26 December 2011

"Nah, you're not! Have you seen you, lady?"

This was the main idea behind me, a little white kid with freckles and starkly dark brown eyes, going around staking claim in my Mexican heritage as a VERY non-Mexican-looking runt. For pretty much the whole of my life, I grew up being half-Mexican.

Not half Norwegian, not as mutt-worthy as I really am, just... half Mexican. Anywhere I went, any time I had the chance, I was looking for a way to butt in with my cool Mexican-ness. In the band room before school, meeting new friends, heck just meeting new people. Going to coffee, starting in a group, and then later as a so-called grown up, it'd be a conversation piece. Sometimes related to the topic being discussed, sometimes not. Most times not. Eventually it grew to be, "Hi. I'm Amy. I'm Mexican. And your name is?"

I don't look at it. AT ALL. I have fair skin that never tanned (until I was an adult) and about as much natural rhythm as any puritanical protestant fundamentalist. But there was no consideration of this. Not because of extreme Mexism in our house, no. After all, my dad was just a simple, proud man, deeply defined by the rich culture and history from where he came. But because he instilled that same pride into his whitey kids. We. Are. Mexican. And... I did have just enough rhythm at unexpected, effortless moments to trick myself into thinking I could be Latina. (Those moments didn't really stick, though. Just ask my 7th grade band teacher who didn't let me into the jazz band.)

No rhythm plus conductor equals no jazz for me!

 And isn't it really something that a man who grew up in Mexico, emigrated to the states with his single mother in the 60s, and mated with a Norwegian woman with starkly blue eyes teach his pale-faced, dark-brown-eyed kids to hold onto their culture?

So hold on we did, in varying degrees, to our Mexican heritage. Full-bore and headlong into an unsuspecting world where no one really dared to point out that we didn't really look the part.

Then one day, my dear college friend just kind of stopped me dead in my tracks by daring to ask with a puzzled frown, "But you're Norwegian, too. What about that part of ya?" Clearly she was appealing to my sense of culture and NOT my pale, shows-up-better-in-black-light visage. It made me think. For all of about two seconds. Then I'm pretty sure I changed the subject.

Then I had an Angst-For-Dad phase (you know, out of some crazy, ill-notioned thought that he should have reacted differently to me getting pregnant at 18) and did kind of focus on my Norwegian side. For about a day. Yeah, I looked up some stuff. Read that there is no real unified language as of yet, so instead of picking on dialect to try learning, I proverbially threw my hands up in the air and said, "Oh well, can't learn 'em all today. So why try." I know. Good, eh?

The best part? I am so full of contradictions I could make your head spin. It's fun living in my world! What with the cold Viking blood and the hot Aztec blood fighting itself in the same blood stream. It's a wonder I didn't end up bi-polar or ADHD. Guess I'll just have to settle for being Gemini.

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