This semester I am taking a Creative Nonfiction elective and the first assessment required me to write about myself and a place. Below is my piece on self which I am so happy to share I received a distinction! (I may or may not have danced around the house subsequent to reading my grade)
I’ll be posting the place piece later in the week.
“So, where are you from?” I was asked by an American waitress in a beachside cafe in Coogee.
“I’m Australian,” I responded, followed by a smile that I hoped would end the exchange.
She cocked her head to one side and it appeared she spoke before she thought, as she blurted out, “No, but what are you?”
A question I’m often asked, which is always met with confusion and follow-up interrogation.
I was born in Sydney and am proud to call myself Australian. However this notion is greeted with doubt, as I clearly don’t fit the “Aussie girl-look”.
Could I blame the American waitress for her scepticism?
My hair thick and chestnut brown, my eyes a melting pot of green, gold and brown. My skin, always a month-old suntan. Instead of straight lines, my body contours are rounded with curves.
I’ve struggled from a young age to understand what it means to be Australian. Instead of Smith, Jones or Martin as a surname, mine is Hermo- “could you spell that for me?”
But what does it mean to be Australian? Are sandy-blonde locks, long legs and piercing blue eyes the standard ‘Australian’ look?
My maternal grandfather was one of the 200,000 Italians who migrated to Australia in the 1940s. My father reached Sydney at the age of two, with parents who only spoke Spanish.
But this was not a fad that only spanned a short time after the war. Last year alone over 500,000 people arrived to live in Australia from abroad. I was born here and doubt still clouds my nationality.
At what stage could they consider themselves Australians?
This country is rich not with just one culture, but an infusion of many. A celebration of multiculturalism and harmony.
I am the definition of what it means to be Australian.
Oh, and could I please order a hot chocolate when you’re ready?