I was in my early twenties, standing with a group of women, one of which was from the West Indies. Everyone discussing where they were from, a lively conversation about coming to and living in Canada. The moment came when one woman looked asked me, “How about you, where are you from?’
And before I could even open my mouth, the West Indian woman, mostly silent during the conversation, immediately says, “Oh, she was born here.”
So many questions screamed to life in my mind.
Why do you say it like that!? And what makes you so sure?
I wanted to pull her aside to let it be known that both my parents were born in Trinidad. So were my two older sisters. My third sister, though born here, was made there! And, by the way, maybe I don’t have many real-life memories from back home, I have lived there vicariously through the rest of my family!
Sigh. Guess she hit a nerve.
I never did say any of those things. The conversation moved on while I stood there with my mind hanging open. The things I wanted to say to defend myself against years of never feeling like I fit in –with any culture—silent. I was just never one thing or another.
Oreo cookie—according to my black friends.
Too Canadianized – according to my parent’s friends.
Black—according to my white friends.
Mixed chick MIX UP — according to me.
Well, childhood trauma turned into teenage angst, and teenage angst turned into young adult realization.
I was a not even a mixed race girl, but a mixed cultural one, with a mixed sense of home, and a mixed sense of mixed identity.
I was mixed up gal living in a mixed up Canadian culture.
Me and my sisters in Prince Edward County at a wine tasting!