2013 - Ongoing
If I remember correctly, I was about ten years old when I proudly announced to my friends that I was Mexican. This wasn’t a white lie I hoped no one would catch; my young sunburnt self with my head of stark white hair genuinely believed I had some Mexican blood. There was some logic behind my nonsense. My paternal grandparents had lived in Mexico City for a few years, long before I was born, and we had a number of Mexican artisan pieces in our home from their time there. During the holiday season I sometimes helped our neighbors make tamales, and as a baby my first taste of solid food had been a tortilla. Mexican, right?
Now, over 15 years later, I have been making a life in Mexico for almost three years, have been in love with a Mexican for two of those years, and I now know better than ever that I am not Mexican. But, neither am I strictly North-American.
Being a woman in either of these cultures, or in some soft-focus fusion of them both, one is met with specific societal expectations of who we should be. I find myself wanting to be contrary to these feminine ideals, coming from both sides of the border, but at the same time wanting to play that perfect woman.
Walking past a café window a few weeks ago I was quite affected by an everyday scene that would have gone unnoticed by any other pair of eyes. A middle-aged, presumably married, couple sat in silence, a cup of coffee in front of each of them. The man stared off into the distance while the woman quietly stirred sugar into his cup. My immediate reaction was that a grown man should be able to sweeten his own damn coffee. Then, just as quickly, my frustration moved from the man to myself as I reminded myself that the scene was much less likely a show of extreme machismo, but rather a simple act of care and tenderness that the woman naturally showed her partner.
As I become conscious of the two cultures in which I live, their similarities and their differences, I am more mindful of my ability to pick and choose the elements of each which I would like to embrace in the construction of who I am, the construction of my own ideal woman. Making this work has been a way for me to gain better understanding of who exactly this “ideal woman” is and to accept the contradictions, cultural or otherwise, which lie within her.