…I have none.

I have never identified with anything too closely for too long. It seems that I have always felt the outsider, even among friends and even with family. I don’t know if it was (is) just some romantic notion on my part, or if there is more there. I have always felt adrift in life.

— on a side note, I believe this to be one of my failures in relationships with women. I, now, understand Woody Allen’s use of the Marx joke that he would never join a club that would have him as a member, but I also think that this has to do with desire and how desire works. We always want what we can’t have; anyway, this is a huge digression and fodder for another post later–

Now, though, as I am older, and now as I find myself in the midst of so many people so different from me, I find myself latching on to “identity.” This is the first time since my early teens that I find myself among people with completely different background; the first time I find myself the minority in a really really long time. And now, maybe because of this, maybe because of nostalgia, maybe because I hate when people “outside” try to speak to something you know so intimately, I find myself “identifying” with my old “home.”

I suddenly feel myself more Cuban and from Miami than ever. Although in the past, it didn’t really matter to me. I spent a lot of my early twenties trying to “find myself”- trying to reach some kind of at-one-ment, whole(ness), but then I found Eastern thought, which began to put cracks in that idea. Why was it I wanted to identify so much with something? What kind of completeness could I find or even fulfill? I began to realize that the idea was to realize that there is no wholeness or completeness; I realized that that idea was a delusion, it was an attachment I had to this life, it was a delusion that leads to material pain, and that I had to get it out of my head.

Once in grad school, I began to read more philosophy concerning this aspect of identity. If words were never fully present, and words were the only way to know anything, then how could I ever be present to myself, much less to an other? Once again, I began to shake off ideas of identity and embrace a Albert Camusian idea of the absurdity of life (and even with a God, I still couldn’t see knowing what the “meaning” was, so I was still left in a meaningless world) and I embraced at least knowing that the world is absurd, that I have no identity, and that I could still be freely happy.

And yet, I just responded to someone who posted an article from a socialist magazine praising and defending the Cuban government. My response was then responded to by someone telling me that “I didn’t know shit about Cuba”- which, I think, is kind of funny. Because in a sense, I don’t know shit about Cuba, but then again, do I know more about Cuban living in a Cuban culture, having Cuban parents and family, hearing stories from people who have been in Cuba, than some white kid from Tennessee? But why do I care? That is the real question…

I am never going to convince this gringo that what Castro and the Cuban government has done to its people is a crime against humanity, and he certainly will never convince me that the Cuban government is in any way, shape, or form good or right. Additionally, I don’t even identify with being Cuban because all I know of Cuban is the second hand stories I get from family that lived there years and years ago.

Yet again, though, it made me angry. It really got under my skin that some dude, out there, so rudely attacked my beliefs, which is why I never get involved in these conversations about politics or religion because they usually end badly.

The other thing that happened though is that while I never though of myself in any political terms/identity, I find myself more and more drawn to ethics specifically, and more generally politics. A part of me feels that if I am going to be in school for these many years learning stuff that some of the stuff I learn should be an ethics and a politic.

I browsed my modest library of books and am drawn to wanting to read Reinaldo Arenas’s Before Night Falls; I also want to read Jose Marti poetry, and I want to become better educated about the past and what happened in Cuba… I feel a pull towards these things that “should” define me. Now that I am away from it, I feel more Cuban than ever. It would surprise me if there is a single Cuban (and maybe 2 Spanish speakers in total) in all of the English graduate program here…

So fine, maybe I don’t know a heck of a whole lot about Cuba (because I was born in California and went to high school in Miami), but, I think i know a little more than “shit” about it…