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The Secret Language of Custom This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By Oelania P, Brooklyn, NY

   I am a foreigner in my grandparents' house. I roam,mapless, through a land whose cabbage smells and babushka dolls amazeand terrify me. Even the light shines differently there, with thenot-quite-rightness of light on unfamiliar territory: it's at adifferent angle and one shade shy of normal. Without a compass, Inavigate the choppy seas of an unknown language, drowning with eachsing-songy wave. Just as I'm about to go under a life preserver,English, is thrown at my head.

"Ev-lon," my grandmapleads. "Come on, have some more to eat. You don't even have anymashed potatoes! Shame on you!" She slaps a spoonful of snow-white,too-salty potatoes on my plate - her idea of love, my idea ofpunishment.

My family spends every major holiday with myUkrainian grandparents, and with each gravy-laden meal, I've felt moreand more like a tourist in a foreign land.

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