I am from …
By Anyiné Galván Rodríguez
I am from ocean breezes warm to the soul
From salsa caliente with sazón.
I’m from “pelo malo”, big hips, and big lips.
I’m from family reunions in which
the main dish consists of pork chops, plantains,
rice, and beans.
I am from a mixture of African rhythms,
and indigenous beats.
I am from islands that dance
with each other through their similarities.
I am from abuelitos wearing guayaberas
and grandmas walking around with old chancletas.
I am from a place full of melancholic
daydreams of a white sand beach.
I am from a revolving door between
the Caribbean and the windy city.
I am from
I am from where by five you know how to master Dominó.
I am from flags that consist of white blue and red,
yet they have so many different tones and shades.
I am from where amor de familia is number one.
I am from this collage composed of pictures of
La CTA, Humboldt park, and downtown.
I am from here, there, everywhere.
“Ni de aquí ni de allá”
I am from ocean breezes warm to the soul
From salsa caliente with sazón
I am from so many places
that at times I feel I’m from nowhere.
But what I’m sure of is that I AM
y el Negro.
¡Yo soy yo!
I AM my friends
“Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres” was one of my mother’s favorite phrases when I was growing up. In English, it means you are the company you keep. I never paid much mind but somehow it managed to resonate in my subconscious. I have a handful of friends that I hold dear to my heart. Friends that genuinely love me regardless of my imperfections and I know would come to my aid at the drop of a dime. I have great friendship with each every one of them and they fill my heart in their own unique way. I admire each of them for their distinctive qualities and how they all have helped me become a better person.
But as I look at all my friends, they (or should I say “we”) are alike in many ways. We came from humble beginnings and managed to overcome many obstacles. Most of us are children of parents who struggled with the English language yet taught us the value of hard work so that we can have a better life and live the American dream. We are youth that managed to overcome the challenges of being a student in a faulty urban public school system. We followed our own lead and were not dragged by peer pressure to take the wrong route. We were young adults that maximized any resource available to reach higher learning. Even if that meant pestering a teacher to help us with a college application, filling out the FASA or write us a letter of recommendation… we were DETERMINED to go to college. We never took no for an answer and were going to “Echar pa’ lante” – succeed. We were first generation college students discovering the world of academia which helped us learn more about our history, the world and ultimately …ourselves. And although the public system did not prepare us for what college had in store for us, our parent’s lessons of hard work paid off. We made it out of college and hit the ground running.
We have shared priceless memories together from youth into adulthood. We may not talk every day or see each other often due to long distance, hectic schedules, or just having to juggle different roles at once. But our friendship is so strong that after not hanging out in months or years, when we see each other it’s as if life didn’t happen in between and we are back to sharing beautiful memories, reminiscing, celebrating our accomplishments and excited for what the future holds in store for us.
We are community leaders, musicians, social activists, doctors, educators and have never forgotten were we come from. Today, we are adults that serve as role models for other urban youth by exemplifying that when there’s a will, there is a way…“! Si se puede!”
My friends are non-judgmental but will provide positive criticism. They don’t thrive on drama but will stand for justice. They are kind but not naïve. They are self –reflective and spiritual. They are dreamers but always have a plan of action to reach a goal. They believe that everyone has good in them but they’re also wise to know when it’s time let go of bad company.
So thinking back to my mother’s phrase, “Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres” I look at my friends and I’m proud to say… I AM my friends. They are a reflection of me and through the experiences we’ve shared together they have become part of who I am today.
I’m thankful I chose my true friends wisely.
Words from the heart,