So, I know all little girls are supposed to be made of sugar and spice and everything nice… and maybe I was at one time… but I’m really more of a frijoles and piñatas and sweet, cinnamon horchata kinda girl. You get me?
I feel at home in Hispanic culture. It’s obvious. I am all about the gaudy decor, cheesy romance and dramatic emotion of the Spanish-speaking cultures of the world. It’s like I was born to be a part of it. (I am also all about that bass… but that’s another post for another time…) The Americana individualist and lover of witty, sarcastic humor in me can occasionally find itself at odds with the Latino lifestyle. But for the most part I am all in.
Afternoon naps in the hammock.
Fresh green mangoes with salt and pepper.
Getting dressed up in my platform shoes for a night out. Or an afternoon at the park. You know.
So I started thinking back to when it all began. It had to start somewhere. I have no Hispanic ancestors. I didn’t even grow up with Hispanic friends. (I had a pretty boring, monocultural childhood)
I had a professor who asked me one time, “You’re part Hispanic, right?” And there have been countless others who say things like, “Oh, let me guess where you’re from! Venezuela?”
So the earliest I can remember taking interest in Latino culture as a child was due to the following two influences:
1. Josefina Montoya, American Girl doll. I read these fictional chapter books and became intrigued by the lives of early Mexican Americans. 2. Feature Films for Families, Friendship’s Field movie from 1995 (I still cry when I watch it) This movie is about a daughter of a farmer in the U.S. during the 1960’s befriending a Mexican boy who came to work the fields with his family.
Then all of this inspired me to write (I was really into creative writing as a kid. This is what happens when you don’t have cable TV as a child) my own work of fiction called “Josie” when I was in fourth grade. I didn’t understand anything about immigration at that time but I wrote an innocent little tale of a girl who came from Mexico with her family to work. (And of course it was a love story because what 4th grader doesn’t know how to perfectly write a plot about a couple romantically meeting and overcoming their cultural differences? …what??)
It ends with the two main characters marrying and living in a pretty little house they built in Mexico – on a hill by a waterfall. The usual.
Then I started to see the world beyond our neighbors over the border when I went on my first trip to Honduras at the age of 14. The rest is history!
As humorous and maybe strange as it was to always have had such a fascination with a distinct culture… I truly have felt the hand of God over my life as I look back on each of these defining moments. Things that stuck with me and shaped me to be who I am today – I would have never known where they would lead me!