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As the colorful paper decorations flapped in the wind above my head, I couldn’t help but feel like I was home.
I have been around the world and back again. I have experienced the culture shock that comes from food, from language, from bathrooms, and all the other things that we take for granted every day. But, what I’ve never experienced is seeing my own home reflected back at me in the culture goings on of another country.
Somehow I found myself standing in Mexico City celebrating the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) and feeling closer to the multicultural mixture of my own home in the United States.
The Southeastern most corner of Pennsylvania is more than just a buffer between the Keystone State and its Maryland and Delaware neighbors. It is also small town suburbia that echoes the traditions of the Hispanic and Latino citizens who also call it home.
The feeling that came from the flapping colorful paper would continue as our time in Mexico continued. I found it in the same pastries my Spanish teacher used to buy from the bakery across the street from my high school. In the mariachi bands whose rhythms and exuberance can be found at celebrations and restaurants in my hometown. The beautiful dresses. The hum of Spanish being spoken.
Normally, I am weary of the term multicultural. It often smacks of feigned accepted that relies on assimilation and ignorance. However, I never realized how deep the ripples of that multiculturalism had embedded in me until I was in Mexico City and felt like it was only a few steps away from my own home.
Regardless of the garbage scrolling across the bottom of the cable news screen, Mexicans have always been my neighbors. My friends. The first group to accept me when I moved here so many years ago. The bravery that comes from starting over. The love of blending the old and the new.
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Mexico left me not only with the magic of that county, but also the magic of my own. How lucky am I to live in a place where we (surely imperfectly) embrace the multitude of identities in all of the folks we call friends.
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..