One day we’re all going to be the same race. I can’t wait. I give it seven more generations. All of our skins will be caramel colored and our eyes brown. We’ll all have Christmas trees, menorahs, and burkas. We’ll all walk on the same side of the street. We’ll eat kimchi tacos and collared green pierogis. Half of comedians will be out of jobs. Kids will fail the high school slavery lessons because they just won’t grasp the idea. Mexican food will just be called food. Aliens will say, “Humans. You just can’t tell them apart.”
Until then, we’re in race limbo. Some of us are sixteen things. Some of us are half and half. Few of us have papers that would win dog shows. In the end, it doesn’t matter. We’re all living. We’re all here. Our ethnicity is rather unimportant within the grand span of the universe.
But for me it’s always been an issue. I’ve always wanted to be ‘something else.’ In high school, I hung out with the Greeks and named myself Laurenne Salapoulous. In college, I only dated black guys and signed up on BlackPlanet.com as BigBootyWhiteGirl (what? I do have a rather large booty for a white girl). I was searching for culture, and I didn’t know where to look. I wanted customs and tradition. I wanted to know special dances and recipes handed down from an ancient great grandmother. What I think I really wanted was a big family. My mom is the best. But a single mother and an only child can lead to some less-than-riveting Christmas dinners. You can play few card games with two people.
Since most people on my dad’s side were dead, I never felt like I could really embrace his cutlure. But if anyone had one, it was him. While my mom is third generation American, my dad was first. My dad’s baby books are all in Spanish. He was raised speaking Spanish with his very Spanish dad. He even went to high school in Madrid! Still, this half thing bothered me. I felt like a faker trying to know more about my very own Spanish culture without having an actual relative teach me. I sort of felt like my speaking Spanish was as phony as Madonna’s sudden British accent.
Of course, this was something I totally made up in my head. There is not a committee of Spanish people out there evaluating whether or not I learned how to make a typical Spanish tortilla from my grandmother or the internet. I guess everything anybody is self-conscious about is really NOT that important. When I finally analyzed it, it reminded me of junior high when I used to bring a curling iron to school because I thought I’d be judged if my bangs weren’t perched in a perfect wave above my head. You’ll never guess but nobody cared about my bangs as much as I did. Still, I was so super self-conscious and afraid to use the language I absolutely love.
In order to graduate from Psychology School (which is almost over!), we had to choose a thesis project that we’d take on for 9 months. The goal is to accomplish something that we’ve always been scared of doing. Something that comes from our heart. Something that we’ve always thought impossible. Some people climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Some people learn how to ride horses or write a book or start a business. The idea is that we’ll each run across many instances of “I can’t.” We’ll hate life. We’ll have a hard time. We’ll make mistakes, choke, suffer (yes, I am paying money to suffer). And from all of that, we’ll learn how to overcome fears, how to believe in ourselves, and that we can accomplish something we never thought possible!
I chose to figure out my own culture and clear out all the weird issues I had with it, the goal being to feel comfortable speaking Spanish with anyone and to speak it so confidently that I could use it in my career somehow. I wanted to stop searching for things outside of me and finally just define myself by learning about myself (seems kind of obvious now). Well… IT WORKED! I learned a lot by analyzing myself over and over again. Those details I will spare you, but I have several 30-page reports that can lead you down the holes in my brain. Basically, I’ve spent the last two years studying myself, which is the most self-centered degree ever. And obviously fascinating. What I learned is that I am an American who really wants my father’s culture to live on because I’m the LAST SALA! And that’s okay. I’ve taken Flamenco classes for six months. I’ve been seeing a private tutor weekly, and my Spanish is off the chain (as they say). I feel comfortable hablando con todo el mundo.
I’m a mix of cultures. I’m my own culture which, is a selective blend of my mom’s Polish cookies, my dad’s Spanish brandy, and a few episodes of Jersey Shore that I purchased one day in a moment of weakness. Sorry. In the end I’m really American.
Part of my project required that I put my Spanish out there without worrying about people judging it. So, I wrote some Spanish poetry, which helped me to realize that I really like poetry! Who knew? This whole thing is blowing my mind. So, I put that bitch online, and I like it. It’s called Half & Mitad (mitad = half).
Here’s an excerpt:
The project culminates with a summer trip to Spain. You are allowed to create your own project, and I happened to write one that included a mandatory trip for the ENTIRE summer to immerse myself in the culture that runs through my bliggity blood. SO I AM LEAVING NEXT WEEK FOR SPAIN AND
IM NEVER COMING BACK I WONT BE BACK UNTIL September! Yahooooooooooooooo (I think everyone would benefit from this school).
Thanks to everyone who has been learning lessons with me along the way during these past 2 years of self-analyzation. I can’t wait to get back to writing about vaginas!