One of the first love affairs that I can remember having is the one with my culture. Thanks to my parents, I have always known about and been in touch with my Puerto Rican heritage. Although I was born in Heidelberg, Germany and have lived in the States for the majority of my life, if asked what my hometown is the answer is always the same: Cayey, Puerto Rico. Many may argue to the contrary saying that I am more “gringa” than Boricua – but I pay no mind to these opinions. Having a sense of self is a highly personal matter; there are certain aspects of life that touch your soul, but only you know what those things are. For me, learning about my culture and my heritage touched my soul in a deep and profound way. Our history is full of beauty and pain but often overlooked and neglected in the U.S. Our ancestry is rich and far reaching though often misunderstood. As I continued on this journey called life, I was fortunate enough to meet a like minded spirit as rebellious and passionate as I am; with him I learned about the less known and certainly less commercialized side of our Puerto Rican history. It is thanks to my husband that I learned about Pedro Albizu Campos, Ramon Emeterio Betances, Lolita Lebron, the Young Lords and how becoming highly politicized was necessary to understanding fully what being Puerto Rican means. In looking back at some of my very first writings I came across a poem that I had written in 1998 at the tender age of thirteen; it so passionately describes how I felt and still feel about my culture and helped me recall memories of my first love: Borinquen. Below you will find the poem titled Borinquen in me…
Borinquen in me
Dedicated to: Juan, Miguel, Milagros, Olga, y Manuel
Borinquen, a name soothing and comforting like a mothers touch to her ill child. A name that’s not just a name, but also a place in my soul where serenity and peace come together as one. Not a name and just a feeling, but a place…a place I call my own with the greatness and pride that exceed infinite feelings of joy one can feel only in their heart. Mi tierra Borincana, the land which named me a Boricua a word coming from the roots of my Indian Taino ancestors. La Isla del Encanto is the place in which give me security and fulfillment. Puerto Rico, a name given by my Spanish ancestors, was used to describe the beautiful water ports filled with layers of gold treasured by Indians for its beauty, loved by Spaniards for wealth, and hated by esclavos, who shackled, worked to retrieve its value from the depth of its waters. As these three cultures merged and fused together a new culture was born…my culture. It is what makes me today; it is my life, my family, my identity, and my freedom of spirit. No matter where I may be or may go, la Boricua is in me and shown outside of me never to be denied. Here, I can easily accept ones culture to diversify me, but I will always embrace the roots in which created me, raised me and made me strong. Many here do not understand, and few relate, but it is up to me to keep la Borinqueña that flows through mi sangre, which flows por mis venas y corre por mi cuerpo entero alive. Boricua yo soy and always will be.