Letter from the Universe to an Ordinary/Extraordinary/Immigrant Girl
You’ve spent over a decade trying to make it work. You learned a language that hurts your face, you said goodbye to your home, your comfort zone, your roots and everything else that needed no explanation in your heart or mind. You started a family in a place where you weren’t a child. You learned nursery rhymes that you never sang as a kid. You put real candles on a Christmas tree even though you internally panicked at the thought of your kids going up in flames. You fit-in, every time. You passively questioned what it meant about your identity, but you did it nonetheless.
You were careful not to assimilate, because "educated" expats don’t have to. You weren’t dependent on the foreign state. You didn’t have to be here/there. Still, you cared what they thought about you. You knew you would never look or sound like the rest, who take home for granted (as you once took home for granted). You didn’t hide who you were but you also didn’t be who you are.
You yanked out a couple of roots. You drank the kool-aid, “you’re here now, make your life here.” You took a step too far into the here and away from, not just the past, but from you, your culture, your view of the world, the way things make sense to you.
Hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a delicate balance. You wanted approval, admiration and acknowledgement that you tried. You also wanted to challenge yourself, at least that’s what you told yourself.
But you realized, (it has taken you quite a bit of time) that you follows you wherever you go. It watches while you try on another exterior, but it keeps reminding that you’ve forgotten something, you’ve left something behind in the changing room.
A country ain’t nothing but a place. A place is incidental, it's the you that that's the constant. Pick up your boots immigrant/ordinary/extraordinary girl, dust them off, walk on your own, lift up your chin, look at your blue-eyed world with your brown eyes and count and sing in the language you know. One, two, three. . . look at me, (or don’t, it doesn't matter anymore) Four, five, six, pick up sticks. Is it corny? Of course it is. You are corny, you were born in the 70s, you wore brown and orange to kindergarten and you drank from plastic cups in neon colors, you ate too much, non-organic junk food until you got to college, you listened to hip hop, you did The Wop, you watched too much TV, you thought New York was the center of the universe, you cursed too much, through your cracked open Brooklyn window, you listened to Meringue blasting from the corner store and you couldn't help but shake your black girl’s posterior, you once smoked a blunt with a half Jewish, half Iraqi friend, you wore heels that were too high and stayed out too late, you read the New York Times in the subway using the ¼ fold that makes sense.
You became a woman in the imperfect place of superficial people who start too many wars around the world. That’s where you come from. This is who you are and you like you. You are happy to shake the native’s hand and listen to his story but you also don’t need his approval or his opinion about it. Not any more.
Welcome to your new year, ordinary/extraordinary/immigrant girl. Welcome to 2012.