A beautiful piece on Black Girl Dangerous on the complexities of belonging… At Sea: Growing Up, Seeking Home. Here’s just a snippet. It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing.
When I returned to the clean boulevards of California, I carried other places in the little things: homemade lunches my classmates prodded at—Japanese onigiri, Filipino pancit. The seiza in my body; the doubt on my tongue. But soon, I begged for Lunchables, traded my strips of seaweed for brightly colored Gushers. When I moved to New York, the kids made faces at my “fishy green stuff”; my seaweed lost its currency, so I ate fewer Gushers and unlearned the taste of the sea.
Sometimes, the little things were too little to point to—too aqueous, perhaps, too vague. It was not until 6th grade when I learned that no American referred to summertime relief as “air-con” or that referring to your footwear as “flip-flops” was the only way to be understood when you meant slippers. I thought I spoke with my family in English, but it was not the language of my classmates. As I grew older, I had snacks, not merienda; I wore tanks, not spaghetti straps; I exchanged gifts, not pasalubongs. When, during the summer after 7th grade, I asked a friend to turn down the “AC,” I felt something tiny in me finally die.