What’s your history…. where are you from… what’s your family… I feel so conflicted. I’m Irish and Scottish and British and German and Swedish. I’m a direct descendent of Sadie Hawkins but much closer are the immigrants, John & Mary, the Wolfes, the farmers and the bakers, the soldiers and the ladies in waiting. What am I? I’m an American.
There are ties of sentiment to those countries that my people came from. It’s amazing to see a stranger reflect your father, your mother, your cousin. I don’t see too many rosy cheeks in Southern California, and my blue eyes are considered quite surprising. There’s a pull to the music, the clothes, the stories, the lands.
But I am not a child of one motherland, I’m the child of many. I’m the child of the melting pot. I’m an American. I’m a child raised on salt and sand – by grandparents from the deep south and a mother from the midwest. Who am I? My past speaks to my heart, but it won’t answer your question.
I was raised in the barrio, on a farm, in China, riding around in the back of a VW bus following gypsies, at the beach, and in the prettiest little neighborhood you ever did see. Who am I? I’m an American.
I can tell you stories of my family, of the ones who were desperately poor – and the ones who received gifts from a queen. Same number of generations back, in very different directions. I have the ring, and I’ve seen the fingers permanently marked by those cotton burrs. Which hands were the ones who touched my life most profoundly?
People always seem to want to make things easy, simple, straightforward. You can’t pin me down by asking after my grandmothers or great great grandfathers or even where I went to college. Life is complicated. Layered.
Influenced by the past? Of course! But the pieces fit together in a kaleidoscope, not a paint-by-number kitten. I am more than the sum of my parts, I am myself.
And I am an American.