So there we stand struggling to keep up: Cooking, taking care of the younger cousins, going to church, navigating our way through higher education and all by a reasonable time, ‘cause everyone knows it’s not safe for girls to be out at night without a male relative. My parents’ main concern was always my education; they worked hard to put me and my siblings through one of the best schools in the Caribbean where the focus, no matter the subject, was always placed on critical thinking regardless of commonly held opinions. An education which sounds great on paper, but whose effects were sorely felt when I told my parents I didn’t believe in Christianity. I remember growing up and thinking that so many of our Christmas traditions seemed so weird to me. The nacimientos, the prayers and leaving grass and water out for the tres reyes so they would stop by my house and leave presents for me like they did for Jesus. I used to feel like it was an inside joke I wasn’t in on but laughed along with anyway. But now, I’m just happy my abuela doesn’t get wifi ‘cause the poor woman still doesn’t know I’m an atheist and if she ever found out, I would need divine intervention to get me out of that mess.
For bicultural generations like ours, balancing often contradictory expectations seems damn near impossible so we end up dropping balls for the sake of juggling the rest, cherry-picking the customs from each culture we’re immersed in: Choosing to go away for college instead of staying at home, choosing to marry much later in life (if at all), choosing to question the religions of our parents, choosing to express ourselves sexually and in general putting our needs ahead of those of our families to pursue a modern form of the American Dream.