As an American woman, I fall under the Heinz57 variety, which I commonly describe as the watered down version of the cultures of the world. According to my mother, and her mother, I’m Scottish and English. Yes, I owe my good taste in indie music to my English heritage. I’ve even gone so far as to say I’m from Manchester, where all my generation’s greats come from…Joy Division/New Order, The Doves, and The Chemical Brothers. I’m also Dutch with a handsome pair of wooden shoes and a garden of tulip bulbs.
My dad and his parents add my French-Canadian charm, from which I’ve learned how to make a mean Poutine, which is a hit at Stanley Cup playoff game parties. Yup, that’s French fries topped with cheese, covered with brown gravy. Yum! A weeknight dinner includes Poutine with a healthy side of pierogies, which satisfies my Polish side, along with my beauty and yes, my gullibility.
It’s no wonder that my struggle for identity and “self” has been such a long, windy road. I pity the journey my son Che will now endure adding Blackfoot Lakota and Mexican, from his father, to his impressive resume.
How easy to be a pure bred something and live, dress, eat, worship, and work according to that culture’s dogma. Your search for self stops in the history books and family tree to help you figure out who you are and where you come from. I used to long for the story to tell during elementary school’s genealogy lesson that my grandparents were the son and daughter of their own town in Europe, but traveled by sea to America in search of gold and a romantic happily ever after. The truth is that during that lesson, my parents didn’t share a fantastic vignette of family history. Instead, they simply told me that I was a Heinz57 variety. When I asked how Grandma and Grandpa arrived in America, they said they were just here, with no knowledge of how or why. Other kids in class had brilliant, adventure-full stories of their ancestors and how they keep them alive through traditions and holiday festivities. Indians from the east and west, North and South Americas, Chinese, Spanish, English, Irish, Italian and French, but let’s be honest, I was raised in a tiny town in Fairfield County, Connecticut where the majority of students were of the European – white variety.
Everyday since then, I have been trying to define my “I”, “me”, and my “self” and I fantasize about how it would be easier to identify with one heritage. But of course, the beauty of all this is how that doesn’t even matter. It’s the unique sense of style, taste, rhythm, quirks, visions, dreams, and most importantly experience that truly define who we are. Now I’m not going to imagine that any of my stories are more interesting than others or interesting at all for that matter. This is simply an attempt at a therapeutic release, which welcomes commentary.
Elements of my story may seem similar to yours …the mommies of America who learn to balance the continuation of self alongside the nurturing of an other. We must maintain the instinctual role of matriarch, work full-time, and be different and fabulous all at the same time. Maybe they will inspire you to blaze a new path, conquer something frightening, or hear your inner truth and act on it willfully so that you may continue growth in your journey. I welcome you to mine in an effort to fortify our womanhood through a medium that we know best, for it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.