Ever since I was small I was expected to be something or other. Lately,because I speak English with an American accent I am expected to be American. I get the same question over and over : So if you grew up in El Salvador why do you have an American accent? I can’t really give a concise answer. And if you listen closely you will find that there is something slightly off with how I speak. There are times when I will speak in ” Literal English” , or I will write Spanish in a ” gringa” way. I am afraid I am a victim of spanglish.
The true ” Spanglish” user will do it without thinking. Lo mas probable es que they weave in and out of the conversation sin que se den cuenta that they are actually doing it. It is what comes most natural to them. When they can’t find the words, they can simply dive into the pool of ” others” which best fits their mood.
Often I am asked if I dream in a certain language. Again, I can’t answer that it is greatly dependent on who I am speaking to at the time. I often change with the culture I am with as well. When I am in a spanish speaking environment I am more detailed oriented, sensitive and caring. In an English environment I tend to be more logical and detached. It’s a strange way of adapting to the culture you are in.
However, I am constantly asked to choose sides. I am asked to say I am one or the other. When in reality it’s so jumbled together, it can often be like a girl looking into a big messy globs of paint which is constantly dribbled into a the well… it is always changing colours.
It got me thinking…why do we have to be defined by who or where we live? Certainly culture is part of us, but the more I travel and live the more I realize how truly we have more in common than we think. There is no ” Other” , we all love , we all grieve… There are always mothers who worry over their sons, men who care for their wives, there are always things that cause us pain.
Yet we forget that while we feel the same we might not express them in the same way. This is why it is so important that we try to empathize with others instead of trying to make them like our own jagged reflection. I remember in college some latino girls would get so insulted that I grew up in Latin America. They would move their hips in defiance and look at me up and down and tell me I was ” pretending”.
I find that sort of thinking sad. This is why I love London. The moment you cross the threshold in the station you are surrounded by every country in the world, and yet they are all Londoners. They are part of this intrinsic quilt of life , and do not feel compelled to conform to any particular label. Perhaps this is the best wisdom of all . We are all part of ” We” but we are also an ” I”, a beautiful individual in the world.