THE CHILDREN OF CUBAN EXILES
WHO AM I?
By Sonia Guerra
I am the product of two cultures.
I like to think of myself as the perfect mix of both
the point of harmony between beliefs.
They've labeled me "Cuban-American".
And like the hyphen in this supposedly single phrase,
I see the separation, feel the distinction.
I am not truly part of either.
For some I will always be a "minority".
Despite my education and place of birth,
I cannot - nor will I - hide my heritage,
and so I return to "my people".
And yet ...
I find open arms of welcome in my Anglo world.
But the blood that we share is too thin;
We are the same, but not one.
Lost to me is the history of my parents' homeland.
I feel no tie to a forbidden land,
or to relatives I will never know.
Why should I continually mourn the past?
My life, my future, is in the present.
Across the water is a nightmare, a constant bad dream;
And I am not Don Quixote.
I cannot relate to the time before "El Exilio",
A time which seems almost mythical in its perfection.
For me it is just the melancholy ramblings of the old.
And yet ...
I sometimes ache with need,
the need to forget my Anglo teachings
To be able to join my elders in their fond memories.
To be able to go back in time and space,
Erasing my patronizing smile
and exchanging it with a sense of knowledge.
The knowledge of who I am and to whom I belong.
However, no matter how sincere this longing may be,
I cannot - nor will I - discard my nationality.
I will always be a guest in both worlds,
Outwardly welcomed, but secretly hoped that
I will not overstay my visit.
And yet ...
I am content with my life;
My destiny is not distasteful.
I am part of a new breed.
Our speech is sprinkled with both languages,
Switching randomly between both
until we find the "perfect" word.
Our food is international cuisine -
for breakfast we have café con leche with a bagel,
Lunch consists of Diet Pepsi and a media noche,
Macaroni and cheese is inconceivable
without plátanos maduros.
Our holidays are plentiful -
December 24 is Noche Buena,
December 25 is Christmas,
and we celebrate Reyes Magos on January 6.
And though we do not belong to Cubans or Americans,
We belong to each other ...
We are not "ellos";
We are not "them".
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