Rare, but not in the way I had imagined
I first remember pretending to be “exotic” when I was around 6 or 7 years old. While playing with friends, I was always “Christina from Rome”, which was as exotic as I knew how to be at that time. My mom was adopted, and thourughout my young life, I always held out this hope that I was actually something different, something exceptional, something I now know as ethnic. Alas, when I became pregnant with my first daughter, my mother told me her birth name. A beautiful, Scottish, Anglo…non-exotic name. I came to terms with my extreme whiteness, holding close to the tidbit of info I had once heard that “just about anyone with Southern ancestry has some Native American blood in them”. About 10 years ago, I began researching my family history on my father’s side. I have traced one line to Charlemagne, traced another to an ancient Celtic King, and have traced others back to before people had last names. And in every new line I trace, I find the same thing: I am white. Very white. My life’s desire to be different, to be an exception, to be “exotic” would seem to have met its demise here. Except, as I sat and looked at who I am and where I came from, I realized I am actually very unique, very different from just about everyone else I know. No matter which line you trace back, I come from those very first pioneers who braved the unknown to seek a new life, a new adventure in America. In most cases, I am 9th, 10th, even 11th generation American. I am American in a way some people say they are “half-Irish, half-German”. And so, while I still feel beyond flattered when someone thinks I am Jewish, part-Asian, Spanish, or Greek, and while I still claim that 1/16th Cherokee Indian, I have a new-found pride in being exactly who I am: a rare, exotic American girl.