I’ve been postponing this for weeks, months depending on how hard you want to judge me. I kept a fairly consistent journal as a preteen, but for whatever reason it’s been difficult for me to commit to one since then. I tried beginning one when I took a month-long trip to my family’s home country after eleven years of separation. An inspirational journey to rediscover my roots. To reconnect with my people. All I needed to do was write a log for my future grandchildren to read, maybe assist them with their inevitable experiences and confusion in understanding their cultural identity? Sure. I wrote half an entry.
A few nights ago, I went out with my new roommate who is here in the DC metropolitan area from Chicago, in school for a Masters in Journalism. I told her I wanted to be a writer, what should I do? Her half-drunken eyes smirked at me and told me, “Just write.” So here I am narrating the thoughts I’ve had over and over for the past two years. What next? There’s so much to say about what I yearn to discover about myself and my story, but I will try. I will write about my destiny, although I’m still not sure what it is. I’ll introduce you to my history as I also reacquaint myself with ancestral knowledge I can feel but don’t know myself. I’ll invite you into the spaces and places I inhabit and tell the story of how they have shaped my life.
My name is Kimberly. From what I have read from various magnets and bookmarks from years of trivial gifts and prizes, it roughly translates to ‘woodland clearing’ having originated from England. I also know from basic Google research that a place in South Africa also shares my name. My last name is Conchada, a more obvious connection to the word ‘concha’ meaning seashell in various Romance languages. The spelling with a ‘d’ instead of a ‘t’ connotes that it is most likely a Portuguese name and not a Spanish one. European is definitely not the first thing I’d use to describe myself, although I suppose I could bore you by tracing back for a few generations. Don’t worry, I will eventually… in a future post. I’m not South African either, and I doubt any of my ancestors were from Portuguese-speaking Latin America. I’m actually a young American girl, born and raised in California. My parents were both born and raised in Tagalog regions of the Philippines. Aside from my fascination with world languages, I don’t speak Portuguese, I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t speak Tagalog, and sometimes I question whether or not I can actually speak English. I studied German for a little over four years, although I don’t believe I could hold a normal conversation in that language either. I’ve also failed at studying and learning Japanese, French, and American sign language. Nice to meet you, my name is Kimberly Conchada from California, and I only speak English. Go figure. You can call me Kim, if that subconsciously makes you like me more.
So, why on earth have I rambled for a blog-and-a-half about languages, you ask? I’m not quite sure. But I do know that a name is a powerful thing. And words are little treasures of history and power whether or not we recognize them as such. There are so many ways in which you could dissect my name, study the parts that make up the whole: where did this part come from, and how does this part complement that part in this way? Why? So many different parts of my name found its origins from so many different spaces and places in the world. I guess in the same way, this idea reflects my person. Chop it up. Dissect this part and that part. There is so much to discover in a name. There is so much to discover in a place. There is much to discover in my person.
This is the beginning of my journey. Understanding how the name I was given or the place I was born has shaped my destiny in peculiar ways are just two parts in it. As for now, feel free to join me in my attempt to find my insides. Eventually, I hope you can sit down one day and attempt to do the same for yourself.