The other day, I slept over at the house I lived in as child. The next morning, my uncle called me to ask if I would like to accompany him on a few errands. Coincidently, or not, he needed to take care of some business in the same neighborhood that I was in that morning (side note: he lives like an hour away from where I was). It’s as if life wanted to show me something that very day and made sure I was at the right place at the right time. My uncle needed to resolve a few things at the first house I lived in as a baby and the house where my dad spent his late teens.
We went into the first house, which belongs to my paternal grandmother. My uncle showed me the spot in this tiny living room space where a mattress once laid. Here my mother, my father, my older brother and I use to sleep. In a matter of seconds, my entire life flashed right before my eyes and I couldn’t help but wonder what if. What if I had continued to live there? What if speaking English and being an American were never a part of me? What if I all those people who have shaped me didn’t exist [for me]? These questions become more evident when I see that most of the people who lived there when I was born are still there.
These folks are in no way, shape or form less of a person because of where or how they live, but the truth is that regardless of all the shortcomings and all of the struggles that I endured as a child and as a teenager in low income America, it doesn’t compare to the kind of living here. I completely understand that there is third worlding in America, but the amount of resources and opportunities again, does not compare.
I go back to this neighborhood often and I am still figuring out how I fit there. Please believe me when I say that this is a very sensitive topic/experience for me. Every single part of it entails struggling with my identity and setting negotiations between who I have become, who I want be, who I should be, and a combination of the three. Nonetheless, I am so grateful for this struggle.