Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mestizo Coffeehouse

As we recently upgraded to a larger apartment with a higher monthly rent, Brian and I decided to cancel our Comcast subscription which provided us with both cable and internet. Without cable, I've noticed that we are much more productive with our time and much more creative when it comes to seeking out entertainment. We work more on our personal projects. We play more board games and read more books. So as far as I'm concerned, losing cable wasn't that big of a deal.

However, I do miss having internet. A lot of the times we are lucky and can manage to get ourselves connected to our poor, unsuspecting neighbors who should really think about getting passwords for their wireless internet. It doesn't always work out though, so a lot of the times we come downstairs to Mestizo Coffeehouse. It's a vibrant, cultural place with empanadas and mate on the menu, beautiful artwork by Mexican artists all over the walls and in the adjoining gallery, and plenty of warm, Spanish-speaking people. It truly has a great vibe. On occassion they feature poets or musicians, and many different groups use this location to hold weekly meetings.

I just come here for the free internet mostly. That and the food. So here I am, on my laptop, eating a steak quesadilla with homemade salsa and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola imported from Mexico. It's terrific. Yet while I'm here, I feel very aware of how white I am. Like I've mentioned before, it's only on my dad's side that I'm latino at all, yet my father has always been accused of "acting white." I didn't grow up in a home that spoke Spanish or made homemade tortillas or any of the things that the other patrons identify with. To me, my ethnicity has never felt like it was important. Nor has the ethnicity of others been that important to me. Brian's best friend is black, our roommate is Korean, yet both of those traits seem just as trivial as saying someone's eyes are blue or that they're tall.

Yet here at Mestizo Coffeehouse, I'm introduced to a group of people that take such pride in their heritage. People that truly identify with the trials and tribulations of their forefathers. Who make their identity known through their ethnicity. It's all very fascinating to me. In many ways I'm envious of them. They know who they are, where they came from, and where they're going.

But me? I hesitate before checking that hispanic box on forms. Not because I'm somehow ashamed, but because I doubt that such a strong, proud people would recognize me as one of their own.

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