I was born in Puerto Rico; Ponce, Puerto Rico to be exact. I moved to Miami Beach, Florida when I was old enough to understand that I knew no English but before the Beach was chic. Those were the days when Lincoln mall was a ghost town, the ocean wasn’t too far from the coral wall on Ocean Drive and holocaust survivors littered the patios of the hotels on Collins Avenue.
The problem with ordering my birth certificates was that when I came to America, somehow my name was changed. Something to do with my two surnames on my original birth certificate and my one surname on my social security card when my mother applied for one. Strange. Paperwork that is. Then came the freeze from the Puerto Rican government on issuing birth certificates due to forgery.
Nothing like bureaucracy to drive you insane.
So as I stared at my new birth certificates, I couldn’t help but wonder how much trouble I was going to have gaining a passport. By default, I am an American citizen since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of America. But the birth certificates are in Spanish.
It is sometimes hard being an immigrant in this country. One’s culture pulls you one-way while the other tugs you another. There are countless immigrants out there, with no true sense of identity. I feel, at times, as if I have no home. Puerto Rico is where I was born. Miami Beach is where I grew up. Louisiana is where I happen to be at the present time. But home … no, I have no home.
I speak Spanish and English fluidly. I am comfortable in both, I enjoy music, literature, movies, in both languages but sometimes, certain emotions can only be expressed in my native language. In recent years, I have seen an emerging trend of what I term Spanglish culture. Artist such as J Lo, Pit Bull, Don Omar and Tego Calderon are giving a voice to the first generation of Latinos, celebrating our struggles and telling us it is no longer necessary to choose one culture over the other.
I am leaving you with the following video, a favorite ballad of mine by Don Omar and Tego Calderon. The song was featured in the movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Tego Calderon happens to be another Puerto Rican immigrant who attended the same high school I did, Miami Beach Senior High. It is in Spanish, but some helpful soul out there did a great job translating the lyrics. Slang and all.