An an immigrant and a writer, I’m interested both in the immigration that Greece has experienced since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, as well as in understanding how immigration defines my life in the United States. The two themes underpin FACING ATHENS and will figure large in this blog too. Some six years ago, I wrote about how I understood my immigrant experience for The Times. Rereading the essay in the context of the Greek debt crisis may enrich readers’ understanding of life in Greece, which I think makes the piece worth posting here.
“A Lifetime of Living Half a Life,” NYT, Nov. 21, 2004
Immigrating to New York from Athens, my father promised, would make us rich. As a boy, I never fully believed him. Still, I welcomed the fantasy, not so much because I yearned for more toys or better food than my working-class parents provided me in Greece, but so that they might stop fighting. The lack of money was a nightly topic for my parents and the spark that set them off. Their futile form of accounting began after dinner. Seated around the kitchen table with its flowered vinyl tablecloth, my mother was obligated to report her day’s spending to my father, while he, pen in hand, scribbled the figures across stained paper napkins. The tension, already high, mounted if she’d spent too much, or if his calculations showed that she ought to have more money left than the amount found in her purse. READ MORE