I was born in Taos New Mexico in a trailer near a Native American reservation. It seems oddly fitting, that I was born in a place I never returned to nor do I have any ties to.
I don’t remember much although they say it was a place covered with arid deserts and robust sunrises. By the time I was six months old I was already on my first plane ride to Boston to see my family.
My dad was born into a large Italian American family. My Scottish mother always looked at them with awe as they were everything my mother didn’t have at the time. My mother’s parents died when she was nine and ten, and her twin sisters raised her but by 17 she had already graduated and by 21 she was married to my father after meeting him for three months.
By the time I was a toddler, we were heading to Peru and Bolivia for a research program for my Dad’s masters. Apparently I got terribly sunburnt, my mom’s passports were stolen and I got terribly frightened by an old man mask in a carnival which marked my life indelibly to the point that to this day I fear old people.
By the time I was five I had lived in New Hampshire, Conneticut and Somerville. By six, I was on my way to El Salvador in the middle of the war. I wore a scottish kilt on my first day and didn’t speak a word of spanish, but by the end of the school year I was almost getting d’s in the regular spanish class. I was forced to.
I also developed a strange accent in english so I didn’t stand out so much. I had enough of that already. My mother was a teacher in the same school, and I was forever marked as ” Miss DiMauro’s daughter”. A title which by all accounts I resented especially when my hair became less blonde. I grew up in two worlds, one was the privileged private school in El Salvador, the other was the rural and impoverished parts that we did on the weekends in Bahai activities. I also would visit my family every year , and they would bombard me with questions like :
Do they have roads in EL Salvador?
Is it all jungles?
At one point, I got so sick of the questions that I said ” Yes, I go to school in the jungle , with a potato sack as a uniform because they can’t afford anything else.” The funny thing is, they believed me.
I was always a clumsy kid falling into precarious positions, and was bullied for a long time. I also grew up at a time where bombs were heard in the distance, and gunfire and curfews. The electricty would go off and so would the water. But all of this made me who I am today, and I know that I can go through adverse situations and still come through ok.
Yet, it was also the most stable – and oddly at times beautiful part of my life. I have always had mixed feelings for El Salvador, where I have unbreakable ties to. I went to a very rich bilingual school, but I also went on the back of pickup trucks in dirt paved roads on the weekends in remote places off the beaten road. I got used to extremes… but it also taught me to be the same person wherever I was.
This did not come without a certain level of expectation. I was always not quite enough. Until I learned to be enough for myself. I also stood out most of the time as there were few gringos , this is now no longer true. No matter where I was, I stood out. ” Different’ became who or what I was, and it felt odd if I DID blend in.
I went to Umass Amherst upon graduation, filled with hopes and dreams of a new exciting life. I found that, despite it all, people were incredibly ignorant about El Salvador, and some were confused by me. I didn’t fit all the neat labels laid out in college, and I drifted in and out of the sea of diverse people surrounding me. I took advantage of the diversity, because for once I wasn’t the diversity…. I became friends from all different gammas of the spectrum and I loved it. I went to the multicultural dorm, the international dorm, and yes even the all black dorm…
Needles to say, I never totally fit in anywhere. But I got used to that as well.
After college I went to Ecuador, and then back to El Salvador, and then France, England and then El Salvador. I then lived in England for two years and then came to live here in Madrid. People tell me I should settle down, that I am unstable, but for me, travelling FEELS stable. I feel alive discovering new things, and feel pulled down if I am anchored too long. This does not make me unstable, and it does not mean you cannot have a base to build things. But some people are born anchorless, and learn and collect like fishnets caught onto the sea, and all these memories weave in and out.
Because my world, it has no boundaries, I fly free.