How do you define your nationality? Do you use the country you were born in or do you look at your parents and see where they’re from? What do you answer when someone asks where you are from? Better yet, asks you who you truly are?
I was born in Azerbaijan and lived there until I was nine. Shortly, we moved to Canada and I grew up there until I was sixteen. Later, we moved to Puerto Rico – an island. So when you count the years I’ve spent (and am spending) in each country, the numbers are bold enough to construct and reconstruct an individual. Technically, I’m Azerbaijani – my hair, my body structure, my eyes are all Caucasian. However, when I look at my thoughts and opinions, I have a liberal mind reconstructed over my manners and how I’ve been brought up. I think homosexuality is beautiful (Azerbaijanis might disagree on this), I believe women are superior and need to embrace the fact that we are humans and deserve the acknowledgment, I think women are more than birth-giving individuals. I also believe that emotions and human characteristics are art.
I’m not afraid of using the word sex – except in front my parents (let’s get real!) Puerto Rican culture isn’t that far off from the ‘liberal’ lifestyle of Canadians, however they do appreciate the culture and the family traditions much more. There’s more history, more richness in their culture and I think I’ve learned to appreciate myself and my roots more by seeing how tradition and culture is a huge statement on the island (maybe I think this way because I moved from Canada, the country of the immigrants and diversity to an island like Puerto Rico, a mono-diversified society – who knows?)
My parents asked me in March whether I wanted to fly with them to Azerbaijan as part of their July vacations – to visit family and friends. Surprisingly, I didn’t scream of excitement, rather declined the offer. I didn’t want to go, I’m not ready. I was and am bombarded by confusing regarding the matter. Let me explain.
Every time I go to Azerbaijan, I get this feeling of being in a jailhouse. I feel restricted from pretty much everything. I wouldn’t be able to drive (won’t be allowed by my parents), I won’t be able to stay out late (because my parents still think it demonstrates ‘bad behavior’) and I’d have to dress as if I’m always going to a fashion show (Baku youth says so.) I’m not much of a family person, I tend to get tired of the same people quickly, so I tend to recharge by being alone or go out and be with friends. So even tough being always surrounded by aunts and cousins is fun, it gets quite boring at times. I remember how I was stuck home with my Aunt on New Years Eve, discussing how homosexuality is a sickness. I mean, I love her to death but I just can’t handle much restriction.
I’m not complaining – I want to see my family, all of them yet I feel like this permanent guest and now that my grandpa won’t be there, I really don’t see the purpose. My Dad’s father passed away when I was a toddler, followed by my Mom’s mother, Dad’s mother – my last grandpa was somehow my only secret hope of having a grandparent. Don’t get me wrong, I saw my grandparents yet to have a bond and a grown-up conversation, I got to have with my grandpa only. As I grew up, I usually saw all of my friends going to their grandparents’ house, so going to Baku was somehow reconnecting with my roots, with my Baba. He passed away in 2014. I last saw him in 2013. I wanted to see him on my wedding day or for him to be able to see my family, etc. He will. Just from somewhere else – this is a good story yet for another blog post, another day.
Baku is an amazing city, beautiful and filled with so many new things to explore however I feel like another reason why I don’t want to go is because I want to visit when I’m settled and I have something to base my actions on. I want to show off of my accomplishments, I want to brag about who I am rather than being Leyla, someone’s daughter. I want to be LEYLA JAVADOVA, the lawyer, the famous blogger, politician – someone.
Would me declining the trip to Azerbaijan make me less patriotic? I hope not. I don’t know. I feel like I have disconnected yet I still have some of it’s mentality. So will I ever stop being Azerbaijani? No. Will I stop connecting? Probably.
I’m just this mutated version.