The other day I came upon some old flyers from clubs that I use to go to. These flyers were during the Freestyle and 90’s house music era. The memories that are attached to these incredible exciting times of my nightlife in NYC are epic. As I started looking through them I was automatically transported to a time in my life that really had not many worries. I ate, shitted, talked and breathed dancing. I had a tribe, a group of friends that was considered family to its core. We all loved, laughed, danced, partied together. We understood each other and there was never strife like that. It was seriously magical. Till this day we are all close.
When I finished looking at the flyers, with a huge smile on my face I put them back in this box that I had them in. I put the box back in the closet. I sat on the bed and it was when I exhaled that it hit me. This feeling of awareness but pain at the same time. It didn’t make me cry but what it did do was keep me still,?just staring off with a blank stare on my face but aware of just sound. It was in that moment of stillness that the memories once again played themselves out but in fast forward mode, it was a blur but still being able to maintain the faces of us, the group, the tribe. It was in that flash of moment that I saw us as who we were broken. How we were family to each other at a time when life was just way to hard for us to bare. We helped each other at a time where self reflecting was mental suicide. We needed each other’s company so that our everyday life didn’t overwhelm us. With us as a group together there was acceptance in a silent way. There was this love that showed itself in camaraderie. Sometimes words were not even said and we just knew that together we were not going to get eaten alive from the nightmares that was our youthful life. How the music and dancing and singing healed more deeper than hugs and kisses.
This moment that lasted minutes revealed an epiphany that had attached to it a longing of brother/sisterhood. When the moment passed I knew that I was blessed. That through all the madness something greater than us as a whole had always had its hand in our lives. That we were always weaving magic even when we weren’t aware of it.
Woke up this morning in deep thought. I have been dealing with certain things for a couple of weeks and it has not only showed me the importance of people it has also put me in a place where I myself, the man, the kid has stood within and found parts of me even more. My mother to me is everything in my life. in our journey vulnerable. No one has ever embraced me unconditionally like my mother. Was she tough- YES! Was she her own person and did shit her way- FUCK YEAH! Did she make all the best decisions at all time- NO! Pero es mi madre. She gave me and my siblings anything and everything the only way she knew how and it was with a strong back hand and hard work. A little lady raising 2 boys, losing 2 daughters in her lifetime and raising a grandson can never be easy. Don’t care what anyone tells me this would kill the usual and mommy rose, fell, rose again and lived.
I started to write the personal essay on her and it got so damn real I had to stop and just breathe. Mommy I understand your choices. I understand why you did what you did! Having you live with me has let me understand that the choices you made when my siblings and I were growing up were done on what you knew. You absolutely had no love growing up. Once your mother passed away you was a burden. You were passed around to relatives and strangers hands for money and to not have to be seen. You had no one in your corner. You literally lived day to day. You were constantly on guard because men at an early age showed you they were not nice at all. You never learned to trust. I now understand why growing up it was rare for you to have friends and actually kept people at arms length. I can’t imagine your fear being so young arriving to Nueva York. Focused on making a life for yourself and vowing never to step foot in Puerto Rico. I totally get why Bacardi was your best friend. Through all that you managed to not only get a job but have your own respectable little business as a seamstress. You were beyond good. You managed to support 2 generations on your back solita. I never heard you complain. I never saw your tears when your back was against the wall.
I know you came from the era where tragedy was stuffed deep down so as not to affect you, placed somewhere where it’s forgotten. Actually to a point where it never happened. In a weird way I say thank you mi viejita. Though there are so many things of my childhood that were not good, there are so many shortcomings that I can dwell on I can say in all sincerity that you did THE BEST with what you knew and how to.
I came out a strong man, independent , hard working, responsible. Taking in how with no education at all you made a dollar out of nothing helps me continue on my path. I can accomplish it with no excuses. Thank you. Te amo mucho viejita.
I was raised catholic. My mother made sure I went through all the passages of Catholicism. I did the Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation. Through it all mommy being a devout GOD fearing woman made sure she took time to be in touch with her ancestors. Something she brought from Puerto Rico the same way the slaves did.
On Sundays is when she would open our casa. On those days she would always have me around to assist her. I would bear witness to something greater than what I believed in for my young age of 8. On these Sundays strangers would come to our home and mommy would help them. They would come from word of mouth. Mommy would sit with them and she would become a totally different person. Her speech, her diction, her tone was not the mommy I knew. I was mesmerized. Whether it was advice or massages or some concoction made from herbs mommy made sure I was present. Mommy’s specialty was children. Parents came with their newborns that had some ailments. The parents explaining to mommy that doctors couldn’t cure or the ultimatum was unacceptable. What always amazed me was before these guests came mommy would go through the ritual of waking at the frack of dawn. She’d be cleaning and singing and dancing and praying. It would end off with her talking to me of people that had yet to appear at our door. She would tell me what to get so as to be ready when they arrive. I can say that I have seen some real incredible stuff. This little lady no taller than 5’1 called mommy healed. Regardless what her week was or how she was living those Sunday’s were to heal others. She never charged either. She asked for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread but never money.
It was during these Sundays that I learned charity and hope. I learned that there was more that I can’t see then I do see. It was these Sundays that I learned our family history-we were curanderos. That from La Isla, in my blood flowed a family history. That there were cures from the simple cold to arthritis to respiratory conditions that can be cured with a candle, holy water, prayers , laying of hands and a lot of faith mixed with herbs and teas. Mommy eventually stopped when I got into my early teens not before I was taught and told about the family tree. How it came to be that I at one point will also be a curandero, un brujo.
I don’t know if it’s my age on this earth or maybe the experiences I have had to face in this life way before becoming a young man or maybe it’s entering recovery and constantly having to dig deep within but a life goal to live an AMAZING and productive life is to be authentic. It’s to be authentic to you, yourself and only you. This journey called life has to have a goal (even if your not one of those goal oriented kinda people) and it will, trust me, end with you being true to you on every level. What makes this hard is the stereotyping that society already has us under. It’s as if they already have this dumb list as to how far or how we as a person, as a culture ARE supposed to be. Please not only is it extremely limited to who we are it’s insulting as fuck. Like if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that no one would be interested in hearing my story or that because I am gay I can only be so much of a man I’d be dead already. There’s other bullshit lies that society has told me like I’ll never become a better person because I was an addict or that I’ll never find love because of my blasphemous lifestyle (this one makes me chuckle every time).
To be authentic requires digging! Not surface either, though in the beginning it will do. But eventually it will take some serious sitting down and just not being scared of what parts are you and which ones are not. It’s owning the ugly and making it either acceptable enough to work through it or just throwing it out understanding it’s not going to fit in your journey anymore. It requires lots of tears and lots and lots of forgiving. At first you’ll resist thinking certain individuals don’t deserve it but when you come to the understanding that the forgiveness of them is really for you it will be worth it all. That is one of the hardest lessons I gave had to learn and at times digest slowly was the forgiveness. How do I expect to be authentically me if I harbor and hate? I am old enough to own my shit. Can’t say that’s pleasurable all the time but if I’m to know myself it is to my utmost self care to own the kart I okay. That includes embracing my ugly, my flaws, me imperfections, my rage and my shortcomings.
There are days that the world wants to remind me where I came from. It takes me to a place that full memories of what I went through literally shake my core! It comes in waves and in full color. I can see the faces and actually the smells as well. It pisses me off! It makes it clear why I went through what I went through. It helps me make sense of why I gave my body over and over and over again thinking they would stay. Thinking that they would tell me I’m their one and only. Never realizing that I was really chasing the father that was never present. That I never had a male figure show me how to love myself. No hugs of reassurance. No “you can do it”! I feared it all and found worth outside never within.
Looking back at my youth it makes sense why I was so loud and abrasive in my teens and early 20’s. This defense mechanism that was screaming “help & hear me!” I was in fear of not being accepted. That at any moment I would be hurt physically, taken against my will because they were able to see my weakness.
I understood why I numbed myself because to feel it all would’ve found me with a switchblade to the wrists. It was way to overwhelming for me to admit that I was made a fool of, made fun of, betrayed and looked at as weird, less than and not to be heard.
I was raped and molested so many times that I thought this was how love was supposed to be. No affection, no nurturing not even kisses just primal and predatory. They not once even used sweetness in their words. I was a filthy fagot and this is what happens, this is all I was good for. It was so bad that I stopped fighting and just assumed position for there was no fight in me at all. They all hopped on, did the deed and then threatened me within an inch of my life. Each and every fucking time!!!
It’s days like this when I’m tired and I’m up against the wall that it reminds me that I survived this and I have a fucking purpose. That these stories can give hope. Not every princess marries her prince but she sure as hell can have fun looking for him without giving up her freedom to love and search. This journey every day won’t allow me to be ordinary. It holds me accountable every time I perform it, write it, speak it and share it. It helps me know that I am going to be safe and that my story and experience allows me to look into people’s eyes without fear anymore. It reminds me all the time that even though shade exists there is just as much good. Thank you to each person that live, loves and laugh through these ugly storms of memories.
It is no mystery to me that my step-dad and I are not the best of friends. Growing up I was never his favorite. He begs to tell a different story but actions speak way louder than words. He has been in my life since I was in 2 nd grade and though he stuck with my mother till present time it goes without saying that it came with a hefty price at my upbringing.
I wasn’t an easy child. I don’t think any are but add the fact that I was outspoken and gay since very young couldn’t have been easy at all. With that being said I knew in my pre-teens I wasn’t his favorite at all. I always felt like his burden because there was really nothing we as father and son shared. Once that was established he made it his business to let me know how he was against everything when it came to me. The older I became the more evident our dislike grew. Of course I had no problem letting him know vocally. When I was in high school he made it his business to tell me I wouldn’t graduate- I did! When I pursued cosmetology he said I’d never do it-I did and was actually good at it. When I became a junkie it was easy for him to fortify his belief of me all along. That I was a bad seed. That it was me being gay that solidified this turn of events.
It was when I got clean that he realized that I was not the same man that left the house to recover. He never really attempted nor wanted to know the man I had become. It took years for me to not want his approval. A simple hug to tell me all is IK. A pat on the shoulders to let me feel his reassurance. Let’s fast forward 20 yrs and now I, his least, his last on earth is now taking care of him. It is still rocky and he tells me how he doesn’t like to talk to me. Not so long ago from writing this post he told me how I was a bad person. This time around I was actually able to look at him with no pain and really see for who he is and who he has always been- miserable, scared and unloving. This is a man who never lived dreams. Never knew what it was like to be loved. He wasn’t popular and came from a family that was the same. I get it now. I fully understand. Today I am fine with who he is and accept him. Doesn’t mean I don’t ever so often set him straight but his words no longer linger on me, they no longer break me nor do they hold value. I am not the little kid that yearned and put all his eggs in a basket just to have his approval. This Negrito is quite fine. I will live and not only live but continue.
Since March 17th until April 9th I am doing a one man show where I play 2 characters. I’m play 2 brothers, they are both completely different from each. One is deceased and the one is alive. The difference in age is a little over 5 yrs and the one that is alive is the one that is on this path of discovery of not only himself but of his brother. In all actuality he never knew his baby brother.
Now I always tell my students that you are chosen for the role. When I mean by this is that the role you are to get usually reflects either where you are in life or where you are headed.
It begins to place you in the moments that will bring you a profound sense of awareness. It is from there that you begin to dig into a well of consciousness. It will hit you gradually. As the artist you will start to walk that path laid out for you.
Then this magic happens. What will happen is that you will be on that stage and the similarities will hit with what is coming out of your mouth and that moment will be come as tangible and fresh as it had just happened. It is there you let go. It is there that you become a complete vehicle. The magic is when all is done and you are in the dressing room alone. When you start decompressing. It is in there that the healing starts. It is there that you realize your comparisons. That those characters you play are the old you that has shed his skin, that they pull on the inner child that you have learned to nurture and raise up so he knows that there is a safe place. It takes you to a place of reckoning. You sit in your skin feeling every thing that you had went through when there was no solution. Then and only then does it become crystal clear that all of the pain and hurt and abuse was all part of the story for you to get to this point. No longer does your past become a crippling effect but a place of healing.