When I look in the mirror, and try to force my ERRES, my wannabe tongue, slips, and falls to the ground. This condition, is not a symptom of my “americanized” self, but yet another story. A story of a girl, who could never roll her R’s. A badge of honor, in this country, as it became more proof of how white I truly could be, if allowed.
And, yet, I pull it off. My accent is still there, if not as strong, slipping, losing the fight. My accent pants, heaves, and moans, refusing to admit that it is not as strong as hundreds of years of colonization. It’s resilience is apparent, as it boycotts my most important speeches, my most impressive presentations, and my most passionate moans. It appears when I least expect it, like the thunderstorm you didn’t realize you needed, because you are blind to the drought.
And this is how, one day, I realized that I DO NOT KNOW WHAT SPANISH SOUNDS LIKE ANYMORE, this is how one day, I realized that by plucking, and prepping myself to become part of them, I lost myself. This is how
I realized that the words in my head were no longer those of my mother, but those of strangers. And this is how I’m trying to learn again, trying to reach for the runaway kite that I lost when I was young, this is how I leap, this is how I cry. Because my Spanish hasn’t been lost yet, my accent hasn’t left.
Because I’m still as afraid of the gringos as ever. Because I’m just as Peruvian as then.
Today I am packing. Tomorrow, I teach my first big workshop, in Spanish, tomorrow I stand in a room full of strangers, speaking the words, that I tried to forget at twelve years old, but that I remembered at twenty-five. Tomorrow I fly out, my mother as always proud of the woman that I’ve become, coaches me through this and tells me in her Spanish in our Spanish.
That, this is our tongue. This is our first hellos, this is our last goodbyes. She reminds me of I love yous, te quieros, y todo lo demas.
Today I am nervous, because strangers will hear my broken Spanish, but will they hear my story?
Yo. No. Se.
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