Where Are You From? Ancestry & Stories

Sometimes people ask me where I’m from or What I am.

I’m guessing because of my darker skin color and some of my unique features, they’re waiting for me to name some exotic place.
They are not expecting for me to say, “I was born and raised in San Jose, California”… not San Jose in Mexico or Costa Rica.

My grandpa was the only immigrant and he was from Puerto Rico.
My other 3 grandparents were born in California. 

One set was married in the main church in downtown San Jose. They live in Gilroy, CA where they ironically honeymooned after their wedding. 

The other set were born in San Bernardino, CA. Their parents were from Mexico or perhaps California when it was still Mexico!

I’ve learned that Mexican can be a blend of native blood with Spanish, French or Italian. What I’m more curious about is when people refer to their roots being Native American which can span all the way down into the Southern Americas.

Is it the timeline of when people were from where and what the name of the land was at the time of birth or residence? So what am I? 

I recently learned that my grandma’s father was a rancher on the border near New Mexico before the border was so tightly referred to.

I had learned a few years ago that one of my mother’s cousins had researched their bloodline and found middle eastern lineage.

My last name is Italian despite my grandpa being from Puerto Rico.

My mom’s dad was born from a woman who had a blend of French and native though she spoke no English that I could recall. He was sent off to Iwojima as a young 19 year old, experienced and witnessed so much trauma he returned never the same and unable to cope with having a family. What did that make him?

My other grandma’s father is of Basque lineage though he was from Oaxaca. His family had a crest and can be found by name on Google. It is believed he took a native wife who would have been Zapoteca.

Sure I could take a spit test and find out what percentage of what heritage I am and of what culture I carry. However, the stories are missing.

How did I get here? I know it wasn’t easy. For any of my ancestors. What was the end goal? Priorities? What sacrifices were made? What histories were buried and why? What shame or victories went unrecognized or unaccounted for?

I am a seeker. As well as a storyteller (if you haven’t noticed). I use my intuition to dive deep into places that feel potent. I believe that’s where my power lies. I’m still learning how to name it. 

I can’t help but wonder, if I could’ve had someone to guide me to know myself and to help me recognize my gifts clearly. To point me in the direction of how to express, create and share them. If we all had that. From our mothers, aunts, grandparents and elders. 

Instead of trying to get somewhere, perhaps just being and sharing with our children would be enough. Instead of focusing on surviving, to have space and time to create and contribute things born from the heart’s expressions and longings.

Sometimes I feel like I can still channel those things. Even though I had to seek out teachers that were of a different lineage and culture. Even though I was born in Silicon Valley which is now the main heartbeat of American Consumerism and definition of success. 

I remain curious about it all. I continue to believe that no matter what each of us was told to aim for,  or who we are, we are always learning to find ourselves if we give ourselves the time to do so.

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