Where I’m From by Karen Martinez-Beltran ’19

I am from el trapeador y la escoba, from Fabuloso and the loud sound of cumbias you hear outside of your room on an early Saturday morning.


I am from the 4th apartment building you see as soon as you turn right from Lake Street. The big, tan brick-building with the same four little kids playing outside every day. The apartment building with the overwhelming smell of pan dulce made from la vecina de abajo.


I am from the yellow dandelions that take over my backyard and the cacti that remind us so much of home.  


I am from the late nights playing loteria and pirinola with the entire family and the loud laughs you hear from a mile away that come with it. From Mami and Abuelo and Martinez-Beltran.


I am from la maña de siempre llegar tarde to a party and taking forever to say goodbye and leave.


From “ponte las pilas” and “No se dice que, se dice mande.”


I am from los rosarios. Where we mourn together as a family whenever someone dear to us dies. Where we send prayers after prayers—since we can’t physically be there back home to support the rest of our family. If we did, we could never come back.


I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota and the beautiful Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico—born in one, raised in the other. From burgers and fries to arroz and frijoles.


From the trips to Chicago or California to celebrate yet another Quinceañera, of another prima, another sobrina, another ahijada. The trips in which I meet yet more family members I didn’t know I had, and the chance to finally see Tia Tochita once more before she has to go back to Mexico.


I am from the artificial plant that used to sit in my childhood home living room where my mom used to always make me either stand or sit next to in order to take the perfect picture of myself in the cute little authentic outfits my Abuelita Jacinata handmade—especially for me. From the endless photo albums of family trips to Chicago, California or Monticello. To the photos of visits to the zoo, park, or even just to Tio Hector’s house—an association with the moment of all the times we spent together as a family. From birthdays and celebrations—and soon enough, my graduation. The first high school graduate in the family. Photos are all we have to show our family back home in Mexico that we’re safe and doing well. It’s the only thing we have to show them how much we’ve grown. A reminder, showing them that we always think about them and that we will never forget them or where we came from.