When you grow up at the collision of two countries, of two cultures, of two identities, you learn very quickly the different nuances between the two cultures and you adapt to appease whichever culture you have to encounter. It makes you more observant, but of course it doesn’t occur without making mistakes and having to learn how to deal with the situation of appeasing more than one point of view at a time. If you think the social constructs and expectations of a singular culture, from even a singular city or town are rough enough to deal with, try growing up with two very distinct cultural expectations that even clash against each other on a daily basis. The languages clash, the religions clash, the politics clash, and the economies clash, but yet somehow on the borderlands you have friends, families, and lovers that exists in both worlds and that cross those borders and work with them everyday.
The border is always there, the signs are threatening to the new visitor, but to the borderland native looks at the border crossing like they would a McDonald’s sign or a neighborhood park. It’s just part of the landscape that they might use from time to time. The border in ingrained in their heads. They have a natural cultural GPS on how to act depending on which side they are on. Which language to use, which jokes to say, how much bravado or humility they should have as they walk down the street.
As one book put it best, the borderlands are the laboratory of the future. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.