The past four weeks have been one devastating catastrophe after another. Wide spread hurricanes , flooding, earthquakes, fires and mudslides and not just in the Americas and island territories but in Asia as well. Our brothers and sisters are hurting all around the world but my motherland’s pain is the heartbreaker. Both literally and figuratively the spark of my existence has been put out. My grandmothers on both sides reside in the island of Puerto Rico. My Nana, my mothers mother, lives on the west coast beach town of Isabella just a stones throw away from Aguadilla. Just the town over, or two, lives my father’s mother in Arecibo. I call her Nani (pronounced Nanny). These strong pillars of our families are in there mid 60’s and late 70’s. Fierce and as beautiful as the day their mothers bore them. But here we are heads in our hands, hearts on our sleeves, tequila in our systems (at least mine — we’ll get to my coping rituals on a later post) hoping and praying to hear from our loved ones soon. Before I get on my soap box and blame the US and The Puerto Rican Bureaucracy for there mismanagement of resources, funds, and municipal duties let’s walk down memory lane. My very first memory of Puerto Rico only exist in Polaroids and Kodak developed film (or was it Fuji?). At about 6 or 9 months old my father and my mother came to Puerto Rico to present me to the motherland like the newborn princess of Mustafa and — damn I dunno Simba’s Momma like that — did years later. They both came from humble beginnings and we’re still in a humbled state but most proud of all this baby deliciousness and embarked the voyage to La Isla Bonita. Apparently I imploded on the plane at some point but that’s neither here nor there (no matter how down you think you are be wary of thy tap water). These are pictures of us happy, jubilant & living our best bad and boujie lives. My aunt was there, my uncle, my ride or die cousin-slash-sister was there. Beautiful vibes to be had I’m sure. The next time I went wasn’t until my freshman year of college. Those in between years were definitely an identity struggle. Not white enough to fit in with the richies, not black nor hood enough to be down, and well I didn’t speak Spanish well at all so there went my ‘Wepa’ card. Still don’t speak it fluently. With many of us Nueyoricans on the mainland we don’t make it back to our mother land well into our teens or adult lives. Could be socioeconomic, hustle and bustle, who knows but unless you have close family out there or are rich, you could easily never make the pilgrimage. My grandmother moved back to retire just before I went to college. My spirit animal, my aunt, planned to visit her, peer pressured my mother to join her (RIP Titi Lilly) and so we booked our tickets to Aguadilla. My aunt and I linked brains, bought mad booze from the armory and had a fucking blast. We helped grandma cook, we ate fruit on the patio and admired the garden. We told Nana how proud we were of her hard work raising four girls on her own and retiring; buying and building the home of her dreams! I even planted a watermelon plant and by plant I mean eat watermelon and spit the seeds into the garden. It was awesome! The next time or two (it’s blurry) I went with my body guard / best guy friend. We ate, danced, swam, and strip clubbed our way through the tourist trap of the east coast. Think ‘Fuck That’s Delicious’ but instead of a fat sexy ginger rapper picture a lanky freckled foul mouthed Puerto Rican (ok a slim female Bronson) and her humble protector Sexual Chocolate (big sexy aka Shawn). Oh, and our bad ass Vietnam friend Suzy came through taking bomb ass sexy pictures. It had been a deep dark time for me leading up to that trip and my down-ass sidekick & friend lifted me up. They truly infused my soul with the real “no diggidy, no doubt baby” I’d felt for the first time in a long time. I still remember that beautiful cake said homegirl bought for me on my 25th birthday (Love you Suze!).
My island, no matter the occasion, was sweet and kind every time. And beautiful, good damn my Puerto Rico is beautiful. The most beautiful place in the world. I say that because its who I am, of course, but also because she lit af. Beautiful people, rich sites, gorgeous beaches! I love you Greece but Puerto Rico shits on your beaches (lo siento). Just saying! But the people, oh the people, they’re gems. That’s what gravitated me to the Greeks. They keep it real but they are kind, and oh are they hard working but happy to be alive. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! I mean hello, duh! That’s how they got us! Christopher Columbus exclaimed we we’re “gentle, kind, and giving savages; they will make excellent slaves and servants”, or some shit like that (don’t sue me Christopher Columbus!). And here we are! Getting slammed by “mother-nature”. Days have gone by, no word from local government or perhaps coverage is just blatantly under served. Either way, it’s a shit show. Oh and the dam broke, the goddamn dam broke. Can’t make this shit up?!?! Listen, I don’t rant much, actually I do my best to be positive and light hearted. But there’s only so much Marley and Peach Flavored Bud Limerita that can keep an enormous amount of frustration at bay. It took a whole 72 hours for just mere hints as to where my Nana could be relocated. For all I know she’s floating on a fucking door like Rose from Titanic in the middle of some murky ass road-turned-river! Hello?! Can I get a Tweet, a flare signal, a hotline that even answers?!?! We gotta do better! We gotta get as rich and as informed as the parties holding us down and holding us back. Who’s going to bring dark to light? Who’s going to restore our home? Who’s going to care about us but us? “Yo soy Boricua, pa’que tu lo sepas!” Yo soy Africana, pa’que tu lo sepas! Y yo soy humana! This can easily become “I am woman here me roar” type shit. If something’s gotta give why not us? I mean we’ve been giving ourselves away this long why not give, build, and heal ourselves. We need to lock hands and elbows to see this through. And not only Puerto Rican’s but all the diasporas and disenfranchised. Time we stop playing the game or write the rules because life is written and we are given word. Words spark action. But however easy that may seem it is truly the follow-through-game that must remain impenetrable. Becoming unapologetically and obnoxiously obsessed with our passions, our communities, our goals, and our families is the only way we’ll succeed. “Quitate tu pa’ ponerme yo!” One love ☝🏼❤️ “Quitate tu…”