Me llamo Erín.
From July 4, 2012:
These buildings seem to stand out in the middle of a city.
A couple of interesting things happened to me today. First, Cotton Eyed Joe came on the loudspeaker at the gym. I just barely resisted hillbilly kicking my legs from side to side. But THEN, after about a month of semi-uncomfortable interactions, the gym man, the same man I stuttered to and crossed my first real language barrier with, asked me my name. See, if I was to pull a 2nd grade maneuver and rank all my friends here, he’d actually probably be in the top 5. With that said, I paid about 400 Bs and struggled to run lord knows how many kilometers (because I just don’t get that form of measurement) to reach this point with him.
Though La Paz is odd in itself.
Anyway, he asked for my name. And since I’m terribly awkward, I gave him my last name. So, when he said, “Keyes, it’s good to actually meet you.” I had to laugh and tell him, “Well, that’s my last name.” “Then what’s your first name?” “Erin.” “Hello, ERIN.” He said my name. He didn’t mess it up. He didn’t tell me it was odd. He said, “Hello, ERIN.”
What is this? Police phone? Got my work phone, my bro phone, my po-po phone.
Weird looking dogs.
You’d think that this pronunciation practice is, like signing up for a gym, a simple accomplishment. Erin: the most common name in the world, 2 syllables, half vowels, half consonants, easy as 3.14 (Pi, people, easy as pie). But you’d be surprised. Nobody here can understand or pronounce my name. They stare at me like I’ve taken a brief hiatus to Greek when I say “Me llamo Erin.” At first I thought it was because I was white. People refuse to understand my broken Spanish and they can’t seem to comprehend my name, my height, my eyes, my purpose for leaving Malibu, California because that’s what America is. But truth be told, Lauren and I ran into a blonde haired, blue eyed Dutch woman in Copacabana and upon introducing ourselves, she remarked, “Erin? How do you write that?” confused as can be. Lauren, once again, fits in perfect. “Hola, Lorena” is the closest she’s come to epic failure. And once again, I stand out.
The best looking kids.
Hot damn, so cute!
So, in the glow of this momentous day of Independence for the States, what does my unavoidable American branding mean for my future? Well, I’ve decided it’s okay to be American. If I want other people to rejoice in their culture, why should I not celebrate mine? Part of participating in cultural exchange is, well, sharing your own culture. I’m a bright and, between my skin tone and eyes, red-white-and-blue sign for America. But, I’m sort of getting into it. The girl who is always trying to be something else, I may as well use my skillz to bring something new to the Bolivian table. More specifically, something tolerant and educated, ridiculous and sincere. I believe in equality and opportunity and many other brilliant ideals of Mama ‘Mericah. And I want to share them. Of course, I’ll need to be on a team of locals to complete any culturally competent task, but I should never discount the great tools and styles of thinking the US has given me. I’m just going to run with it, try to be a pale, and yet somehow sun burnt, vestige of an American humanist.
Partner toilets without stalls? Hmm….that’s a new level of close I’m not ready for.
Hey Spiderman, what ya doin’ over thurr?