How different would I be if I were born in a Cuba that was free?
I grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, surrounded by displaced Cubans who always spoke of their pre-Castro Cuba with a high degree of reverence, respect, and regard. Not surprisingly, that pro-Cuba narrative held when my family moved to Miami during my teens. I believe that if it were not for Fidel Castro’s Revolution, my family would have remained in Cuba.
My entire life, there have been encounters that prompted that question: Who would I be if I were born and raised in Cuba? Would I still be me? At the core, would I still have the same beliefs? Yeah, my Spanish would be better – and I suppose my English would be worse – but what else would be different?
On the one hand, I could conclude that everything would’ve been different. After all, many of the people, places, and experiences that shaped my values and beliefs, they would have all been different. Would those differences have produced a better or worse version of the me I am today?
On the other hand, I can rationalize that with the exception of the culture-influenced preferences, such as food, music, language, etc., fundamentally, I’d be the same. Ultimately, I’d have the same family members who would have instilled the same set of rules and dispensed their same set of values, no matter our geographic location, right?
In the end, I’m happy being me… I mean, when all is said and done, I’m the only me I know. Yet still, when I run into a Cuban who was born and raised in Cuba, and is of similar demographic profile (age, gender, etc.) but talks, walks and thinks a little differently, I can’t help but to wonder, “Could that have been me?”