Rafael “Rafa” Toro Quotes in The Book of Unknown Americans
We’re Americans now. We’re citizens, and if someone asks me where my home is, I say los Estados Unidos. I say it proudly. Of course, we still miss Panamá. Celia is desperate to go back and visit. But I worry what it would be like after all this time. We thought it was unrecognizable when we left, but I have a feeling it would be even more unrecognizable now. Sometimes I think I would rather just remember it in my head, all those streets and places I loved. Because a place can do many things against you, and if it’s your home or if it was your home at one time, you still love it. That’s how it works.
“It’s in you,” my dad assured me once. “You were born in Panamá. It’s in your bones.”
I spent a lot of time trying to find it in me, but usually I couldn’t. I felt more American than anything, but even that was up for debate according to the kids at school who’d taunted me over the years. The truth was that I didn’t know which I was. I wasn’t allowed to claim the thing I felt and I didn’t feel the thing I was supposed to claim.
“Next time, just try to blend in with everyone else and you’ll be fine,” my mom offered.
“The way of the world,” my dad said.
“What?” my mom asked.
“Just trying to blend in. That’s the way of the world.”
“Well, that’s the way of America, at least,” my mom said.