I grew up speaking Spanglish, think in English, and thought I was adopted until I was 13 because I'm the only female in my family over 5 feet tall. That's when my fourth sister shot up to my level and made me breathe a huge sigh of relief I wasn't going to have to look for my real parents and become the subject of some crazy documentary.
My Spanish has no regional dialect, which makes it easy for native speakers to know I'm American-born and my English is sometimes confuddled with words I cannot say without an accent (hello pina colada!) to confuse everyone else. And by the way, I roll my "r's" when I say the word "three."
Remember Chi-Chi's? Aside from it being a "Celebration of Food," the commercials were also reason enough for my sisters and I to fall down laughing as kids because we weren't allowed to say the word. It might have meant food to you. But in our house, chi-chi's was just another word for "boobies." And Cinco de Mayo? Yeah, we never celebrated it.
I wear a religious medallion and make the sign of the cross before doing anything that can alter the history of the world, like stepping on a scale or driving past a cemetery, but I only drag my ass to church on Easter. I have tias, tios, and just said good-bye to my Guelo (Gramps) when he joined my father and Guela (grammy) in el cielo last month.
And I didn't really know anything about my culture aside from the world my family surrounded us in until I took a Mexican History class in college. I wasn't the only first-generation representative in that room. And I wasn't the only one who felt a huge surge of cultural pride shoot through every fiber of my being when I read Victor Villasenor's Rain of Gold. Nor was I the only one in class to go out, buy the book in Spanish, and hand it with shaking hands to someone who meant the world to me.
My dad got that copy. And now I have it, as well.
I'm not going to the bar today. I'm making spaghetti for dinner...not tacos. But that's because I don't need a holiday to be who I already am.