I did not choose to grow here.
I see myself as a displaced flower, uprooted before she was planted, a seed placed miles and miles away. I am, let’s say, a lotus flower. From a country far away. One day, I sprouted. Maybe under the sunny bright skies of California. Somewhere Western. And all I knew were the soil and skies and trees of a Western world.
And there were Western songs. And Western values. And Western foods that made people balloon and swell and topple over from heart disease. There were color coded hierarchies. And color embracing schools. There were plastered banners of ideals, never obtained, of bars that will never be reached. And there was money. Lots of money. Unevenly divided, but money, still. Oh, and shit-talking. Lots and lots of shit-talking. Because shit-talking was her prized possession baby.
She was theoretically free. She was chained by things that half of her would screech about.
This is Western air I breath. And Western words I write. My mind scrambles to translate to my mother tongue. I feel irritated when quizzed, scrutinized, over my minute vocabulary. I comprehend the way I read–vertically, in chunks, taking in the entire scene.
I did not choose to grow here. But I do so, begrudgingly, albeit mostly contentedly, because with physical comfort comes mental comfort. There is food to eat. And water to drink. And clean carpeted homes. And space, and clear blue skies.
But it is a hollow step-mother, a cutout adopted family, and this is Cinderella, couched in her stepmother’s magnificent home. It is lacking in significant ways. In this tiled gated home, ripe with waste and excess, I have no desire to engorge myself in deep fried meats. I have no desire to shoot a rifle. I have no desire to make silly clownish political statements, or yell, or scream. Where is everybody else? Where is the real food? Where is the real music? The real dancing? The culture, the culture?
And when I return to this home, a home I had never been, I feel the deepest, most explicable sense of home. How do you return home when you’ve never been? This, I realize, is biological. It’s deeper than simply sprouting where you are planted. It goes back seasons, centuries, for an environment to be just right for that particular plant–but I was uprooted, like so many others.
And I never assume that I am like them. Plants in the new environment, I mean. I can feign it–I speak it, and I most likely seem it, but it’s a facade. You can take an alligator out of a swamp, raise it in the desert, but it will always have been from a swamp, no matter what you tell it. You can brainwash it. You can tell her to participate in rituals of the patriotic. You can make her place her hand on this part of her chest, memorize poems about fabric, worship strangers of the dead. But it is all surface level, environmental. External. As internal as socialization can be.
No matter what anyone tells me, no matters what is shushed or socially right, nobody can convince me otherwise. She is a queen, a sleeping dragon. And I am convinced of it. I hope she breaths and flies and wakes soon. I have been planted alongside the fat rich happy little Western boar, who snores and powerfully kicks up mud when angered. There is not much that I can do. Because I did not choose to grow here.