Earlier tonight, while I was savoring the deliciousness of Miami River newcomer Dashi, a friend asked me about yesterday's Washington D.C. travel diary. Specifically, he wanted to know why I felt such a strong sense of patriotism considering that I only recently became a U.S. citizen and that, thanks to my middle class Mexican upbringing, the U.S. didn't exactly represent salvation from war, famine or drought. As a red-blooded American, he connected with my excitement over visiting the "gathering spaces that have witnessed our government behind the scenes for over a century". And, after reading my post, he was curious to understand how a foreign-born person like me could channel the undying love he has for his country and its history so perfectly.
Fueled by a delicious lychee/raspberry cocktail, my response to his question was mostly stream-of-consciousness—no overthinking, no hesitation, no calculation. Somehow it was spot on. I think it's because for the last 10 years since I received my green card and more so since I applied for citizenship, I have been on an on-going quest to define my identity as it relates to my nationality. I have been struggling to reconcile my decision to surrender my Mexican citizenship in exchange for an American one and trying to define my connection to this country for most of my life. Even now, two years after leading a group of 40 in the Oath of Allegiance during my naturalization ceremony, I still struggle between the desire to preserve my Mexican identity (my chilanga accent, my family's cultural traditions) and the desire to fully embrace my American pride.