A Battle of Two Cultures
I am a person who is completely split in two. I have grown up in two worlds, two families and two cultures.
I am a girl born and bred in the heart of New York City. I never had a backyard. I only had the brick wall I looked at from my 8th floor apartment window. I never watched miles roll by from the back seat of a minivan. I watched streets go by in taxis and strangers get on and off the subway. I have seen all of Central Park from on top of my father’s shoulders. I know that salty soft pretzels are a delicacy and that Nuts4Nuts smell much better than they taste. I grew up with the Yankees, the Mets and their subway rivalry, but I have never watched a college football game. I have never gone to sleep in complete darkness with crickets chirping outside. The lights from other buildings make patterns in the night and I fall asleep to trucks rumbling and sirens rushing past my building. I have become so accustomed to these noises that the night seems incomplete without them. I have seen the devastating poverty of the homeless and have walked past the filthy rich. I grew up as one of eight million. I have been a small figure. An almost insignificant member of this crazy city, I have had to struggle to find my place.
I am a girl from the Deep South. From Tennessee and Alabama, I have been raised a God fearing Christian. I was taught how to be a country club debutante with white gloves and frilly dresses, as well as a girl who knows how to cook fried chicken. And while I don’t like country music (evidence of my Northern upbringing leaking into the foundation of my Southern one), I have stacks of Johnny Cash and Elvis memorabilia in my attic. I can put on a Southern accent with ease and I have learned that the Rendezvous is the best place to get dry-rub barbeque in Memphis. For burgers, you go to Huey’s, the trashy bar where you shoot toothpicks at the corkboard ceiling with your straw once you have finished your food. I know that a Fazoli’s breadstick can cure anything, cornbread should be salty and smothered with butter, and iced tea should come already sweetened. I hear stories about my Confederate ancestors, such as my great-great grandfather, Battle Manassas Bull Run Brown, whose portrait hangs over the mantle. And at Christmas time we have spiced fruit, baked honey glazed ham, cheese grits and boiled custard with coconut cream cake. Foods that most of my friends back home have never tasted.
My two halves tug at me constantly inquiring, “Which one do you like best?” They are unaware that they are creating a Civil War inside of me. But shall the North triumph again? I have no way to tell. For all the conflict created by my two worlds I cannot help but think that I would not be myself without having been exposed to both of them. I know that I am all the stronger for being an alloy. I am a combination of two cultures. As I enter into the real world, where you must interact with people of all backgrounds, I am confident that I can relate to more people than most. I’ve had good training. I have been taught one of the most essential life lessons, to be open minded and accepting to all people. Blessed to have experienced these two unique environments, I now know that I can be comfortable and make the best of any situation life may throw my way.