al hogar ancestral
Earlier this year, I traveled to Jalisco, Mexico, the birthplace of my grandmother, and the surrounding towns and cities. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of my ancestry. My Mexican identity is conflicted — colonizing ancestors gave me my height and fair skin; but my family is Mexican in race, culture, and identity. In Southern California where I grew up, the darker Mexican kids never believed I was one of them and the white kids teased me about my Mexican heritage. Visiting Mexico as a child felt familiar, while visiting family in Utah was always a foreign experience. Ostracized by my family in when I was a teenager, I found little solace with my parents and grandparents. My hope was to try to understand what informed them, by viewing where they came from.
When I arrived in Jalisco as an adult, I felt the same sense of familiarity from childhood. This time, however, I found myself immersed in the surroundings as an individual. Now, I wandered freely around Guadalajara, Tequila, Talpa, and a myriad of cities and towns, conversing with shoemakers, butchers, restauranteurs, Voladores (traditional Mesoamerican dancers), fishermen and fish mongers. I learned much about my ancestors. Specifically, how much more I have in common with them than with my immediate family. What was truly impactful though were the communities I visited. Everyone was present and involved in their tasks, their surroundings, and the community. It was obvious I was a visitor, but I felt very much at home. An internal sense of longing for belonging while there made me realize though my family had left this place, it did not mean their new home was my home. The people of my ancestors made me feel welcome and at home for the first time in a very long time.