Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"I am a turtle, wherever I go, I carry 'home' on my back"

“I am the embodiment of the hieros gamos: the coming together of opposite qualities within.”(41) Anzaldua recognizes the duality of her identity as a result of living on Texas-U.S. Southwest/Mexican Border, a “place of contradictions”. She chronicles the individual histories of both places, and their relationship to one another, as well as to herself. I believe you are inherently affected, whether consciously or not, by the place you live and the culture that thrives there. Considering that Anzaldua’s home straddles the “border”, or more accurately separation, of two very different places, it is no wonder that she has melded traits from both places into her identity. When I came to Loyola and lived alone for the first time in my life, I realized the duality of my own identity.
My Mom grew up in Huntington, West Virginia—an extremely small town located just outside of Kentucky on the Southwestern border of the state. In Huntington, everything was familiar—the faces, the places, and of course the gossip. Everyone attended St. Joe’s Church for Sunday services, and gathered for weekly pot-locks at eachothers’ homes. The metronome of life was set at a slow tick, always allowing time for a lemonade on the porch or a chat with a neighbor. Now my Dad, on the other hand, grew up in a bustling suburb of North Jersey. The town, Roselle, was one of a multitude of stops on the rail line that brought eager young workers into and out of the Big Apple morning, noon and night. The town, including the people in it, was on New York City time; everything was accomplished at the drop of a hat, leaving little time for anything like small-town familiarity.
I had never considered how a combination of two very different locations that my parents had been born and raised, and the subsequent ways that the respective places shaped their individual characters and habits could have such an effect on me. While I don’t drawl my “i’s” like a West-Virginian, and am not habitually punctual like a “North Jers-ian”, I began to notice a unique mixture of interesting tendencies (To be honest, it was my roommates who pointed out my anomalies). Like a my Dad, the Northerner, I must completely finish every task I begin; on the contrary, like my mom, the Southerner I have no problem with taking my time in doing so, and am perfectly calm as the deadline draws near. It’s like I have adopted the behavior of a Southerner, but with the true reasoning and end purpose of a stereo-typical Northerner.
Anzaldua is reconciled with the effects that both places have had on herself spiritually, socially, even perhaps physically. The “switching of codes” is a perfect example of her marriage of the two cultures. She uses Spanish words, phrases and poems as a device to communicate a different meaning than simply using the English word could infer. The mixture of the dialects demonstrates how she physically straddled to divided lands, and as a Chicano, a person of the borderlands, has learned to identify with both. Just as Soad said in her blog, as an English major I have always taken French and don’t understand any Spanish—but the placement of the words communicates a feel of what Anzaldua means, and creates a beautiful mixed narrative.

No comments: