V – Viviana
V. I was born in Cuba. I left as an infant actually and then we moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and we lived there a few years and then we moved to Virginia, and I grew up. My formative, I think, my formative years were in Virginia. And then from there we moved to Miami.
When I’m in Italy, I think I’m Italian. In Greece they think I'm Greek. In the Middle East, they think I'm from the Middle East somewhere. When I visit Colombia, they think I'm from America, or somewhere else because I'm definitely not Hispanic for them by colour for that. So, I've always been displaced. I don't know what it would feel like to be in Cuba, I've never been.
S- Aha, right.
V. I had this conversation with Dad once, sitting here in the middle of a hurricane. And I said, ‘Dad, part of me wants to go to Cuba but, you know, the reasons I want to go to Cuba, don't exist anymore. My grandparents’ house, that my great grandparents built in 1902, finally got blown away from a hurricane, about 15 years ago. That house, after the revolution, got turned it to hospital. And then after the hospital they turned it into a Country Club for the military. And my mother was very insulted because they made her bedroom into a library, and she, my mother, hated reading so she was very insulted (laughter) and she said they should have made it into a Games Room.
S – Aww
V- Yeah, it was a humungous house. It was one of the famous houses in Cuba. But I wanted to see it after the house got, after the hurricane blew it away. In fact there's nothing left for me to see there. I have no relatives for one thing.
I imagine Cuba as a place with a lot of colour. A lot of colour. There is a lot of beauty in Cuba still, other than the buildings that haven't been fixed, since 1969.
S- Was music quite a big part of your life growing up? And as a family was it a big part?
V- Yeah, I do like the old stuff to El Cigala music, the boleros and stuff like that. I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was around 11. My grandmother, my grandmother bought me a guitar from, when she got back from Cuba, she had to go to Mexico first, and she brought me a guitar. My grandmother, my maternal grandmother, who was an amazing, amazing musician played the piano, guitar, organ and I don’t know what else, had a beautiful voice, and I did like to sing together and play guitar together and that. But I grew up listening to, you know, classic rock and stuff, and the Spanish music really was the stuff my parents listened to, not me, because I had my American friends.
S. Within your home are there particular cultural things you would hold on to?
V. We have cabinets full of spices.
V. You know, we, we do cook with alot of ..I don’t mean spicy like hot, like curries or anything.
V. Yeah, I do have a lot of stuff. I make vanilla. You know, food is definitely something that I keep culturally.
And my oldest daughter actually went to Cuba.
V. And she felt very like, she goes ‘Mom, I felt like I belonged there’.
V. And I go ‘Okay!’
S. s’ interesting.
V. Okay. Yeah. I mean she, she was born and raised in Miami.
S. And were there quite traditionally gender defined roles within the family would you say?
V. Oh, you know my dad wouldn't let me drive. Yeah, my dad would not let me drive at all,’ you're a woman’. My dad didn't want me to go to college. What!? ‘You're a woman, you don't need to go to college. I want you, I want you to be a legal secretary.’ ‘Seriously Dad! A legal secretary?’
Anyways, my grandmother had a Volkswagen. It didn't have a fan belt so she got a couple of girdles and she sewed them together and created a fan belt for her car.
V. She does! The car needed painting. And somebody was painting their house with a blue colour enamel paint and she painted her car with a house paint!