For several years now the most curious investment has escaped me. The moment, and most notably the money, never seemed to sync, leaving me year after year in a state of wonder. However, a few weeks ago things went surprisingly smooth, and I knew the time had come. I dug subtly deep in my wallet. I bought a DNA Test.
All of this vagabonding around the globe has only intensified my cultural passions and aptitudes. So much so that since I discovered DNA testing was possible I've wanted to do one to see just how diverse my genes could be. I settled on the $100 AncestryDNA kit. I received the package in the mail, salivated into the plastic tube, mixed it with the provided “chemical”, and sent it off to science land leaving only my experience, loose genealogical knowledge, and imagination guessing as to the results. In a few weeks I would have my DNA tested against 700,000 samples taken from indigenous persons from all over the globe, all having proven regional ties for several generations. The wait began.
I consider myself at the very base a Cajun-Texan. No family event is legitimate without gumbo, and nothing tastes right without dash of spice. I inherited this honestly from my mother’s family whose often told me of those brave Frenchmen (Acadians) who departed for Nova Scotia, Canada, only to be sent down to the swamps of Louisiana. They intermarried and mingled, making a literal genealogical gumbo: French, Native American, Caucasian, Negro, Spanish, and a pinch of whatever else was around those parts.
My father hails from Virginia, which further expands the possibilities without providing many answers. I assumed because of his darker skin that his bloodline was directly from African-slave descendants, but he surprised me by saying his mother’s maiden name, Dates, is traced to Germans who immigrated to Virginia. Unfortunately, a lack of thorough genealogical research, and perhaps 400 years of slavery, make being specific a bit difficult.
This information left many questions, and pondering on my adventures and cultural experiences made the possibilities range from slightly informed to completely fantastical. My skin is brown. Africa is pretty much on board. My grandmother’s French profanities when angry (or calm) and maiden name, Arceneaux, wreak of a certain Je ne sais pas, while immediately distinguishable facial features imply further complications. My red facial hair flickers brilliantly in the sunlight, and let’s not discuss my freckles. They only seems to multiply. I’ll look like Morgan Freeman in about 30 years or so.
On the other hand I could literally be anything. DNA is so diverse and enduring. The AncestryDNA site says, “When these ancestors migrated they took their DNA with them.” I can only wonder who these people were. Why did they think it was ok to take my DNA from so far away? They vagabonded with their helixes leaving me to consider every possibility. While discussing the subject with a friend one night a group of Asians passed by.
“You could be Asian!” she said.
“Whoa..You could be right...My long lost Korean cousins,” I replied with eyes scanning for physical similarities. I could only speculate so much, but I decided to at least make a guess, and perhaps a bid for what I hoped to find:
15% French (European)
9% Native American, Spanish, Caucasian,
The one percent Brazilian comes as a result of pure hope. I met her when I was 5. She kissed me on the cheek and ignited a firestorm of Amazonian obsession which has led me to learn Brazilian Portuguese, bossa nova guitar, how to dance samba, and to be the only non-Brazilian co-founder of the Brazilian Student Association during my masters studies. Perhaps, if I get just one percent, that kiss will make sense.