Sunday, May 2, 2010


A phone call last night led to a tale of the trials and travails of assembling a caja china in the Southern heartland aided and abetted by a good ol' boy. Later an email brought a poem by Sonia Guerra which spoke to me as the child of Cubans.

As I wiped the tear from my eye, I spied a theme to the evening. In high school, I was introduced to the concept of the "marginal man." (That was in the days before political correctness. One has to wonder what it is now...) Anyway, the marginal person has one foot in either culture, in my experience belonging to neither. Although inconvenient at times, like when you're sixteen and trying to get permission to go to the movies with your friends on a Friday night, it is often incredibly comforting, like when you are cosseted and coddled in a most unAnglolike way, being called El Niño long past the threshold of adulthood by an overly fond grandparent.

As I explained to a young relative in the middle of a genealogy project who was bemoaning that the kids in her class could trace their ancestors to George Washington and the like, leaving her feeling so different: her classmates only have one cultural pocketbook to dig into; we have two.

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