It’s like being born with spices in your blood and being named after your
papi’s favorite cigars.
It’s getting diamonds pierced in your ears after five days of birth,
wearing Royal Violets cologne every day until age 15, (still do)
and throwing a fifteenth birthday party that costs your parents
more than your first car.
It’s loving Marti and hating Castro. Lighting candles at Mass for “La
Caridad del Cobre”;and having to kiss every Cuban cheek like you’re
It’s looking European, but feeling Caribbean; And seething inside while
smiling politely when someone asks if you’re Puerto Rican. (ouch!)
It’s meals at every party; parties for every occasion.
It’s serving your skinny uncle piles of “lechon” on “Nochebuena”
while your three hundred pound aunt drinks creme de vie.
It’s having Turkey with white rice and black beans,
and flan with a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.
It’s eating the “cuban” birthday cake wishing you had also a scoop of Carvel;
It’s the “Little white boxes” at birthday parties filled with 1 pastelito
de carne, 1 tamal, 2 croquetas, a bocadito and maybe a toy!
It’s learning to dance merengue and salsa (before Salsa became a “dance”) from your
papi or tio or abuelito and knowing the difference between a guajira and a
It’s being able to sing The Star Spangled Banner and hum the Cuban National
It’s knowing at least four lines of the Guantanamera’s lyrics.
It’s having cafe con leche for breakfast, Burger King for Lunch, and
chuletas de puerco, arroz blanco y garbanzos or chicharos for dinner and a
slice of apple pie for dessert.
It’s loving the hot, humid air of Miami;
It’s drinking cortaditos;
It’s eating guayaba, cream cheese and crackers;
It’s knowing that “this never happened in Cuba”;
It’s dealing with chaperonas;
It’s a certain sexiness in the way she walks and the twinkle in the eyes of
any Cuban woman;
It’s talking too fast in English
and running your words together in Spanish.
It’s being born and raised in a free country and being madly in love with a
restless island you’ve never even seen…(Our grandparents would be proud)