I see you. I know you and I look different from one another. I know we have different hair and different skin. I know we sometimes listen to different music. I know we are from different parts of town…and sometimes we are even from different parts of the world. I know we have different struggles and different ways of handling pain. I know we sometimes wear different clothes and we even cook differently. I know that we are different.
Can I tell you something? To me…You have a beauty that I cannot put into words. I love you…yep…even if I don’t know you! I love your hair and your skin…because it is part of you. I love that I learn something new in every song you share with me. I love visiting your neighborhood and learning from your strength. I love your style and I love your food because it is part of you. I love that we are different.
Here I am a white…female adventurer…a mother of 4 girls but I have only given birth twice…this means I am a “step” mom, okay sometimes I like to think of myself as a bonus so I will stick with Bonus Mom! I am the wife of an amazing bluegrass musician/music teacher!
I have straight brown hair and brown eyes. I wish my hair had beautiful curls and I also wish it didn’t tangle so much. My eyes have a hint of green but not near as much green as I wish they had. I like music that feeds my soul and encourages me to love deeply. I have an album on iTunes called Save Me Grace and my husband has one called Crossing Boundaries! Check it out if you want. I am a lower-middle-class person (depending on the year). I grew up in poverty and now I live in a part of town that some consider privileged…at least that is what I keep hearing about it…I just see all different types of people…some white, some Latin, some black, some Asian, some desire bigger homes, some desire bigger families, some desire bigger careers, etc. and some desire all of the above and you know what…some people desire none of the above.
You want to know a secret…when I am struggling emotionally…I see a counselor. I also pray, write (remember my album that I just told you about… I wrote those songs out of the pain of my life events like abuse, suicide, loneliness, and apathy). I also cope with life by listening to music with no words at all (instrumentals), riding a bicycle and talking to friends. Okay sometimes I scream in a pillow, so what. I love baggy t-shirts and jeans because often times I do not like the way I look or feel in anything else (comfort is sometimes key…this fact alone makes me question my womanhood at times). I know nothing of the name brand anything unless it is a camera. I never cook the same thing twice because I make up recipes as I go depending on what we have in the pantry…for example the other day I made “naked enchiladas” because we didn’t have sauce! Most of the time I get my hair cut at the School of Cosmetology because it is the only option I can afford and guess what…I am okay with that…I have met so many beautiful people there like these two beauties…yes she is hugging my daughter…no we did not know her prior to that day:
Want to know something else about me? If not you can stop reading…if so…read on…I was emancipated at 16. As a child, I was afraid of the police because some of the people raising me were afraid of them (meth users, alcoholics, drug distributors & abusers). I remember officers being called “popo’s and pigs”. I now have friends who are officers and my heart aches as the fact that I was ever afraid of them (they are human-like me). I also feel frustrated that it is so easy to make all suffer for the sins of some. Once I had a black boyfriend in school (this was not okay with all of the biological family members). I know what sweet rice, spam, the salvation army, section 8, TANF, and food stamps are and have been thankful for those resources in my life thanks to surviving my childhood. I have also walked with shame because of needing those resources in the first place…like I somehow had control and should have changed my socioeconomic status. I have been in foster care and had caseworkers. I have been a caseworker. I have been homeless and poor…for example…I have lived in a car more than once. With a very grateful heart, I have accepted handouts and have learned the value of asking for help when I need it…see, I am still asking for help and I am still working hard every day to help earn a living for our family and be a good mom (the good mom thing is my deep desire). I am sometimes too stubborn to ask for help even when I know I need it. I am afraid of lightning…like irrationally afraid…no kidding…when I see it I feel like I am going to have a heart attack…can you say crazy? I also feel the same fear when I look up at the stars at night…it’s just too big. I sunburn too easily. I now have a Masters Degree and have no idea where to make this HUGE paragraph a new paragraph (to be fair, my degree isn’t in English). I overuse commas and use dots when I do not know what punctuation mark to use… (I should probably ask for help). I have been writing a book but am too afraid to let anyone read it because of the things just mentioned (help?).
Here is a cultural thing I have learned over the past several years and I truly love it…I own a Photo-booth business and have celebrated many quinceanera events and have always been fascinated with how my Latin friends celebrate their young girls so extravagantly as they “enter woman-hood” it is seriously a beautiful experience to see so many family members and friends work together to sponsor this celebration of life! I have friends from America, China, Pakistan, Israel, Africa, Malaysia, Germany, France, Brazil, Nepal, Mexico, Panama, Belarus, and Japan to name a few. All of these people (whom I have met face to face) are amazing to me. I have shared meals with them, talked with them over coffee, played board games with them, shared a house with some of them, gone to school with others. I have met others at random life events like a doctor’s appointment or a grocery trip and sparked a conversation with them! Each one of them has taught me something different about their culture and their life. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is for me to see our differences and celebrate life. I LOVE LEARNING NEW THINGS about PEOPLE!
I have traveled to Israel, Mexico, New York (very cultural experience), New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas (also a cultural experience), and Tennessee! I desire to go to Africa, Ireland, France, China, Japan, New Zealand, India and Brazil. I would really love to wear something from India, the Middle East, and Africa…simply because I have some great friends who have shown me the beauty in their colorful garments. My favorite food is Steak and Potato…so that is pretty much Texan I guess. Oh and I love salad with a german vinegar thanks to Mrs. Ellen Pressley! I also love Hummus and Pita bread! I love authentic Asian food…wait…is orange chicken a real thing or is that something we do in the US or Texas? I like it either way! I love Chinese food made by my friend Molly! I love Turnips! I love salsa on anything. I love Italian Cream Soda. What else should I love or try to love! I am not afraid to try new things so…tell me something new to try!
SO…I simply wanted to write and tell you a little about myself and I wanted to ask you to tell me a little about yourself? I do understand that some of the things I listed about myself and my life are not a “cultural” experience…but…my thought is, maybe someone can connect because of our common stories, likes, or dislikes. I want to know you & the people you call family. What makes you unique? What do you love most about your culture? Why do you believe what you believe about life? This may be an idealistic stretch but I do want “world peace”. Not the kind of peace where “if only everyone believed what I believe, life would be peaceful”…but the kind where love is present and people understand that different is not ALL bad.
Share with me…Is there a drink you would like me to try, a dish, do you have fears you want to share, or a song you would love for me to hear, a poem that you wrote, a picture, a favorite childhood memory, a word that you want me to learn from your language? Teach me…I am ready to go on an adventure with you all and I am ready to learn! I want to see the beauty in our diversity!
Please take the time to share with someone who has taught you something beautiful about their culture or their life!