An early draft of this was originally published in The Miami Student in Sept. 2017—
“No, I should wait to visit. I’ve only been at school for a few days,” I say over the phone.
My family only lives two hours away, but it’s my first weekend away at Miami and they already want me to come visit.
I love my family, but maybe I should have chosen an out-of-state school.
That said, I start calling Miami my home the day I move in. I love my new friends, I love the campus and I love being disappointed every time I see Brick Street’s entrance and think it’s a movie theater. I can’t wrap my head around being homesick in such a place because I’m ready to live such a life, just like that moving (and propaganda-tinged) poem said I would.
I’m not ready for the feeling when it hits. I’m fighting procrastination in my dorm alone, when my stomach outright scoffs at my growing to-do list.
I open my fridge for the Mission brand tortillas graciously given to freshman students without anything to put inside, and can’t push away the memory of my grandma’s homemade tortillas.
Mission tortillas taste fine when microwaved, but they don’t taste like home. I spit out the limp bite of flour, remembering how hot a fresh tortilla is when you snatch it off the pan with just your fingers. Homemade tortillas taste good even when you don’t have anything to stuff them with, even when they grow cold.
My name sounds white, I look white and I am mostly white. I check “Caucasian” on the U.S. Census. But my great grandma Rodriguez greets the men in our family with an ecstatic “Papasito!” and kisses their cheek, and tells tales of the teachers in San Antonio who scorned her for her accent and her appearance. And my grandma wistfully recalls when she could speak fluent Spanish just as well as she remembers the recipes from her late Mexican restaurant, which closed before I was born.
My heritage is part of my identity, even though I feel strange sharing it. I want to, but I also don’t want to lay claim to the experiences I don’t have. It gets awkward when a white girl reminisces about her grandma making mexican food for Thanksgiving, especially to someone who actually looks the part.
I don’t know how to fight this kind of homesickness here. Instead, I call home.
“Grandma, can we make tortillas this weekend?”