I remember being driven to school by my papi every morning listening to Leo Dan’s greatest hits in our big red van. The van was more than just my ride to school. It was an emblem of my position in America, of my class, of our class, of my family’s bank account. It was a flag for not fitting in. The big red bright color that I miss so much matched my anxiety around arriving late (to be late to school, to get behind). My white counterparts would be reminded of my difference.
I would eat sugar Twinkies and watch HGTV. As a nine year old, I believed having a newly redecorated interior was the utmost signifier of being American. Having a full-on kitchen with kitchen cabinets and a kitchen island (we had two cabinets and no island). Fake flowers in a seashell in our bathroom and the American landscape painting my dad found sitting in our interior porch were the most American things that we owned. Home decorating TV helped me imagine what the interior of my home could be, and then I could feel less different. The interior became a marker not only of difference but also of similarity, because inside my home I had numerous individuals who were like me. I spent the entire summer before fourth grade designing my own furniture line, each page filled with drawings of the separate objects that made up the living room or bedroom. I created a couch that had armrests made up of fish tanks. I imagined later I would figure out the way in which you could actually feed the fish without having to rip apart the couch.