“Where are you from?”
The hardest question for me to answer. I cringe when I hear those words, I start stuttering over noises that seem to be coming out of my mouth and I start running through all the of places that I have lived the past 19 years of my life (13 to be exact). Ever since I have moved to Paris, I seem to be hearing that phrase more often.
The hardest part is saying what country I am from. Yes, I grew up in the states but I have a lot of Spanish tendencies and my mother did a wonderful job in making sure that my sister and I are equally Spaniards as we are Americans. I even went to school in Spain when I was little, wearing my little pink button up shirt that all the girls had to wear to school (the boys wore blue and yes, quite sexist).
I have noticed that people who know me and hang out with me give me weird glances when I tell one person I am from Portland, OR to another person saying I am from Torrejon de Ardoz, Madrid.
I met a group of Spaniards this weekend, and it was a blast. They were really happy to find someone from Spain but when I mentioned I was half American, they were not surprised. “I can kind of tell,” said one of them. A few seconds later, one of my American au pair friends told me that I act exactly like them when I go out, loud, excited, dancing and love to laugh and joke around.
One of the Spaniards asked me what it was like to have grown up in both cultures.
“Confusing,” was all I could reply.
Not only can I not say I am from one place, I cannot say I am from one country. I came to France on my Spanish citizenship and America won’t notice my double citizenship, to them I am just an American. Both sides of my family view me as the other nationality.
Have I loved growing up in both cultures? That is one of the things I hold most proudly about myself. I know two languages fluently with no accent and can read and write in both. I have been open to more cultures, ideas and doors have opened due to my nationalities. It is one of the things I would never, ever trade in for anything else in the world.
I cannot lie though, it is confusing and sometimes I wish I could easily answer where I am from, where I grew up.
I am a melting pot though, and that is my specialty.