closer to the motherland


We'll be trekking down to San Diego this weekend to see our old neighbors, Edmond, Sasha, and Lara, who used to live across the street. They moved away last spring after Edmond took a job offer promising less corporate craziness. The worst part was that they took their daughter with them. She was three years old, so she pretty much had to go, but Lara was the kid in the neighborhood who was closest to Amy's age. It was hard to see such a close playmate move so far away. So tomorrow they'll reunite.

This trip means I'll also be swooping down close to Mexico, the land of my ancestry. Even though practically all my ancestors were born there, I am so far removed from that culture, so assimilated into the white middle class, that my ties to that past are nearly invisible. Through both intention and accident, the vestiges that remain need to be summoned in order to be recognized.

If you come into my house you don't see Mexican stuff. I don't speak with a Mexican accent. My skin is light. I had very little to do with being in this condition.

If you look at the history of the treatment of Mexicans and people of Mexican ancestry in this country between 1900 and 1970 you'll find some troubling accounts of abuse by individuals and institutions. The civil rights movement came along and, to some extent, helped to realign the outlook white Americans had toward folks from down south. Nowhere near as much as one would hope, but hey, humans ain't all that great brain-wise when it comes to stuff like this. So with this history in mind it's not so hard to see why some people would try to remove some of the outward signs of difference with the prevailing culture.

I could go on and on about this, and I probably will sometime soon, but for now suffice it to say... assimilation happened. So before you send me e-mails demanding I get back in touch with my raza, and berate my poor little pocho self, just go sit down, have a cerveza, and mind your own damn business.

* * * * * * *

The fellow on the right there is an ancestor of mine, though not an altogether official one. A long time ago some of the upper class got frisky with some of the lower class and whaddya know, there was a bit of a scandal. Anyway, we got the blood but we ain't got the entitlements of that upper crust familia that still has some serious influence in Mexico.

When I got out of high school I went down to live for a while in the place where this familia reigns and got to meet some of the folks. They were nice, some because they got wind I was "one of the breed without his papers", and some just because they were nice from the get go. I spent several months down there and came away with some of the greatest adventures of my life.

Maybe that will be my next writing project. Hmmm.

Welp, I'd love to stay and chat but I've gotta get packing for San Diego. Something tells me that in the next several hours I'm gonna see penguins, either at Sea World or the zoo, but I guess that's to be expected when you're an assimilated middle-class suburban daddy-dude como yo.

And it probably wouldn't be kosher to take Amy across the border to watch the bullfights.


Today's Music:

"El Zopilote Mojado" -- some anonymous mariachis -- ALL THE BEST FROM MEXICO


Wisdom of the Day:

We pay for the mistakes of our ancestors, and it seems only fair that they should leave us the money to pay with.

-- Don Marquis