanese husband. I am ALL that, including the family issues. And ALL THAT is Seval.
It just took me a wedding in Hawaii and a neighbor to understand that.
Life is really funny, but only when you get the fun part.
P.S. I love you, Mamischko! And thank you Masa for letting me do our wedding in Hawaii.