Saturday, July 18, 2009

Being "normal"

It's being hunting me for weeks how I've been forgetting to be my own kind of normal, in my fear that I'll never be American enough, or Dominican enough to live in American soil, for that matter... It's hard for me to live so far away from everything i knew, starting over in a place where i stand out like a sore thumb, no matter where i go. Not that it isn't the story of my life- I've never felt that i fit in, not even when i lived in my hometown. It's been a struggle all my life, to try this "normal" costume- for i don't even know what normal looks like... It seems like every time i start getting good at it, it changes to something else.
I remember when i first realized i was far from "normal"- I was in school, probably first grade, and i noticed how kids had a dad that came to look for them to take them home. My dad never did that. He would have caused such a big problem coming in, even if he had wanted to do so, for you see, in my country he is a famous person, and wherever he goes, he's recognized and followed around... I remember hoping for a normal dad, one that i would see more than a few times a month, one that would take me out to have ice cream, without people staring at him.
My mom was, in her own way, famous too- I've never met anyone in my country that didn't at least know her a little bit. And from these two very outgoing people i came, my shy self a stark contrast to their ways. To top it off, people always assumed that if they were my parents, then i must be pretty outgoing, right? so i started trying to fit their idea of how a normal me should be. I did such a good job doing it, that some of my friends will probably be very surprised to know how shy i really am, and how i would push myself to stop it. I did inherit my parents easiness to make friends, and some of their traits are in me, but i still enjoy being by myself, with a book in some quiet place. And it is still hard to talk to strangers. No matter how old i am, the same thought crosses my mind, every time: they won't like me. Not if they'd like me, or how much they'd like me, but a nagging certainty that somehow they won't. And i don't even know why, for 9 out of ten times, people does- but it is still there.
When i lived in the Dominican Republic, this feeling wasn't as bad, because i could find common points of interest with the people i met, common backgrounds, something... But here, it seems like the differences that i was aware of (or my craziness) show even more than usual. I remember one time sitting in a room full of other women, feeling so lonely because not one of them could understand why i don't care if they come to my house without calling. Or if they keep their shoes on when they come over. Or the fact that i endlessly look for ways to make my food taste more "Dominican", whatever that means... I'm always afraid of speaking up, of breaking an unspoken rule, of being me. And i miss me. I miss the woman i became growing up in a tight family circle made up of women, with my half brother and half sisters added sometimes, a me that wasn't afraid to embrace the fact that as hard as i tried, i enjoyed being by myself the most, lost in a book, imagining the life i didn't have through it.
I miss dancing with other people, i miss not being the only dark person in the room, i miss painting and drawing for my own enjoyment, i miss speaking my language with people that answer back. And i miss my friends. That's what i miss the most. Friends. The ones that take time to make, the ones that now live so far away, i never hear from them unless i look at facebook. I miss my mom, and our Saturdays at the mall. I miss Iliana, and all the crazy conversations we've had along these years we've known each other. I miss just watching my grandma smile when her favorite character on TV is doing well, and hearing her talking about the national lottery as if she had some sort of connection there, and she always knows when she's about to win. I miss my aunts and my cousins, and the lazy afternoons just drinking coffee and talking about nothing and all at the same time.
Peter tries to help me feel welcome here, and God knows there's plenty of people that work hard on that as well, and that love me as much as my family in the DR does, but it is still hard. Very hard. I go back to grade school, when i used to wish i was blond and pretty like my mom. Now i want to be more like the people here, so i can blend in and be finally "normal", but at the same time i like my dark features, my jet black hair, my crazy eyebrows, my shape (i seem to be more curvaceous than other people here too, and being this fat just makes it worse).
I wish i could bring other Dominicans here. Maybe i could then be normal among them. Whatever that is.

1 comment:

Kate said...

You never know, Julie... quizaz un dia, Fargo, ND sera una ciudad llena de Dominicanos...o si no...sentiras mas contenta. Acuerdate que no siempre estara tan fuerte como ahora. Somos todos cristianos peregrinos... dios nos ha llamado a una vida diferente, donde nunca somos "normal"... Que dios te llena con su paz y uncion especial. Un gran abrazo para ti mi hermana!