“You’re from Brooklyn? You don’t sound like it.”
I head back to New York tomorrow. B left earlier this afternoon, leaving me to fend for myself at this lovely, but uncomfortable, almost awkward dinner party.
The guests were very nice and the later it got in the evening, the better things became. But early on, when everyone first arrived, I wasn’t sure if I would make it through the evening. Some of the conversation topics made me feel uncomfortable, even though I wasn’t part of the conversation. It was just a re-hashing of old times, if you will.
I kept my mouth shut. I sat there with what I hope was a convincing smile plastered on my face.
I left twice to go into the living room to read.
One woman couldn’t believe that I have lived in Brooklyn for all my life, which, with the exception of the first four years of my life, is true. It was almost accusatory. “You don’t sound like it.” She mentioned she has a friend from Brooklyn, someone with a real New York accent.
Everyone is also disappointed I don’t have a Russian accent. If it wasn’t for my name, we wouldn’t have to discuss my background at all. No one would know or question me when I told them I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole life.
What I’ve started to do instead now is lie. It’s easier. Everyone is so fascinated about my Russian background, especially since Russia is always in the news, and I’m tired of discussing it. Even when I tell people I moved here when I was four years old, they ask me if I remember anything from the early years, have I gone back to Russia. Sometimes the person still might not believe me and press for more, but I don’t want to.
It used to be that I didn’t tell anyone anything about my background, about my life, and that slowly changed after my father died. People have assumed that I must be so public with everything in my life because I post so much on social media but having the Internet as a buffer makes it easier. On Twitter, I have so few real friends on there so it’s a good space to be more open. But anytime someone in real life asks me about something I posted, I shut down and change the subject. I don’t like it when the two worlds merge.