It’s me, Emily Diaz, back again with another story! Below is a creative piece I have written called, “My Street – Young, where do you live?”, which depicts my childhood struggle to identify my home. I was constantly asking myself the question: Do I belong in the Dominican Republic or in New York? Join me in my journey to find the answer.
Motocicletas zoom up and down the streets as I travel down the block to my cousin’s home. Anthony Santos’ finest record is flowing through the streets from the Volvos parked along the block, and my neighborhood is filled with sabrosura. I am greeted by the staccato bangs of my great grandmother’s dominos slamming onto the playing table as she schools my cousin’s at a game she has known all her life. I hear la chismosura among the elderly women who are watching the game and can’t help but fall into the hot gossip of this fine day. They ask me,“Joven, donde vives?// Young girl, where do you live?” and I long to make different conversation instead because I do not yet know how to answer that question.
Walking along the jagged pathways of my home in the Dominican Republic and internalizing my environment reminded me of the sounds. The sounds of my country. The sounds of my family. The sounds of me. Muted for too long by New York’s hectic clamor, for my sophomore year summer I traded up listening to my apple music on the 7 train for the nonchalant ambiance of my Caribbean island. I had not left America for a little over 2 years before that, and I am ashamed to admit I actually had not reminisced or thought about the DR in all that time. Though it sounds odd to feel guilty for not missing something, in Latin culture, being away from your parent’s country and living in the United States instead, comes with a communal understanding that there is no place like the country in which your parents grew up. If you were to ask a Hispanic kid what home feels like, many would answer with no hesitation and proceed to describe to you their parent’s home country. That is because many teens from Latin families wear their Hispanic pride on their sleeve by being vocal about their desire to go back and visit their parent’s homes. Whether in everyday conversation, during the independence day celebrations for Latin countries, through music and sports, or even on social media, Hispanic teens talk about their Hispanic pride. It is beautiful and inspiring, to say the least. Yet, I personally could not find myself fitting into that mold growing up and honestly that idea of not fitting in is pretty terrifying. When the women from my neighborhood would make conversation with me and ask where I lived I realized I never knew if I should answer New York or my home in the Dominican Republic. It had become so easy for me to neglect my roots that I realized I had started to see myself as more of a New Yorker than a Dominican. Almost instantly though, my travels back to the Dominican Republic allowed me to fall back in love with my country. The beauty of it all was that it wasn’t intentional or planned either. With one inhale of that fresh, Caribbean air and one listen into the streets of my city, I was never more content with where I was spending my summer.
So when I now ask myself joven, where is home? Today, I actually know the answer.
Definitions of the italiczed words:
- popular Dominican artist
- sharing of gossip