I'm More Cuban Than I Thought!

Hi everyone, it’s Amy.

 I’m not sure if you know this or not, but my Mom and Dad divorced when I was 3 (which totally worked out because I have a really awesome Dad now!  ;-D)

Amy_cow_dress034_2 Anyway, after the divorce, we (Mom, Adam, & I) moved in with Mom’s parents who lived in Anaheim.  Anaheim is still where many Orange County Cubans are. 

But back then, it was THE PLACE in the “Oh Si” for Cubans. There was and still is a large Latin Community in Anaheim.

My street was called Ken Way, which was a cul-de-sac.  My house was at the end of the cul-de-sac on the right side. It was in that house that all the great Noche Buenas happened.

There was the perfect tree for climbing in the big front yard. There was a “club house” in the back.

The back!

The back was big enough to play baseball with my cousins. It was lined with roses. There were giant trees . . . it was a GREAT backyard. (Both AWESOME and BIG.)


And inside! There was this super long hallway that led to all three bedrooms and the one bathroom. But if we shut all the doors, this long hallway was pitch black. So whenever my cousins would come over, we would make the hallway really dark and play a game we called “Darky-darky.” (Original, I know.)

At night, my abuelo would call me into his room and tell me a bedtime story. It was in that house that I remember my first café con leche. I remember watching the novela “Pobre Diabla” with my abuela. (Why she let me watch it, I’m not sure . . .)

 I have so many memories in and of that house. I could talk about it for hours. Days even.
Plus, the neighbors all adored me. I even went to school with a girl who lived across the street. 

Our school was just a few blocks away (or so it seemed to my young eyes). I went to kindergarten there and had the same teacher my much older cousin had had. Mrs. Axel. I loved it there. I went to first grade there. I was THE. MOST. POPULAR. GIRL. IN. SCHOOL.


No really. I knew everyone. I liked everyone. Everyone knew me. Everyone loved me. (Mom says I was also the only blond at that school, but that’s not important right now. ;-D)

There was even a boy who adored me and I adored him right back. His name was Andy Garcia. I swear. What are the odds? 

When I started second grade, Mom told me we were moving to Mission Viejo. My teacher invited me to be part of a special book club of advanced readers, but I had to decline because I was moving.

And by mid-October . . . I was in a new school and I didn’t know anyone. Sure, I made a couple of friends, but there were cliques at this school.
I was an outsider.
And no-one in this new town spoke Spanish. (which is lame because it had a Spanish name “Mission Viejo”)

And I’m not sure if I’ve ever quite recovered from it.

 Last week I was driving through Anaheim (ironically, I feel “at home” there) and found myself in my old neighborhood. I found my old house. It was different. Someone had taken out the great climbing tree and added a bedroom. It was a different color. There were other people living in it. But it was still my house.

I know it’s childish, but I have this secret dream that one day “when I grow up” I’m going to buy that house and move back.

My 97 year old Tio Abuelo talks about buying “una finca en Cuba” and moving back too.

Sometimes people will ask me about Cuba and say, “How can you miss a place you’ve never been? How can you identify with your Cuban side so much?”

Sometimes I’ve wondered how I can feel so strongly like I’m in exile too . . . How is it that I can weep as if I lost my childhood home in an instant and have never been able to go back . . . As if I had to acclimate to a new world, but desperately miss my old one?

 Oh wait . . .

. . . maybe I’m more Cuban than I thought.