Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where I'm from

I am completely shocked at how moved I am by these moments leading up to Barack Obama's inauguration. I have been moved to tears all day. True that years of attempting stoic badassery in my youth have backfired and now I'm the kind that cries at insurance commercials, but I am just amazed at this moment. At so many people coming together. At the hope.

My relationship with the United States is one I am still working to understand. My heart is in Mexico. I left Mexico before I was ready, and resented this country for that. I have struggled about what it means to look like I'm 'from' here but feeling 'from' somewhere else where I will always look like an outsider. I haven't lived in Mexico in 20 years. (20 years!) which ads more confusion about where it is I'm from.

When I first moved to Mexico, it was a different story. I was 8, and didn't want to leave my friends. I didn't know anything about Mexico. I thought donkeys and cactus, and as much as my sisters and I laughed at all the questions we'd get when we came back to visit- (do you have water there? Have you heard of the Dallas Cowboys?) I might have asked those questions too, at 8.

We DROVE to Mexico City from Rochester NY. It was long. It was hot. My two sisters, my mother and father and I- in a large bright orange van with out air conditioning. With a car sick collie and a cat who screamed the whole way. We got to the border and were turned away- the one person who could sign the papers for us to cross the border was on vacation. I'm not sure how long we were detained, but long enough for us to detour to live at our grandparents house in Colorado and go to school there for a few months. When we finally got to Mexico we lived in a hotel for (ever? It seemed long), our belongings stuck in New Orleans - (I don't know why, I was 8).

I wasn't happy. My cat ran away, I didn't speak the language, everyone stared at me because I was blond. I vowed to never learn the language. Having read the Black Stallion way too many times I often (too often to comfortably admit) tried to look wistfully, mane blowing in the wind, nostrils twitching, in the direction of my home. I am very directionally challenged, I could have been longing for South America for all I know.

I'm not sure when it changed. Somewhere during my 10 years there, Mexico wove itself into my being. As soon as I recognized this, I learned Spanish what seemed like over night. I stopped fighting it, and it came out of my subconscious. I fell in love with every aspect of Mexico, the ground, the dirt even. I understood what it was like to love a place- why people fight for their country. I think that was the beginning of the end of the aforementioned stoic badassery

Watching Obama today, and listening to so many people from so many places and walks of life feel at home here makes me remember that it takes all kinds. Today I am proud, if not for a country then for a people. Who are here, home, from everywhere, and that is the great thing about this country.

While was sitting here, waxing poetic about where one is from, my daughters were in the kitchen dumping water on the floor. So right now I'm from the house that has no dry towels.


Left of Ordinary said...

Stoic badassery. hehe. I'm sorry, I know I haven't known you very long in the grand scheme of things and despite our involved conversations about ourselves, I STILL have a hard time, seeing gentle, kind, funny you as a stoic badass. (one who gardens and saves plants, wasps and dogs?) :)

I know you have NO problem at all picturing me as a nerd. (it's ok - I know I still am one).

As someone who is definitely not American (and yes, us Canadians have running water, indoor toilets and no we do not all live in igloos)... I've also been tearing up all day. I'm moved by Barack Obama and find I'm hopeful despite my own reservations of the big picture. In my heart I want to be a part of a generation that truly does make a difference and I think we're all hoping that THIS is the man to help lead the way.

Katydid said...

You just put into words exactly what I was thinking yesterday. I love you.