Thursday, August 30, 2007


I worked a wedding reception just down the hill from my house today, expecting it to be for a nice little Mormon couple, complete with the classic mom with boofy hair, overly-jolly father-in-law, and 10 little brothers running wildly between guests or grazing at the buffet table in hopes of snagging a date with their new in-laws. To my surprise it was a Hispanic couple from Mexico, and I was enchanted by their language and culture.

I've never wanted to know Spanish so bad. Between the wedding reception and picking up rental chairs from a company whose labor force consists of solely Spanish-speakers, I was at a disadvantage language wise most of the day. A majority of the patrons at the reception had very good English and if they didn't, the person next to them did. But it was frustrating to not be able to communicate completely. Spanish really is quite a beautiful language when you stop and listen to the sounds. It's a fluid motion. The words don't seem to have spaces or ebbs, just a constant flow of rolling and sliding sounds turning over and over in their mouths. I think it probably tastes good to speak.

My only experiences with Spanish otherwise have consisted of getting hit up for business in the flee markets of Mexico, listening to loud, obnoxious high schoolers, or flipping through the channels and hearing snippets of a heated conversation in some foreign soap opera. Needless to say, these abbreviated encounters didn't make much of a positive impression on me. Now I know better.

Not only did their language sweep me away, but their culture and their traditions made me wish that I had some sort of traditional customs in my family. Why is it that all the "Scandinavians" or the "Eastern or Western Europeans" some how lost their culture and diversity when they came to the states? It's like the oceans that divide the U.S. from the rest of the world some how wash away traditions and leave everyone in a barren, cultural vacuum. I wonder what traditions my French or Welsh ancestors had. Did they do something special on their wedding day like this mysitcal, newly-wed couple? Did they have dances that everyone knew so they could all move and sway in unity, like some sort of celebration and reaffirmation that yes, they do belong to a beautifully distinct and different heritage?

I wish I could dance like the people I descend from. I wish my ancestor's heritage and ways of life could have been preserved and infused into my own life. Is it possible, that it is? Could it be that I am a living testimony of my heritage, but it is so normal and mundane to me now that I don't even realize or appreciate it?

Who am I?

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