My sister Gladys, my Wonder Woman was my first thought this morning as I was brushing my teeth. She came in very clear and vivid. She looked like she use to when she was at her prime. Her auburn hair in a DA hairstyle. She was smiling and even though her lips were not moving she just said hello. I heard her voice as clear as the reflection of me in the mirror. That was all that she wanted to say. It wasn’t a bad thing and I recall that when the whole scenario ended which lasted seconds I felt happy. I can even go as far as saying a bit rejuvenated. It was then and there that I decided to get out with journal in hand and go sit on a park bench. It was time to start writing in different places so as to conjure different subjects and emotions to write about. I was waiting for the weather to get warmer and no better time than the present. Needless to say the flow on paper was effortless as 4 pages came easy. Then the thought of my sister came to mind. How after learning of her addiction and being a recovering addict myself, how lonely she must’ve felt. That if she ever got the opportunity to ever make heads or tails to all that was happening to her would have things turned out different. The many times she never allowed herself to cry. She was broken. I went back to the many times Gladys spoke to me and made sure she instilled in me to the best of her ability that what was ahead of me was going to be rough. I could only imagine how she would’ve felt had she been alive. Watching me fulfill my dreams that I have made into goals little by little. It was when I wrote the last page that I felt such a wave of calmness come over. It was at that moment I knew she was with me.
I decided to take care of my mother and father a year ago. In my one bedroom apartment I make it happen. Regardless of how unmothered I was I have accepted that mommy only gave me the best to what she knew. Now when it came to the man I call my father it is a whole different story.
I was on my way to go out. I asked him a question and as always he never answers. I told him to answer and when he did he referred to me as his stepson. When he said those words it was a huge punch in my stomach. Not only did it catch me completely by surprise but it immediately enraged me. I couldn’t even hear the last 3 sentences from his mouth after that comment. All I heard was my heartbeat like a drum in my ears. I told him I had to leave. Not to bother. With no apology from him at all I left. It was my walk to the subway that it all hit me! His behavior towards me since I was a kid. His distaste for me and the demeaning things he says to me are all his shit. It all came back to not owning your shit. It brought back the many years where I desired his approval for good grades and received none. It took me to the moments that I was ignored and left last, as if I was a burden. He brought back the moments in my childhood that he would make it his business to tell me I wasn’t good enough, that gay ppl were not meant to fall in love because it is an abomination, that I’d never amount to anything, that I’m not talented and no one would ever want to see me, hear me let alone pay for anything I do on stage. All these things ran through my mind in the span of one block.
It hurt deeply. It let me know that the child within still gets affected by him. I don’t believe a word of it but no less it still hurts porque yo no soy un mostró!!!!
Dear Future,How the fuck are ya? For the past 2 years I have been having these conversations with you and I can say I kinda like the way we have been going. At first I was utterly scared inviting you in because I just didn’t know what you were made of, what you came with. And you know I never liked those moments where unpredictability can be a major factor. But I opened up. I allowed myself to look at you and see you for exactly what you was. I want to apologize for not knowing you. For working so hard and never once putting you in the plans. When this realization came to me I must say that I had to sit with it for a minute. Like here I am working a regular job and hustling hard on the side with theater and singing and working on myself and directing and writing and producing with never once realizing that somewhere along the way you would re-introduce yourself and just nudge me to notice your presence. Then when I did I had to laugh because as with most things in life the most obvious is usually the least that I notice, like when I was a teenager and I always complained no one was interested in me but so many guys were and I was oblivious. So there you were coming to me with endless possibilities and me coming to meet you with every single excuse and fear as to why I wouldn’t talk to you or even acknowledge that you was there. Damn you sure are patient. If that was me I would of left but not you. You stood and just waited your turn. You can imagine how surprised I was when I had to end up throwing fear and doubt out whenever I sat with you and we both spoke about life, about relationships, about death, about us. I think the hardest part was reflecting who I was and who I have become and especially who I am becoming. That in order for me to be OK with you in my life I had to actually embrace all these facets of me and become willing to go for it, eyes closed and jump. It almost feels like going a blind date, you go with no expectations and always look for the best outcome. I had to keep all my insecurities at bay and I must say thank you for putting the mirror in front of my face and making me understand that I am not at all that different and that most things are attainable but that it begins with me
I have been an artists since I can remember. When I mean since I can remember I’m talking about being literally 5-6 yrs of age. Up in my room holding a hairbrush in hand, watching TV shows putting myself in the role not caring the gender either. It’s at that age that I knew i was different. To me it wasn’t a bad different. I just knew I saw things differently. I sought out different things that came to my mind instantaneously. To the outside it was considered a deficit. Un poco tocao. Not all there. Very gay. All these terms of describing me was what they would tell my mother. Mommy was far from happy. It wasn’t something she nurtured. If anything she tried her best to stifle it. A lot of it came from beatings. She beat me mercilessly. No place was safe. She had this saying- donde me la hace me la paga! Where you do is where you pay it!!! This abuse would go well into my teens. Then there was my sister.
10 years older than me and she loved me since my earliest of memories. Never a day I wasn’t hugged and kissed and loved. She was my best friend. Where ever she was at I went. Side by side, fric & frac!! She was and still is what I’ll consider to be unconditional love. No one loved me so and I miss it terribly. These past 2 years I have been able to see the fruits of my labor from the work I have done in theater. Not a day goes by that I don’t bring the love of my sister with me. If she was alive she would’ve been with me each step of the way. There would be no show she missed. She’d be super supportive.
It was Gladys that taught me to dance by stepping on her feet to mimic her steps. She made sure I knew what the beat of the drums and the conga did to your spirit when you let go. She said that it’s magic when you just let go, that your body will know where it needs to go. I trusted and music till this day is one of the very few artistic things I indulge in that when I do I don’t have a fucking care in the world. It was this lesson that made me one of the best dancers in the underground house scene in the 90’s with my dance partner for life, Liatt Tirado.
My love for music and not only the composition of it but the lyrics was my sister. All that singing and immersing in the feeling was all from my sister. She instilled all that in me. Her toughness yet love molded me. She made sure that I understood that it’s ok to love though at times it will hurt. She never sugar coated the truth from me! The way she made it known that in this life you are gonna have to fight, especially for what you love. She made sure I was not scared to put the fists up, to clap hands.
She left my life at 16.
She never got to see how I’ve developed as an artist. She never heard me sing. She never got to see me on stage and producing our life story into 3 one man shows.
You left when I was 16. I have never been the same. Has it gotten easier absolutely but not a day goes by that I don’t think or talk to you. More so this year (2016-2017) than ever. I know that you suffered when I became a junkie. It wasn’t till I got clean at 26 yrs of age that I understood that you were with me when I was out in those streets. Walking side by side with me every moment. The many times you saved me literally from death. I know now it was you that would send those complete strangers to distract me, sometimes it literally was you disguised as someone else throwing me a gem , a prayer or even chilling with me the whole night especially when I was in a neighborhood I was not familiar with.
When I got clean the shock I had when this older woman told me about you. She proceeded to tell me of all the things I went through out in them streets. Her details of me, the places and the insane conversations I had with you was confirmation that you never left my side. Shit your love for me was so maternal and close that it wasn’t till I was initiated into Ocha that you literally fell back to allow my spirit guides to enter and do their job.
You are the one thing in this world that showed me unconditional love. I don’t recall many bad times. Your decline in health was hard on you. You knew you were dying. That alone made me know that you were a whole lot stronger than even you yourself knew. You held on till the very end. It was only when your spirit said so is when you left. You never held back truths with me. Even when you could barely walk you still told me things I needed to hear. I can recall hearing you whisper to me about how I need to always keep my head up. That never allow anyone make me feel less just because they didn’t understand who I was.
I must say that for the most part I carry you with me and there is no sadness attached to it but when those rare days come and they do, when I’m caught up in it it still stings mercilessly. It chips away at my anger and keeps me hypersensitive and bitchy. It makes me realize I am human and that it’s OK for me to feel this way. 33 years later and I am still unfolding the legacy you left behind that has all to do with the inner me. Thank you sister. To me you will always be the Winder Woman to my Winder Girl.
As I wait for the bus on 125th street & Lexington (Spanish Harlem) my eyes take in the multitude of active addicts walking the streets. It conjures up a lot of feelings. I go from praying to remembering.
As a recovering addict I know that so many of these addicts, men and women, are caught in a spiral of pain and anguish. They’ve become prisoners to life’s circumstances. So many of them abused sexually, violently and verbally. As long as they stay active in their drug intake they will never know that they don’t have to carry that burden. It’s not theirs to carry.
I look at some of them and I don’t know if it’s a mutual lock of the eyes but I can see the ones that were betrayed and taken advantage of by someone that was supposed to protect them but instead were beaten and spoken to till their spirit became wingless. I can see that they cannot and will not replay any of those moments unless they are in a haze or cloud of smoke.I can see that in their eyes, in the way they speak but most importantly in how hard they do drugs. They are trying to numb out what happened to them. trying their nest to push it down very deep into Never Never Land. They don’t want to allow that pain to become tangible or overwhelming not knowing that it is fear of letting it go. Be no fool there is a fear in letting go. Even when you know it will benefit you you refuse to even ignite or give space to all that pent up hurt and anger and sadness. Those in active addiction have become best friends with their demons that it feels like they are literally letting go of an immediate family member. They have become so accustomed to that pain that it makes them feel incomplete if it’s not present.
I know this fear and pain all to well. I can remember when the pain was better than feeling the reality of what had occurred in my life at the hands of those I was supposed to love and trust and be safe with. I recall roaming those streets searching for that ultimate fill in a strangers touch or in a clique of undesirables. Trying to complete myself with something that was absolutely different than to what inflicted the pain. I ran away from me and into the arms of addiction for a very long time. As long as I felt something that wasn’t empty or hurtful then I was OK.
What I didn’t know was that I wasn’t alone. That I could survive. That there are things I can do and apply that will help me cope and forgive. Shit I would learn that I can forgive the ones that inflicted all this hurt and fear and pain. All of this ran through my mind in 20 minutes, the time it took for the bus to come. This journey has been an incredible 48 years. I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t want to repeat it but I don’t regret it.
I always noticed that look and what it meant. You know the one that men give you that lingers on your body parts that stick out or jiggle as you walk. The body parts that our parents made sure we covered. That lingering look they gave us that usually came with a slight smirk that looked innocent to others that might just glance quickly but to us it made us feel naked. These men making sure that the minute we were within their vicinity it bore into our space even if they were a few feet away. These men making sure that they were acknowledged through our uncomfortable side eye. We knew who these men were, what they wanted to become in our lives. Predatory in every way with no intention of becoming nothing more than a hurt. No more than wanting to dominate our spirit. Us, subjected to these feelings just from their stares. Our instinct telling us that their intentions will never be good. That at all costs, no matter what we are never to be alone with them. These men who usually are married, with children, hung out around our elders inner circles. We knew that they wanted to do things to us that not even their wives would allow them to do.
I grew up my whole pre-teen life with THOSE eyes on me. It made me go through body shaming, it made me want to stifle my voice so I won’t be noticed. It made me question myself and asking what I did wrong. Misconstrued my definition of trust, it confused my perception of what love was supposed to be. It put the word protection in a whole different light. These men instilled fear at an early age. They proved to me that elder men were never to be trusted. It embedded in me that men are never to be trusted when you are by yourself. It took away from self worth because if there were no states there was no love when in all truth there was no love. It made me not understand the difference between lust and love. So I tell you men all the same thing- DONT LOOK AT ME