Rootless: Feeling Culturally Faceless

I am not Italian, Japanese, Buddhist, African, Mexican or Jewish. I do not come from a family that has ‘traditions’. Food typical of my culture, my ethnicity?… What culture, what even is my ethnicity? I am white. I am American. I come from a Baptist family… but is that all I am? I never grew up with a lot of family around. I never had to follow traditions.

The person I am today and the things that have shaped me, is that my own subculture? But what if I doesn’t feel like a culture? I feel no attachment or any sense of roots to anything. Today I am feeling rootless.

It’s like I am perpetually faceless in a sea of proud Italians, devoted Catholics and traditional ways. I don’t have a Grandmother who taught me how to cook… I barely know my Grandmothers. But is this my fault? Did I push away my culture, or was that just the way it naturally happened. I live a 4 hour plane ride away from my family… it makes me bitter. I envy those who live in the same city as their families.

I have always been that girl who attaches herself to different cultures. I don’t want to be associated with a faceless culture that has no traditions, so I am in this cycle of just attaching myself to others. One of my best friends is Jewish, and I adore it when I get to be apart of that culture during religious holidays. Some of my most treasured memories are the times when I got to be at her families table at Passover and hear traditional readings from the Torah, and when I got to enter her Synagogue, and when I learned how to play Dradle. I adore going to Taquerias, getting to go to Quinceaneras and feeling like I am almost apart of the Hispanic culture with my best friend Sergio. I adore being around language- because to me, language is culture. (And I don’t mean English… English is the language of the world.) I adore being in Italy because it has its own traditions and customs… but I have never truly been apart of any of these.

I think I keep being apart of these things because culturally I feel faceless- but being a foreigner who is attaching myself to these different cultures that aren’t my own, in turn, adds to this faceless feeling.

But what do I do? How do I stop this from happening to my kids? Do I go find my families tree and trace back to where my ancestors came from? Do I adopt that culture? Or do I just embrace being the faceless American I am?

Maybe I can make my own culture. Or maybe I could just adopt one? Or marry someone and take theirs…

Today I’m feeling faceless.


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