The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle

Stripped, Tarred, and Feathered

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I really don't remember eating this day.

The ruins at Ancient Ephesus and, well, me.

I grew up in South Texas surrounded by celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, Dias y Sies de Septiembre, Dia de los Muertos and eating guisado, barbacoa, and caldo.  (No, I don’t eat menudo.) I learned many words in the Spanish language (not Castilian), bad words and funny words.  I learned to appreciate the Mexican culture I grew up in, though I could never call it my own.

While growing up, I was fortunate to have taken many trips around the world.  I learned that biscuits in England are cookies and about the love/hate relationship with the royal family. I learned that onion soup is the best in France and that Parisians are as rude as the rumors about them.  I learned that salad is not the first course in a traditional Italian meal and that they really do treat everyone like family (Thanks Olive Garden!).  I learned that haggis comes with pomp and circumstance and is not just a food in Scotland and the meaning of the plaid that they wear.  I learned that seafood is in almost every Spanish dish along with saffron and that a lot of Spanish culture is mixed with the history of the Moors who were Muslim.  I learned that couscous is cooked in a clay dish in Morocco and what happens when a woman does not dress conservatively (or conservatively in someone else’s opinion).  I learned that oozo is some bad stuff and that half of translating Greek is finding the English root word (Ha!).  I learned what Turkish baths actually are and that I don’t think I stopped once to eat while I was there.

After moving to Oklahoma, I quickly discovered the heavy influence of Native American culture along with a lot of history that follows the Indians including removal from their ancestral lands.  I dove straight in to the Muscogee (Creek) or Mvskoke culture and have had to catch on quick to things that Oklahomans learn at a young age.  I’ve learned words like fvmbe, hesci, and mvto.  I’ve learned that not all Natives wore feather headdresses, and some wore turban like head coverings.  I’ve learned that Mvskoke culture is matrilineal.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve been surrounded by culture, none of which I can truly call my own.  In the last few months, I’ve been working to trace my ancestral heritage because for the most part, my roots are only verbal.  I’ve found France.  I’ve found Germany.  But most of all, I’ve found even more questions.

I realize that there is French and German culture that has been carried on, but it wasn’t passed down to me.  I don’t have a family crepe recipe or remember my grandmother speaking German in the house.  All of that was lost and forgotten and exchanged for saying “y’all” and eating McDonalds.

I guess you could say I have an “American” culture.  I understand the meaning of the 4th of July.  I shop at Wal-Mart (though I detest it) and enjoy football, basketball, and baseball.

I guess you could say I have a “Texas” culture.  I “Remember the Alamo” and exude a tough kick butt attitude.  I understand “Friday Night Lights” and prefer brisket as my choice of barbecue.

But in a sea of those who have carried on their heritage for hundreds of years I can’t compete.  Picking up now seems awkward because it’s almost not real.  My “white” culture has been lost forever.  The “WASPs” have been sprayed and squished.

So, in lieu of passing the recipes, the language, or the history down to my children; I feel I must choose to pass down something I’ve learned.  Do not forget; remember where you come from.  Even the little family history you have is significant; because when you’re old, you’ll wish you would have asked your grandmother; and when you’re gone, your children will wish they had asked you.  And then I will remind them time after time the Texan shoes they must fill and the long line of footsteps they must keep going.  And then to keep the John Wesley Hardin legacy going; just don’t shoot a man for snoring.


Author: Jess

Texan by birth, Okie by current address. Journalist who caught the travel bug. I have a healthy dachshund obsession and spend endless hours reading about world history on Wikipedia.

One thought on “Stripped, Tarred, and Feathered

  1. My brother is really into looking up our family heritage, and I am glad that stuff interest him. I say it is better that you learn what you can about your family then to not even try. As we go further into the future I have a feeling the past will slip away more from us. I think it is great you got to do a lot of traveling outside the US growing up. I have traveled all over Texas but have only been out of the state 3 times, so maybe that is something you can pass down to your kids.
    That is awesome that you have learned about the Indian culture. I feel horrible for how they were treated and how their way of life was destroyed. It is crazy to think how this country and even the world looked 250 to 300 years ago.

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