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Daily Prompt: Treasure

Treasure
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Treasure, mi tesoro, as I caress the curls that form on the crown of your head and whisper, ´´baby, it´s ok.´´

These are only words, and I have no idea if they´re true – all I have is a hope that maybe my heart can reach you, in those dark recesses that recall the betrayal committed against you by a place and a people you love so hard.

It´s not the same, I know, I had a choice.  I came to a place I already belonged except I don´t and I get that neither do you.  You belong on a long stretch of beach, under the hot sun, surrounded by white sands and the warm Carribean sea.

I´m not sure where home for me is yet.  But I know that betrayal reaches the cold, dark places in New York too.  The place I love so much didn´t exactly love me back, it didn´t see me, it didn´t want me as much as I wanted it.

Love, mi amor, as your hand creeps into mine finding the groove that you fit into perfectly.  We were never not scarred, we were always not whole.  We are here, I think, and I don´t exactly know why.

You still feel the nuzzle of that gun pressed against your head.  I don´t blame you.  Your sleep is never complete surrender, awakened by the slightest sound, you look at me while I lie next to you, breathing deeply into my slumber.

But I still feel all the hands I trusted hurting me, the phantom fingers clawing their way into my soft, warm flesh into my not yet hardened soul.  My humanity reduced to someone else´s desire, someone else´s rage, someone else´s agenda.                                               Survival meant being blissfully unaware that these trespasses into my self leave indelible marks.

Paz, my sweet, peace in your soul, peace in yourself.  Peace to rediscover the pieces of you that have been dispersed by the whims of a place and a people who did not protect or fight for your humanity.

How could they let that happen to you, to me, to this beautiful world filled with warm bodies searching for their sense of stability, their sense of self.

I will always treasure you, even in the darkest of your days, when the tears that course down your face transform into something you can´t explain.  Your hands have shown me that not all hands hurt, not all of them search to take what they can never appreciate.

Daily Prompt: Treasure

Mythical: A daily prompt

Mythical

She believed in magic.  When she was small, she remembered the coin slipping seamlessly from one hand to behind her ear in seconds. She laughed.  It was funny and yet disturbing to know she had been, unbeknownst to her, harboring a fugitive coin about the same size as her little ear.

She believed in magic when the words on a page exalted and surprised her.  When the tale of perfect Romeo and Juliet love ended in tragedy and she was left reeling with the certainty of uncertainty. When that tree that grew in Brooklyn reached her Queens bedroom and she could hide in its branches with Francie and Neeley and leave the bitter one-bedroom apartment she lived in to find delight in words, to dance with someone else’s memories.

She believed in magic when she went to university and she could get lost in thoughts and ideas and words. She read and felt and digested and coughed up half truths and experiences that her fledling adulthood could not yet carry but it was the stuff that fed her.

She still believed in magic when she met him one night in drunken revelry somewhere in the middle of the country after a day and a half train ride to the mouth of a dirty river. How could it be that a coincidence so perfect could be so wrong? – but she didn´t know that yet – she knew it was mythical in that sweaty swamp in February when she looked at her shoe and noticed the snow salt still stuck to it, a remnant of a far-away city and far-away life.

Magic brought him to her in the city that never sleeps and gave her the way out of a crazy woman´s unstable world and into her own.  The christmas tree he pushed her into wasn´t magic though, it fell and gave way unleashing tiny balls of glass which broke into shards that stayed in her feet for weeks.

Nights and fights with broken promises, broken words, broken bottles and lamps overturned and that magic was harder to find.  She had always been hopeful but the years caught up to her and harder realities unleashed harsher truths that couldn´t be run from, not anymore. Maybe that was magic, but she didn´t know it then.

She had to save herself and getting lost in clouds and crowds didn´t stop the world from turning, her from turning, her bitterness into something that could be hopeful. To find the magic in tragedy, to let her Romeo die so she could live on.

So she came to the land where magical realism was born, where biographies and myths are one and the same and the only way to get it is to be it, immerse herself from top to bottom with the idea that there is no understanding the “is” of our existence.

The magic comes with responsibility now, it forces her to look, but not too closely, to trust in her heart and move even when the earth is quaking and her soul shaking.  The secret to the mythmaxresdefault is knowing she will find it, even when everything in her tells her it is lost in this too big world.

via Daily Prompt: Mythical

Colada Morada y Guaguas de Pan: Death and Life and Birthdays

guaguasdepan5

Destiny:

I

I was born on Halloween, the cold end to the month of October, where identities are disguised to confuse the dead among the living.

I loved to shuffle through the brown leaves that littered my Sunnyside sidewalk.  They crunch under the weight of a shoe that finds piles of them just to hear the sound.  The nearly bare trees they come from, releasing their life into colors of sunsets, from green to golden, auburn to scarlet until finally brown, dangling in a breeze that will eventually flutter them to the ground.

Nature had a way of reminding me of yet another year of my life, the dying leaves, the shorter days, the colder air as I found thicker sweaters instead of taking out my winter coat, reserved for ´´fuck it´s cold´´ December.

II

Here in Cuenca, it is Colada Morada y guaguas de pan advertised in almost every food-serving storefront that herald my coming year.  Colada Morada, a berry and pineapple-spiced punch served warm and reminiscent of a compote, thick and sweet, served with a bread baby.  I thought guaguas were buses, but then I came here and they were transformed into children. A face of icing, a small head on an elongated baked body, they aren´t very good, but hey I need a new tradition here.  I still miss pumpkin pies and pumpkin-spiced lattees though.

I learned this week that the Colada Morada represents death, the purple dye given up by the blackberries and strawberries swirling in the drink is to be served with the life of a newborn, in the form of the bread eaten slowly in between sips of the steaming and sweet colada.  I start with the body, biting into the head just never appealed to me.

Journey: 

I

Born to a mother that was anything but, I often tried to rationalize her, make her seem more like me, or the me I want to be.  Stuck somewhere between actions and words, I couldn´t fathom what it was like to hurt someone like that, someone you professed so often to love so much.

It was somewhere between bendiciones that embarrassed me on the school yard and rages that left welts on my soft, developing body and soul, that I learned to avert her when I wasn´t downright defying her.  Quick-tongued as I´ve always been, words that are too often too fast and too cruel, those I inherited instead of culture, instead of family.  Alone, I don´t think much about it, instinctually I defend, primarily myself from attacks real or imagined.

It took a while for me to realize that the attacks were what I was looking for.  I know how to immediately assume a defensive stance and can turn to offense in the blink of an eye.

I´m really good at it.

II

I was in a relationship for far too long, with a man who knew how and when to best attack me. From hands to words and back again, it was his inability to see the hurt that got to me. That was my mom all over again, bathing a little me in the apartment´s tub and asking me where I got all those bruises from.  When I reminded her, it was because ´´lo mereciste.´´  I learned early that hurting was my own fault and not important enough to the attacker to remember.

Crying in this man´s apartment´s shower when I saw the familiar purple blooms on my shoulders and arms, products of drinking too hard or fighting too long – not knowing when to stop either with the booze or the abuse.  Lo merecí.

They were both always so careful not to touch the face.  That would have been too much I think.

III

Here in Cuenca, leaving the past behind, I´ve had no choice but to confront.  In a country of borrowed memories, most so painful to share, I have no idea what they are, there is nowhere else to go.  I came here alone, not knowing what I was looking for, nor what I would find.  I just couldn´t stay there anymore, I couldn´t take what I already knew, I couldn´t face another day of invented realities whose only purpose was to shadow the truth.  I´ve had to invent a connection, because my mom had always denied me one, to her, my father, my family, my culture.  She taught me to be alone.

Truth: 

I´ve got to heal myself, by myself, there is no other way.  There is no magic potion, no mamá, hermana, tía, abuelita or even prima to save me from myself – to show me the road, to guide me to happiness – to salvation.  I´ve had to find those people, and god/the gods/fate/faith/nature/the universe,  whatever undeniable force there is, has planted them in front of me, unwavering.  Versions of myself I can choose to be.

I´ve lost everything tangible, everything I bought or was gifted to me by my dad, all of it stolen by said ex-boyfriend. I thought that shit was important to me.  But if that was the cost of my leaving, it was cheap.  I needed to leave in order to find my strength which still falters a bit too much for my liking.  I see the pendejadas I commit, even before they happen.  But now I can name them.  I see myself seeking closeness and intimacy with those I should run from and it brings me back to the point where I had no other choice.

Lo merezco…I am choice-ful now, if not yet whole.  I rejoice in that.  I have to start over and let go and start over again.  Piece by piece I need to build even if what I build falls from its own weight, because if I don´t, who will?  I have to reconstruct which inevitably means I have to construct.

But maybe that is my destiny as a Halloween guagua.  I was meant to confuse the dead from the living.  I need to peek under disguises, most notably my own.  I miss the changing foliage and the crunch under my shoe.  And I will inevitably miss the girl I defended so hard, but she needs to be a woman now.

Bludgeon

I smell of smoke

I smell of smoke, of a fire that died hours ago, of the ashes that remain.

The taste of its thickness, of it billowing up, consuming the way that fire and smoke does, singeing tenderness and holding the air still with its very being.

I feel its warmth on a cold night, the waves of heat that escape and find me near, holding my clothes, my flesh, my attention hostage.

I see the flare of a fire that dies slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, little by little exhausting its reserve of energy. Still bright red under the charred black of its own death.

I hear the sound of the cracking, of the giving way to nature´s desire.  Of the integrity of the wholeness that is swallowed by want, by desire, by need.

I smell of smoke and survival.  I bear the remnant of my last battle.  The scent and the being it clings to saved.

I smell of smoke and wish I´d never seen the fire.  But I would´ve burned.

Clouds: a daily prompt

I am closer to the sky here, I worship the sun as did my forefathers, clouds are but the dusting of feathery glory on a world within reach.  My mountains catapault me to the point where an outstretched hand touches a wispy dream of a cloud, almost.

Elevation makes the air thinner and I only notice this when I´m in the middle of another interminable staircase and while the legs are willing, the lungs are begging for another sweet breath.  Maybe it´s because I´m breathing in the sky, inhaling the blue, then bright white and gray and yet never enough to fill the gaps in my chest that leave me longing for more.

The perfect imperfection of a blue sky dotted with fluffy white vapors of air caught in formation because how else do you traverse the immensity of the upper universe, but together, holding hands?  Rolling dark in the impending storm, beseeching me to take cover, unleashing their cargo and then reforming into puffs of sweet cotton seemingly just to remind me that storms always pass.

Reflecting the colors of a perfect sunset, pink, orange, later purplish-blue, the Andean clouds or rather a petulant child, reluctant to give in to the respite of a long night, turning colors into protest for once darkness hits it´s harder to notice her, best to make the world see her glory now.

As if to clothe myself in the finest silk to radiate the warmth of the sun, the stillness of a storm yet to come, the prophecy and the revelation at once, to stretch and grow and change and reflect, I can be it.  Closer to the sky here, in Cuenca, then I ever was in NYC even on top of the tallest skyscraper. My hands could never reach the heights of glory and it took that letting go, the release of the terrestrial, the everyday moments so far from bliss, to rename home as a place of beauty reflected rather than scorn multiplied, to float away letting the winds carry me and finding my place in the infinity of possibilities.
Clouds

Connected: a daily prompt

The thread, the thinnest material between your heart and mine, your skin and mine, your mind and mine…I heard that snap, my thread simply cannot bear that weight, the guilt, the anger, the worry.  I never should have tried.  The thread never really existed, it was never really built. There was you and there is me. Sweet disconnect.

There is another way.  The rope between me and them, a bear fighting all odds to find hers – the woods forboding, cold, uncaring, have to give way, she won´t leave them in peace if they don´t.  She is a fighter, and there is nothing more inspiring than a good fight, this is it.

A woman in a foreign land is a force to be reckoned with, in case you didn´t already know. She has connected to herself in the most integral way possible.  She has become that version of herself that could never exist in your house, under your rules, consuming your food, she couldn´t be, because you wouldn´t let her.  She just survived the carelessness of words hurled to hurt, the pain of hands that should´ve carressed that did anything but, and now to connect to the exquisite delicate touch and words found here, never there.

Survival is one thing, thriving is quite another and the connection between her and success started out tenuous, just to get the momentum right, to build on itself, braid its pieces together, stronger than before because there are bridges to build and bridges to burn.  And she knows that now, more than ever, the bridges burnt mean just as much as those built.  The relief of watching ashes gather where there was no life, to end the cruelty of a cycle of defense, to be free of that which never constructed, only destroyed.  She decides now, with full mind and glory that which she builds.  The invisible strands that stacked together are stronger than anything she could have imagined.  The support from people, some half a world away who would do almost anything to comfort and soothe, the same people she hid her life from because of shame, because of doubt.  That glorious moment when the sun radiated its light beyond  your shadow of abuse, and discovered her standing there, unafraid!

The nothing that forms into something, the connection between her world and THE WORLD growing stronger all the time, all before that thread snapped.  The ropes and chains that have formed in the interim, the knowing that anything is possible. Disconnection that leads to ultimate salvation and to connect again, herself, herself and all that it entails, to appreciate beauty, hers and that of those around her, the mountains, the air, the breath that rouses her from peaceful sleep to confront the world of choices with love. Simply delicious this connection born from disconnection.

Connected

Brick me up

 

e4768979ad5dc46707c21b906a1f3641Somedays the mood just hits and a song, not in its entirety, mind you, usually just the chorus, permeates my existence, becomes my theme song and I star in my very own music video watched by no one but of course, felt so deeply by me.

Mine today? Brick House cause I am mighty mighty.  Or at least for the next couple of hours,  I am.  Making coffee and letting it all hang out, grocery shopping and I ain´t holding nothing back.

Cuenca is not New York, so walking around with my headphones at full blast is not the best idea, which, of course, inhibits the dance moves I bust when no one is looking.  But my theme songs still follow me around, in English, of course. In this still new, still adapting to it, environment, I just have to keep solidifying who I am – all the time.  And I am usually a triple threat: today it´s singer/dancer/actor. Yesterday, I think it was a writer/dreamer/adventurer.  Tomorrow it´s guide/interpreter/fixer.  After that, who knows, but today I am a brick house.

Brick

To my best friend, on her birthday

Happy Birthday, Sweetie,

You would have been 37 today and we would have had an amazing time. We always had fun, no? Even if it was just a train ride home.  We made each other laugh over nothing and you knew me, probably better than anyone else.

Thank you for choosing me, my friend, for seeing that 7 year old in the park clumsily playing basketball by herself and approaching.  I know that must have been hard for you, you were never the first one to speak, though you always had the most interesting things to say.

Thank you for taking care of me and my feelings for decades.  Thank you for always being prepared, with a sandwich, $5, a hello kitty imprinted tissue, an umbrella. You always covered my head before yours, because that’s who you were: generous and loyal, loving and beautiful. Thank you for being a part of my life for so long, for never forgetting me, for listening to me and for your advice, your sweetness.

Facebook notified me it was your birthday today, like I needed a reminder, like I could ever forget the 16th of May, even without you here.  You´re still on my Gchat, too, and sometimes I just wanna click on your name and tell you everything, but I think you already know.

You’ve never not known about the important and the trivial things in my life.  Remember our Thursday night dinners, I loved those!  You always found the best, most exotic places and you always insisted on paying, even if it was your birthday.  As if I could let you? Those tacos at Chelsea Market were fantastic, that pho, you know which one, the *kfc* or the bahn mi we ate on the bus from Boston. Remember the Muse concert? I never thought you could look happier, I think I was there just to see that huge smile take over your face.

I think you would have been here with me, either on my birthday or yours, I think we would have had a great meal and some better drinks and laughed and talked about what the hell we were doing with our lives.  You always made me smile, you always had a way of explaining things.  I was always happy to be around you.

So, to my best friend on her 37th birthday, I love you, I will always love you.  You have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I don’t need to tell you what’s been going on, you already know from that part of you that always knew me.  I just wanted to say thank you for being my sister, my friend, my conspirator, my ally, my rock.  There are no good-byes baby girl, just a see you later, and I would say save me a seat but I know you already have.

 

 

 

Survival: A daily prompt

She wakes up in a bed, not her own, in a rented apartment, surrounded by someone else’s sheets and covers.  There might be a story in that bedding, the blanket that was in the closet that held other bodies before it swaddled her own sleeping, vulnerable, one. Maybe there is, but the only story that matters now is hers.

Breath in and out, eyes adjusting to sunlight, forsaking warmth for movement, she gets up, extends limbs to floor and balances her soul somewhere in the middle.  The nourishment she takes from the bounty of this earth is parcelled per dollar.  The apartment she rents is a sanctuary for as long as the fates and her budget allow.

Leaving her room, remembering keys, cellphone, wallet, and the identification that means more than her own testimony of who she is and where she’s from.  A static picture, taken somewhere else on another day is the only proof of her belonging to the here and now.  There is always a mission – stability – not a guarantee, just a momentary reprieve so she can focus her energies.

The legs that carry her, the heart pumping her blood, the air received and transformed by her lungs into something usable, something necessary.  That is all there is when she’s out there looking for a way to connect to a society that doles out necessities, that capitalizes on thirst, that monetizes comfort.

She gets to her job.  A system learned, devised to keep track of time, money gained or lost, numbers that mean infinitely more to those – those who couldn’t be burdened with the banalities of inputting them, translating them, putting them in arbitrary order – than to her.  She fights sleep, the temptation to be outside, the desire to spend her time rationalizing her own minutes and hours, her own profits and losses.

Four hours down, 4 more to go as she steps out again, this time for 60 minutes.  The hour and the amount of time decided by someone else who must have gotten hungry and satisfied his need from exactly 1pm – 2pm everyday. She eats the almuerzo, the $2.50 respite of juice, soup, rice and meat.  She makes conversation with others who, also aware of the limits of time, are all in this small restaurant together, distance already calculated, rate of receival and ingestion already known.  10 minutes left to hurriedly walk back, to be bored again by someone else’s problems.

The day ends at 6pm. Picking up the bags of potatoes and mote, avocados and onions, $1 each to take them home.  We need to eat, she thinks, as she chooses the smaller bag, the 50 cent one, today – tomorrow is another day, another decision, another opportunity.  The other shoppers making similar mental trades, deciding that tonight’s meat is probably not worth tomorrow’s eggs.

Back home she prepares, peels, washes and cooks.  She eats what she has made when it is ready, the first self-realizing decision she makes today, the only one that satisfies her. She chooses what to watch from a pre-selected array of movies and shows that deign to make it to her corner of the world.

Sleep, in the covers bought with somone else in mind, but momentarily hers, and peacefully she counts out the time she has left to make decisions that may just change her life.

She survived another day.

Survival
 

 

Shake

imageI’ve never liked martinis, too real, too much to the point that you are drinking. I have the tastes of a 19-year old, sweet, juicy and definitely not alcohol colored. If you’re buying, these include but are not limited to: mojitos, bellinis, mimosas, grey goose and cranberry, or concoctions that my favorite bartenders would make, invariably pink. If we’re talking tequila shots, then yes please, with a small coke.

I often wake up in a bad mood (it wanes somewhere around 10am). A ringing alarm clock is the worst sound in the world; that incessant buzzing that sneaks into your slumber to rouse you to the reality that there is a job and you should be there, if you like living in your place or eating.  I happen to like both these things, sometimes more than sleep.

I prefer fiction to the news. You can paint pretty pictures with words if they’re not too real. Too much of the dirt and grime of life and it becomes the world we are forced to comply with. The god-made, man-made, natural and unnatural disasters that may just happen to someone you know, someone you love.

I dress in black because color coordinating would ruin my perfected 10 minutes then out the door routine. I don’t wear make up because men don’t have to and I constantly touch my face.

Shake.

I am here in this space, this place, so different from what I know. The streets are not the same, perils I never thought to perceive all around. Hearts broken in a million ways I never knew how, and in the interim a sweet cascade of exquisite beauty that is even more divine simply because of the contrast. Fear should be the first emotion, fear of being in a place not mine, in a life not yet assumed. But I am not scared, I am holding on to the threads of my existence by sheer will alone. And I feel strong. I couldn’t lie to myself any longer, believe in a life that only ever existed in my thoughts. So I came here, a world that only ever existed in borrowed memories.

Shake.

The blind, elderly woman on the top of the stairs, positioned exactly where I want to stop and take a breath, and her voice, her weak, eaten-by-despair, voice asking for change I haven’t got today.  I look at the old woman and genuinely wish her a good morning, hoping that words can reach the universe and spare her if only for today.

The dirty street dogs with faces still full of trust as they follow from street corner to street corner with the hope that the kissing sounds I make to them are quickly followed by food. They like bread, especially the bread I buy at night for breakfast.

I witnessed cancer take my best friend away and I know that life is meant to be shared. I’ve assumed her courage, because my god was she ever courageous, even before the disease. We were young together, once. I know she would have enjoyed the shit out of my exit from New York.

Shake.

The changing clouds form the backdrop for the Andes outside my window, just beyond the limit of my vision. The gentle drizzle that transforms into downpours are erased by the warmth of the sun. Like tears dried by warm winds caressing your face. The children laughing and screaming, surprisingly , their hair in perfect order, smelling of tropical fruits.  Those kids who kiss me on the cheek after class and wish me a good day. Their pencils always lying in wait for the words of English their parents tell them are important. The hope that education saves, because it can.

Shake.

The alarm will ring again tomorrow, survival hinged on my awakening and being in places dressed in black and still not wearing make-up. I’ll read another book on the bus or in between jobs, a novel, most definitely and I’ll avoid the newspapers that have reality splayed on the front page, sometimes with blood (newspapers are gory here). I’ll buy my meat at the market, and ignore the overwhelming feeling I should be a vegetarian, and you should probably still not speak to me until 10am anyway.

When I get a cocktail this week it will definitely be pink, sweet and not at all reminiscent of the alcohol in it. A tequila shot will follow with a silent toast to the heart-breaking, the mystical, the real and romanticized, the grit and the glory.