Yes, I realize I am taking the first day of the challenge after five days have passed. For Day One, I’m supposed to freewrite for twenty minutes, and the clock starts now:
Growing up as a Hispanic girl in a border town is hard enough, especially when your mom speaks nothing but Spanish and you want desperately to fit in but you don’t look Hispanic. I don’t even sound Hispanic to some people, maybe its just their judgment of my fair skin and Irish last name. The way I see it, I’m me. And just because I don’t look the same, doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same as everyone who has ever been left out because of something you just cannot change.
Books were my solace, and words were my friends. I was teacher’s pet, bookworm, shy, quiet, mousy, and mostly forgettable growing up. It was easy to get lost being the youngest (and quitetest) of six children in my household. My three sisters are significantly older than me, and my two brothers never got inside my head. I am an enigma in most cases, unless family passes their own opinion for my own.
I cannot even begin to tell you the horrors of growing up in a place where most of the girls had curves, and luscious dark mahogany hair, pouty lips and an attitude, while all the time I was as flat as the wall with straight hair and a plain jane face hidden behind owl frames that swallowed my face. Add this to the fact that everyone, and I do mean everyone, mispronounced my last name! I wanted to be Martinez, or Cruz, or Garcia…no my last name is Dougherty.
Starting a new school year, or dealing with the occasional substitute, was the bane of my childhood existence. They would read roll call and say “Dorthy” or “Dorothy” or the worst one ever by one particular substitute in middle school, “Dorky”! Where in the hell did she get the K sound from Dougherty. Oh there was no shame in mispronouncing, they would smile and completely disregard my meek correction. Some teachers would take my pronunciation “lesson” very seriously, and they won me over every time.
Looking white, sounding white, with an Irish last name was not great at times living in a bilingual community when some meaner bullies thought you didn’t understand the snide comments in Spanish. TIME’S UP!