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How It Feels to Be Mexican Me
I am Mexican, but I am no different than anyone else except for the fact that I am the only one that does not ride a “burro” and does not wear a “sombrero.”
I remember the day I became Hispanic. I had lived in Mexico City for my whole life, fifteen years. Everyone I knew was Mexican because almost no one from other countries came to live there, the only foreigners I ever saw were business men or tourists but not really in the city but in “tourist traps.” When an American ever came into town, it was inevitable to do a full friendly interrogation on the different lifestyles we had.
Some Mexicans are not truly fond of Americans so the novelty would grow old and they would let it go, but I was nice to everyone because I like to meet new people and also because I have American family. So I would go on and say “Bienvenidos a Mexico!” which means “Welcome to Mexico!” and then “Espero que se la pasen padrisimo” or “I hope you enjoy your stay.” Actually, the American Ambassador should take notice of how nice I was and thank me – I’ve made all of them enjoy their trip to Mexico and made them want to come back.
During that time of my life, Americans only differed from Mexicans in that they spoke another language and lived in another country. They liked to hear me speak with my “cool accent” and wanted me to tell them about our traditions, which they thought strange, were different than those they heard they were. But they enjoyed having the attention of the Mexican people. I was always seen by Mexicans as someone who liked the American culture too much, but nonetheless, I was Mexican, I was part of them and their culture and their traditions, I was their Paola.
But when I was fifteen, my parents decided to move, so we packed our things and moved to Florida. I left Mexico, but not only that, I left myself there, I left being Paola, but when I landed on the U.S., she wasn’t there anymore. I had been changed along the way, I had changed in my appearance and I had changed inside of me, part of me was left behind.
But I am not tragically Mexican. I am not depressed about being who I am or trying to hide who I am because I am not ashamed. I do not care about what anyone else may think because I am too busy living my own life. I am too strong for that.
There are always the kind of people who constantly remind you that your country is a third world country, or that America was able to take a part of Mexico, or that we will always be seen as those underdeveloped, uncivilized people. As for me, I do not listen to their words, because the past events will always stay there and now I’m just able to enjoy my life for who I am and thank my ancestors for it, because they paved my way for who I am today.
I don’t always feel Hispanic. Even now I can bring about that happy Paola who used to live in Mexico before the move and Diana came to steal her place. But when I most feel like I am different is when thrown into an enclosed space with thousands of voices.
For example, at school. Among all the people that attend school, I feel like going to a concert and listening to all the voices with the same, perfect tones, but then listening to one, too high pitched, which stands out from all of them, and then I know it’s me and I feel my race through each word. But it’s fine with me, because I will always be myself no matter what.
But sometimes it just happens the other way around. For example, at dinner, when all Hispanics sit down together to eat, we will forever get delighted at the sight of a familiar dish. When my mom hosts a party at our house and she decides to cook some traditional plates to make the night a memorable one, and she invites Mexican, as well as American people, I can definitely see the difference. Not because of the way we dress, not because of the way we speak, but for our passion over our traditions. When the food came out, you could hear the voices in the table starting to get loud, and the people’s faces shine. In my mind, the smell makes my senses live and my body craves for that familiar flavor which brings out so many memories. At the taste of it, it is like the first time all over again, you can feel the excitement. The texture, the smell, the taste, the feelings it arises! When we finish, I regain my posture and look around at the guests.
“That was a good meal,” one of the American guests remarks, nervously picking out the correct words.
A good meal. That is all he could get out of my night of enlightenment. He could only try judging something that I felt so deep in my heart. I felt him fade away and a wall was built up between our worlds. There and then, I felt who I really was.
Sometimes I just do not have any race and I am just me. When I go to Miami to “La Casita” and volunteer giving people in need food, I find myself, that happy girl who loves to help other and loves to meet people, and loves making people smile. That’s when I forget what race I am or where I am, because the only thing that matters is being able to give my support to someone else. In that moment, I feel like the most powerful woman.
I have no feelings about being an American citizen or a Mexican citizen. I just love my country and have learned to love a new one as well.
Sometimes I actually do feel discriminated, but I really do not care. I just simply think to myself how ignorant people can be to view the world in such a self-centered way. How could they not want to be with someone like me? It amuses me at times.
But most of the time, I just feel like one of the brands of the same kind of soap bar. They look different, they smell different, and they are made through the same process. They are all made to clean and in the end they are all used for the same purpose. Some will be chosen more over others and then make some be left out, but at the end, who is to say which brand is the best?