Home for Me Is an Act of Self-Reflection — Alexa Scordato
NAME Alexa Scordato
ROLE President at Frida
BIRTH CITY Los Angeles
CITIES LIVED IN New York, Tarlac, Boston, Washington DC
When did you move to the United States?
I was born in California, but from 2 months old till I was about 5 years old, I lived in the Philippines. I grew up in an Irish and Italian Catholic suburban town where there were very few minorities. I was one of them and started kindergarten with a very thick Filipino accent. Not only do I remember looking different compared to my classmates, I also sounded very different.
It became painfully obvious how much I stood out during lunch time. My mom used to pack me Filipino dishes with rice and all of my friends would have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was mortified then, but I’m so proud of my Filipino heritage now.
I think it’s funny that as a child you spend so much energy wanting to fit in, but when you grow up you spend so much energy trying to stand out. There’s so much irony in that.
How was it adjusting to the American culture?
I was an introverted self-aware kid. I watched a lot of television because I quickly realized that I needed to change the way I sounded. I wouldn’t say I was made fun of, but I just felt different. And it wasn’t in school particularly where I felt different. But my dad who I grew up with is Italian American and his entire side of family is from Queens and Brooklyn. They also have accents of their own and so the stark contrast between my mom’s Filipino side of the family and my dad’s Italian-American side of the family put me in this place where I felt like I didn’t belong to one particular side.
I think that’s something that has stayed with me even as an adult. My last name is Scordado and so people who meet me for the first time expect me to look Italian or Italian-American and then they see me and I look Asian and they are confused. I think I have always been attracted to people and places that are neither “here” nor “there”, and not “this” or “that” but very much “and” and “or”.
How do you curate your sense of belonging in the city?
It can feel tough to curate your space in a city like New York where so much is happening around you. But if you can practice being present and exist at your own pace, you’ll find that New York grounds you like no other place.
I’ve actually left New York many times. I’ve lived in Boston and Washington DC and I travel a lot. I love leaving New York but I also love coming back to it. I come back to New York because no matter where I am in my life, no matter what I am feeling, New York is a great place to examine who you are and what you want.
I lived on the Upper West Side for a long time and I still find that it changes every time I come back to it. I have walked through Central Park hundreds of times and it can feel different because of the season, who you are with, what you’re experiencing in that given moment and that’s really special. New York is like my own personal mirror.
A huge part of home for me is an act of self-reflection. It’s about curating all of these things that you’ve experienced or that you have desired and incorporating them back into the space that you occupy right now.
Is there an object that you have always carried with you?
For two years I was working remotely and spent extended periods of time visiting different cities around the world. I traveled to Mexico City, Brazil, London, Amsterdam, Croatia, Southern Spain, Denver, and California.
The entire time I had my yoga mat with me. I lived in Airbnbs and hotel rooms and every time I laid out my yoga mat, it felt like a consistent space, a physical place for me to bring myself to. I practice yoga regularly and there’s this word, Vinyāsa, which is experiencing movement through breathing. I think it’s a great metaphor for moving through the world. You take in experiences, people, ideas and culture and then you exhale — you express yourself.
It’s so interesting that I was invited to be part of this project because I am meditating on the word home currently. For about eleven years, I have had a ritual of identifying three words that are intentions for the year. I think resolutions are shortsighted, they are too goal-oriented and they often set you up to fail. So I pick three words and use them to guide my year. This year my three words are “vinyasa”, “write”, and the third one is actually “home”. I don’t know if home is a place, a feeling, or something that you can achieve any state of permanence around. I just made a big move leaving my apartment of five years and going from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn. I think there are so many questions to explore around the concept of home.
How do you make yourself feel comfortable when you’re feeling low?
I love cooking. Sometimes I make elaborate meals at mid-night because there is something about cooking that de-stresses me. I work in Marketing & Technology and every single day I use my brain and my computer and there aren’t necessarily tangible outputs to show for. Having a tactile experience whether it’s smelling an amazing summer peach or the weight of a cast iron pan is something I love. There is something amazing about cooking a meal and also having someone to share it with.
Do you have memories of your childhood home?
I have a lot of memories. The smell of markets, the smell of my grandmother’s home, the feeling of the cold marble floors beneath my feet that felt like comforting relief from the humidity. My earliest memories are of warm rain. There are really two seasons in the Philippines — rainy season and dry season. During the rainy season, you can take a shower outside. I remember running into my grandmother’s orchid garden so excited to play in what were monsoon-like showers.
A lot of my memories are also food related. My parents were busy small business owners but we ate dinner together every night. They sometimes had to go back to work afterwards, but dinnertime was sacred. My dad would have a question of the night every dinner. He would do two things — he would ask my brother and I what we learned that day and then we would have a trivia question. It would be about anything, from World War II to New York City history. It was something that was a staple in our household and something that stays with me as an adult. There is something really special for me about dining together and bringing people around a table.