The Pull of the Homeland

Alexandra Hidalgo

I have lived in the States longer than in my country of origin. I came here as a teenager, young enough to be shaped by what I was experiencing here at a very formative level. And yet, it is my homeland that defines me more than the States. There’s something about those childhood years, the smells, the tastes, the friends I still cling to through Facebook and Skype, the ways in which the language got entangled in my brain. Even though I think in English all day long and remember my dreams in English, my husband tells me that when I talk in my sleep the words slip out in Spanish. My mind, perhaps tired of its daytime love affair with a foreign language, spends the nights in the arms of the first sounds that I ever turned into words and sentences.

As American as I often feel, I will always be a foreigner as well. It’s a double life that I’m happy to live, one foot here and another far away, a blend of two cultures where the first one, even though it is the most distant, is forever sneaking back and defining who I am, often without me even noticing that that’s the case. It’s a complexity that makes my life exciting, complicated, and beautiful and that I hope makes those around me see things in new ways from time to time.