In my early twenties, I was in a very formative 5 year relationship with a Muslim Albanian man from Montenegro… who had sought asylum in Canada. Once he became a Canadian citizen (with my help& talent to manage complicated paperwork and constant hounding of Immigration Canada), he went back to home and got married to a 19 year old girl his mother chose for him. It sure did hurt and that betrayal (since we were living together and talked marriage/shopped for rings) has forever changed me.
One of the things that I still miss is the culture & tradition that he brought into my life… a richness that I find still lacking in a mostly Canadian bred-culture. Mostly – it’s borrowed from everyone… so many of us, don’t have a culture that is uniquely our own. ANYHOW… I miss the music and dance – and the food and wine!! Oh dear lord… I truly do miss it!!! The tradition, the meaning behind each move, each lyric, each glance and each hip shake… something that I embraced and participated in. It is so foreign in our Western society.
To this day… when I hear music with similar intonations and rhythms… it brings me back to my early twenties, when I felt like I belonged to something bigger than me. Times have changed. I have changed… but what hasn’t changed is my love for tradition and culture. I have since embraced my love for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music, dancing and food. It is steeped in a richness and language that … well… truly is foreign on more levels than the surface. It still makes me want to get up & dance …
I did learn to dance some traditional Albanian line dances… in fact, I was often asked to lead the first dance of the night with many of the Albanian women. (I was the chair-person that organized the very first Flamurit in Windsor, Ontario and also, organized a welcoming party for many displaced Albanians during the Kosovo War, raising $20,000 that night to send to camps) I loved surprising many with the fact that this non-Albanian Canadian girl could dance as they did… and dance very well! It was a very strong community in Windsor and eventually – the community took over organizing these events … but I was honored to have been one of the first to help this community find their roots even if they were displaced from their homes.
When I left 8 years ago… I lost touch with the Albanian Community, people who I was once very close with. Mostly because of the relationship ending… and as much as they adopted me as one of their own by making a public presentation of a double-headed Eagle Albanian gold pendant… making me an honorary Albanian… Life has a way of getting in the way of such things, especially far removed.
I have had a penchant these last few days to go back to that feeling of belonging and richness of culture. I have been listening to a lot of music that is very similar to that of what I once listened too with my ex. I rekindled my love for Cheb Mami and his music – and no, he’s not Albanian (best known for his collaboration with Sting in Desert Rose – but listen to Halil & Let Me Cry – I really like those songs) … but it’s very similar to what I fell so deeply in love with all those years ago.
Its rather difficult sitting at my desk at work without breaking into dance… scarf twirling in the air… hips shaking… and going back in time to a place that I remember with great fondness. It reminds me of how far I’ve come … and how much further I have yet to go.
Time has changed many things since those days.
But what doesn’t change is music… and where it can take you.
It can heal parts of you that are still raw and tender to touch.
It can heal wounds left from battle scars…
And it takes me back to the reason why I stayed in SW Ontario for 14 years when I was to be only for 3 months.
I thinks it time to make peace with that… so I can go home after a very long 3 months away.
(I will see if I can’t post pictures and music later tonight when I get home)