Two Cultures One Heart
Most people live their lives knowing the name of the street they grew up on. Others have grown up with a certainty about where they come from. I grew up with a blend of two cultures: the one I was raised in and the one I was born into.
I was born in San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, Mexico, but I was raised in various cities in Texas. I received my citizenship at birth because my father was a citizen before I was born. From the beginning, life was divided in two: where I was born and where I grew up. My whole life has been a series of driving or taking the bus from here to Mexico and back. We make sure to go at least once a year, if not twice. It became my family's thing, just like it is for other Hispanics.
We officially moved to Texas in 2005 because of my dad's job. He worked in a power plant in Fulton, Arkansas. We spent the first four years moving around because of my dad's job. One year in Houston, one year in Dallas, two years in Baytown, and then I started the third grade in Texarkana, and we have been here ever since.
Our entire life had been a bilingual road trip until we got here. We went from speaking Spanish most of the time to having classes only in English. That made things a little difficult, considering that we had no prior experience that was completely in English. Our whole lives, we had someone helping us with a few things in English, and suddenly, the subtitles were gone. It was something that my siblings and I had to adjust to quickly.
Spanish at home and English at school. Spanglish with each other.
I was raised in a Mexican household, but when I went to school, I tried my best to fit in with the rest of the kids. I wanted to dress like them and listen to the same music they would listen to, but deep down, I knew I wasn't like them. And my parents ensured that I knew where I came from and knew about my roots and culture. They wanted my siblings and me to make sure that we never forgot where we came from, and that's the reason why I take so much pride in my roots and culture.
My parents were a bit strict regarding certain things, but they were just worried about my safety. When I was little, I was not allowed to go to sleepovers, and my mom would go along when I was invited to birthday parties. Most of my friends thought it was weird, I thought it was annoying. I never really understood why, but over time, I began to realize that they just wanted the best for me. They were scared. My dad's strict behavior was because he didn't want me to go through what he had gone through.
As I got older, they became more trusting with letting me go out with my friends, but my dad's words never left my mind when I was not home or with them. His words are like a good corrido; they always have a way of sticking with me.
As much as I love the two cultures that rule my life, I went through a time when I just didn't know who I was. I was divided. I didn't want to be the stereotypical Mexican daughter, but I also didn't want to disappoint my family. I was so scared to stray too far off the path that I thought had been laid out for me that I ignored the other paths that were made available to me. I was too caught up with trying to be everyone else definition of perfect.
I learned from a young age that you can't please everyone. I was too Mexican to hang out with my American friends and too 'white-washed' to hang out with my cousins in Mexico. I felt like I didn't belong anywhere. I was too much of something to be anything.
The things that I liked and disliked were a blend of both cultures. And when it came to my music, it was even more of a mix. Some days, it is pop with reggaeton mixed in; others it's all banda and country. Music has always been a big part of Mexican and American culture, and part of the reason why I listen to such different genres is because, in one way or another, I found a way to relate to the lyrics on both sides.
The food I like, the clothes I wear, the music I listen to, and even the way I talk became a window into my life, showing how much these two cultures had influenced me.
As I got older, I realized I didn't have to get rid of any parts of myself to feel okay with who I am. I learned that both of these very different cultures are the reason why I am the person that I am. I couldn't live without either side nor would I want to. These two cultures are the reason why I am who I am. I am an imperfect blend of both.