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Voces de la Cultura
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Puerto Rico en breve


BORICUA HOMECOMING

"God made me Puerto Rican, and Everything God Makes is Perfect".
Reflections after writing the novel "Boricua Homecoming"
.

By Luis R. González Argüeso
".
n the backcover of my novel "Boricua Homecoming" I admit that this story was written on my skin long before it was set down on paper. It was drafted and recorded in the memory of my own body's cells with every experience outside the island of my birth that reminded me in a thousand positive and negative ways, that I was exactly that, "and nothing else," for all practical purposes: a Puerto Rican. Not even a Puerto Rican-American, but just a Puerto Rican.

During the whole fifteen years or so I lived in the United States, and the thirty years that I worked for American corporations, that was the way teachers, neighbors, friends, superiors and colleagues described me, introduced me, and evaluated my performance and my person; in essence, that was the way they identified whom they thought I was: "Come meet our Puerto Rican student, our Puerto Rican neighbor, our Puerto Rican colleague," etcetera, ad nauseam. "He is bright. He is articulate. He speaks without an accent. He is charming-and in the winter, he's so pale he doesn't even look Puerto Rican." Oh yes.
El sueño del regreso
De venta en la tienda PROYECCIONES;
propiedad de Luis Molina Casanova, director de la película "El sueño del regreso",
primer piso de Plaza Las Américas,
o en: gonzalezargueso.com

My initial cultural innocence was the result of a Catholic school education by northamerican religious which taught me more about the history and culture of the United States than Puerto Rico's. So I flew up north believing myself as "American" as the next O'Brian and McDonald, only to receive the persistent treatment of rare exotic tropical specimen that failed to meet stereotypical standards but still was not and could never be "one of our own." I was not overtly mistreated, but it took me forty years to know myself subtly excluded from many fundamental aspects of the so-called American Dream and begin in earnest the long and painful journey home.

Survival meant, for a saltwater fish thrown into a freshwater pond, learning new ways to interact, to project myself, to self-promote, to get ahead, to put my latin temperament under a tight control. Eventually I grew a second cultural skin and felt somewhat safe in the freshwater pond. I began the upward motion that defined success and did rather well. But then I bumped my head against that nasty glass ceiling that said, in many subtle ways, this is it; this is as far as you go. The rest of the ladder is reserved only for our own.

My novel "Boricua Homecoming" is about people who eventually got tired of trying to make it "out there" and decide to come home, where they expect to thrive in total freedom. After all, self-knowledge and self-acceptance is the key to personal healing. Ah! But can you really come home? Home has changed too, you know, and you have changed, and nothing can ever be the way it was when you set out in your life's journey. My novel says, Yes, you can come home, but you must pay a price. You have to shed that second skin you grew to learn to swim in different waters. And when you do, the Angel with the fiery sword will let you re-enter your former Garden of Eden, your home, where, as Robert Frost so aptly put it, "they have to let you in," because it's your divine right to be there and claim it as your own. And then you proceed to discover exactly what they mean by 'the plantain stain' that God implants on your soul's core that sets you apart from the rest of the world.

"God made me Puerto Rican, and everything God makes is perfect." This is the message of healing and redemption that Sister Cachita teaches Carlotta, the one who makes it "out there" but ends up rejected at home. If God made you Chinese, that's perfect too. Be a good Chinese. Be whatever, but Be who you're supposed to be. Don't' try to be someone or something you are not. Carlotta has to stay and fight for her right to come back and claim her place among her own.

The journey home is more than physical, it is fundamentally a spiritual reality: it is the journey to self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and ultimately, self-embrace and celebration. Becoming who you are is the key to peace, harmony, and fruitful labor in this world. Love yourself, and THEN you will be able to love everyone else. Knowing that makes returning to a small, self-contained, tribal, trivial and in many ways myopic island existence easier to take. It makes possible the mature decision to stay here or go back to the mainland or Europe or a more globalized world. Because now you are fully and joyfully aware that no matter where you go, you are first and foremost Puerto Rican, and THAT is precisely what you bring to the party of the gloriously diverse global village.

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