Growing up in Miami is enough of a cultural experience. Spanish is the main language, and any kid who went to school with you and didn’t speak the language got confusing looks. There’s not an overabundance of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, because there are ventanitas for you to get your cafecito at. You turn on the radio, and it’s a toss up of whether or not you’ll hear the Spanish version of the latest Shakira song or the English one. Of course, the Spanish version of EVERYTHING is usually better.
Despite being half-Cuban, I was, and will always be, viewed as different in Miami, because it is a predominantly Cuban city. Different was sometimes good and sometimes bad, but for the most part I can’t complain. The biggest difference has been, and still is, living outside of Miami. The problem is, I also can’t handle living in Miami anymore. I’m basically stuck between two worlds.
It makes me think of my mom who feels the same way about living in the U.S. vs. living in Honduras. She always tells me:
“Es qué yo no soy de aquí, pero ya tampoco soy de allá.”
I’m not from here, but I’m also not from over there anymore.
When she goes home, she no longer relates to the majority of her family on many things, particularly social issues. She’s considered the “liberal” one. Which is funny, because anyone who knows her HERE knows she’s not liberal…at all. She’s actually just a religious woman who really tries not to judge.
She doesn’t really speak English, but the few words she does use daily slip out when she’s talking to my Honduran grandmother, like “appointment” or “I know.” She doesn’t enjoy the taste of American coffee, she says it’s watered down. She, too, is constantly juggling two worlds.
I grew up in a Spanish-only home watching “Carusel” on Univision and listening to rancheras and boleros. I grew up watching Primer Impacto and Cristina, not the English network evening news or Oprah. When you leave that Miami bubble, and enter the true U.S., you’re kinda left lost in this limbo that no one else, for the most part, really gets. We each have our own culture at home, of course, but besides language, add the mix of growing up in what I call “Democratic Cuba” and it’s a whole other world.
That’s why on days it gets to me more than others, I just call my mom or Miami friends. They ALWAYS get it. Besides, there’s a wonderful reassurance in your mom understanding you, even though you may sometimes have to Google translate some words to better express to her how you feel.
Victoria Moll-Ramirez is a broadcast journalist based in New York City. She is originally from Miami, FL and had the great fortune of being raised by the sassiest, spunkiest, wisest, most hysterical Honduran woman in the world. Victoria’s mother, Bélgica, is 60-years-old, resides in Little Havana (Miami) and enjoys a good margarita accompanied by a heartrending ranchera. Victoria blogs about her mom’s funny and wise sayings on, “In My Mother’s Words.”