Nepal en la frente: Ancestors


Photo by Abril Salinas

I sometimes feel like a double agent. Stuck between two worlds. I feel like I’m constantly changing my skin with the ease of someone changing their shoes. Shifting from American to Mexican in an instant. I change my voice, my tone and myself. The ease with which I am constantly changing to fit in with my surroundings is an exhausting ritual. It carries the disappointment of my ancestors.

When I stumble over my words in Spanish, I am reminded that the American part of me exists. I am reminded that my Spanish is like an itchy phantom limb. The ease with which I speak English is the ease with which I would like to speak Spanish. It is the ease with which my parents and family would like me to speak Spanish.
Spanish was my first language, and while I speak it every day, my tongue still seems to trip over the curves of each word. I speak English openly. I show it off as if it is no big deal. The ease with which I speak English in public is the ease with which I would like to speak Spanish in public. For so long I have been ashamed of my native tongue. Scared that speaking it in public would somehow blow my imaginary cover. I often think about what my ancestors would think of that. I think about how I barely know them, and I feel guilty. Like I have forgotten a part of myself.  

My Spanish isn’t perfect. It’s another thing that makes me feel guilty. I am working on that. Feeling less guilty about the things I can’t control. I could practice Spanish all day and my tongue would still tie itself in knots. I am starting to like it, starting to feel comfort in the clumsiness of my Spanish.