I look in the mirror and I see new lines near my eyes and I see my cousins and my mom and my grandfather.
Since I was small, strangers have been compelled to ask me, "What are you?" They're not questioning my gender or what I do for a living. I know what they're asking. They want to know where my people are from. They want to know why I look like this, a little bit other, like I'm from somewhere else.
They try to guess. Are you part Japanese? Chinese? Korean? I thought you were half Thai or maybe Icelandic? They will speak Italian to me or French. The guesses are never right. How could they be? The answer is complicated.
My people are Spaniards and Basques that landed in New Mexico. They are dirt floors and sopapillas and riding a mule to school. They are Texans and Swedes and Irishmen. They are a tintype family photo in their best outfits and kids with no shoes. They are farmers and potters and bootleggers and plumbers. They are Virginians and Brits and politicians. They are on ships and on horseback and riding in beds of pick-up trucks. The are Okies and oil fields and cooks and bridge builders. They are Mescalero Apaches and grandparents and orphans and wash on the line.
They are out loud and they are secrets and they are all mine.
I answer, "Irish on one side, Indian on the other." That satisfies their curiosity. Some will even say, "I thought so." But I know they didn't.
Today I have linked up to my friend Heather's site at Just Write.