Nada Personal: Migrant Music Monday

I didn’t start to appreciate Spanish music until I left Santa Ana. Twice.

The daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a mother who lived half the time here and in Mexico, the aspiration was to always leave. To leave was to succeed; perhaps a motto of sorts for all migrants. The first time I left, I left to boarding school for my high school education. The second time I left, I left for college.

The music I had deemed “paisa” and corny, I soon found nostalgic and riveting. I found myself listening to it in small crevices in time, hidden, like it was a secret. I listened to Soda Stereo, Jaguares, Los Prisioneros when I felt particularly nostalgic or rebellious at these prestigious institutions.

I found myself sneaking these moments, snapshots into my life, as if the music could truly transport me to these particular moments in time. Memory challenged the notion that time was linear, and memory in its permanence could revive the scent of communal laundry, busy hands lifting the particles of Suavitel and warm cotton; the warmth of the maza in the tortilleria, the machinery mixing the flour, making it look white clay; a texture that feels like creation.

While my education was free, it wasn’t all truly free. I had to assimilate, trade in my “young punk/skater” aesthetic for a blazer from New York & Company. I had to stop rolling my pancakes into burritos and had to use utensils at dinner time. I had to replace my Spanglish slang with words you see written on a liberal newspaper. I of course escaped my mold of cookie cutter prep school girl, continued skateboarding by the church on campus while blasting “Nada Personal” by Soda Stereo.

When I went to college, the experience was a lot different. I blared my playlist loudly in my dorm room, slowly peeling away my skin from boarding school, becoming one of those hip latinos with piercings and rimmed glasses. I found Latinos around campus, usually a relief seeing a brown face in a sea of white privilege, who also enjoyed 80’s spanish new wave classics. After reading our obligatory readings, we would blast this music, stay up until 4am knowing we’d have class at 9am. We were reckless latino scholars.

And now I’m back home, maybe for a little while, or longer that I intend, but though this is the case, the same playlist that I played in 9th grade is still the same playlist I listen to now. It is less dissonant this time around; it feels just right.

Sandra De Anda is a Santa Ana native and graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
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