Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 15: Puerto Rican growing out of Puerto Rico

My grandparents from both sides were Puerto Rican and out of my grandparents came along my parents who by logic and genetics are Puerto Ricans too, which in return makes me and my siblings Puerto Rican. What everyone has in common except for me? They were born in Puerto Rico and I wasn't. I am a Georgia peach born along the coastline of Savannah and which growing up made me super annoyed because I felt like I was not a true Puerto Rican but that is not how ethnicity works. I may have been born outside of the island and raised out of it but that does not exclude me from my own culture. I did not obtain a Puerto Rican accent nor do I know or speak Puerto Rican slang, but I at least learned how to speak Spanish by the time I was four or five I was speaking on my own without my mom having to translate for me. Before learning Spanish though I had only knew how to speak in English which to some households that should be the goal until you realize that your own mom does not understand a word you are saying. My mom knew very little English at the time so when I got to speaking language phase of my life, my mom and I hit a language barrier. Yet we learned together through our language barrier because through her I obtained my second language and my mom can now understand when I speak English, even though she would still rather speak Spanish. Depending on where you are in Latin America, Spanish is spoken in different dialects and words are described differently as well. So when I was taught Puerto Rican Spanish I thought I was set and ready to go until I met my best friend who is Mexican and her Spanish was slightly different from mine. There was even this time I was sitting in the car with my friend and we started talking about money and without thought I said "cincuenta chavos?" (Puerto Rican Spanish: fifty cents?) and they all looked at me like if I said something absurd. Then I have realized I basically said fifty boys because chavos to them are either boys or kids. Yeah... 

Growing up outside of the island, many people automatically thought I did not know Spanish because when I speak English I do not have an accent. Which makes sense because why would I have an accent in my first language? So because I was assumed I did not know Spanish it is as if I was not Latina. I remember in high school there was this other Puerto Rican girl in my technology class and I could tell because of her accent. Excited that there was another Puerto Rican, I wanted to be friends with her. I grew up most of my life in a border city close to Mexico so not only did people did not think I spoke Spanish but they also assumed that I was Mexican. And I do not know why she felt disgusted or better than me for having a Puerto Rican accent when I did not. That should not make me any less of Puerto Rican than she is. Which that offended me and so any time I would see her around campus I would just brush her off. Probably was not the greatest decision but then again she should of been nicer to me. 

Another thing about growing up outside of the island is having all of my extended family living on the island. So not only are states are in between us but the Atlantic Ocean as well. I have not visited the island in two years which may not seem a lot but there were times where I would not visit in four or more years. I did not get the privilege to grow up with my primos (cousins) or grow close relationships with my tias (aunts) or tios (uncles) or even with my abuelos (grandparents) for that matter. Which I found a little unfair in comparison with my friends who had family close by but it has taught me to be patient and appreciative for what I have. While many people may go to Puerto Rico for vacations, I go to visit family and what better place to visit family on a beautiful island in the Caribbeans? Every time I go to Puerto Rico is like I am welcomed back home from an extremely long trip and a bit of reality is put on hold and a bit of it placed back because you realize that everyone has grown older and some of the situations have changed. I still feel wonderful though to be connected back with my family where I can talk to them in person instead of through my phone screen. 

Puerto Ricans are everywhere. We can have somehow sense when there is one nearby. You do not have to be on the island to realize who is Puerto Rican because you will know through our personalities. We have been known to be loud, open, easy-going and at times judgmental people. We normally want to have a time well spent. Crack open the dominoes, play some salsa on the old stereo, bring out the cola champagne, and the empanadillas and you have get together set in the backyard. Not the same as having a throwback at the beach but we do what we can. I think that is what is so wonderful about my culture that even from far you will always have a piece of the island with you. In fact I was making these well known pastries from Puerto Rico called pastelillos which they are essentially turnovers with guava paste in side and if done well it's sprinkled with powder sugar on top. Every time I go to Puerto Rico it's just one of those must haves so stopping at a bakery is a must! 

I am proud that I was born to be Puerto Rican. I love my culture, I love my island, I love our Spanish language and even though I fear that I may be underrepresented because I am a Latina woman, there is nothing I would change. And like we Puerto Ricans say, WEEEEEEEEEEPA!

Where is your culture from?

xx Chavelita

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