Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Identity

Here are the go-to details about my background: I was born and raised in Camden County, NJ, but as a sophomore in high school I moved with my mom and a few siblings to Bucks County, PA. My mother is a waitress and has remarried twice in my lifetime; she left my dad when I was 3. My father, who works for a law firm, is a Cuban refugee and a Vietnam war veteran. My siblings: Michael is 28 and an electrician who wants to completely cover his body in tattoos by 2010; Gabrielle, 26, whose heart is as big as Texas, lives in Baltimore and teaches art in a middle school there; Justin, 21, a TKE brother who just transferred from Drexel to Temple, has changed his major from Engineering to Biology to Psychology to Sports Medicine; Laura, 13, is a mathematical genius who lives with our mom but likes her dad and our old home in NJ better; Charles, 11, has autism and still doesn't talk to or associate with us much, even though he's been going to a good school for children with autism since he was about 4.

In class Sept. 15, when everyone saw my teany bottle, the words volunteered to describe me were pretty accurate. I got health-conscious, into organic foods, different, trend-setter, always thirsty, vegetarian, likes going to the gym. I also have never been vaccinated, and I'm a proponent of alternative medicine, alternative lifestyles, breaking the mold, and ultimately just thinking outside the box.

I am a Cuban German Polish Chinese African American with a French first name, a Spanish last name, and a tendency toward English language and literature. I am fascinated with Eastern culture, religion and art, and I want to travel to every country in South America and play soccer with the locals. And my all-time favorite book is by the brilliant Russian Fyodor Dostoevsky.

As you may be able to tell, I am very global-minded. My biggest goal in life is to travel, and I have already been to and fallen in love with many places (San Juan, Miami, Charleston, London, and the mountains of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho); but I worry all the time about where in the world I’d be the most happy. I can list the places I know I want to visit—but where could I settle down and finally feel at peace? Should I follow my heart, which longs to help people in Sudan, the Philippines, or Ecuador, where I already sponsor a little girl living in the slums of Quito? Should I satisfy my soul, which yearns to go to India or China to learn the arts of yoga, meditation, divinity and spirituality? Should I listen to my mind, which thirsts for the great thinkers and writers of Great Britain, France, Spain or Russia? And what of my taste for the exotic?—I could seek treasures in Turkey, Morocco, Egypt or Nepal, even though I wouldn’t understand a word of their native tongues. What about my historical and mythological cravings, which would be sated in Greece, Italy, or what was once ancient Mesopotamia or Persia? Then there’s my blood to think of—I could trace my ancestry from Cuba to Spain and Ellis Island to Poland and Germany. Finally, I could stay here, the country that will always be my home, known for welcoming immigrants of all sorts, from all the countries I just listed and all the corners of the Earth? I have so much to offer here, so much work that could be done to improve our communities and educational systems, and develop the youth of the generations yet to come…

Ultimately, this is what I know will never change about me: I have a nagging curiosity that I doubt I'll ever be able to satiate. I love experiencing new things and learning more about people and the earth and the universe. I constantly look to the future, and I have a terrible memory. I'm an Aquarius, with a ton of Capricorn (six Planets) mixed up in there to ground me, a pinch of Aries (Rising), and a touch of Gemini (Moon). I love my friends more than they know. I feel at home in any old book store, in any campground in the mountains, any deserted beach, under soft blankets, deep in the woods, with animals, in/on the ocean, jumping and playing in the rain, and surrounded by deep thinkers.

Oh, and on a side note: as a huge fan of Heroes and great poetry, after Monday night's new season premiere of Heroes, I can't get over how perfect this poem is. I've always loved Yeats and this poem, and I was just blown away by how perfectly it applies to the direction the show is taking:

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?