Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

JL asked to marry me within five minutes of meeting. He said Haitian men have a special "ting" for Cuban women, but of course he did not believe at first I was Cuban; considering that my big fat Cuban ass might be confused for an albino beluga whale, I'm not surprised.

He told me that Haitians don't like Dominicans because they shoot people on the border. This and more in his tale of woe; a story I've heard hundreds of times from my own people and others, the story that makes Miami a special place, a confluence of hearts and desires for freedom, very much like the gulfstream -- a current that constantly pulls us out of our comfort zones unless we learn to adjust our sails and navigate in its fickle yet determined path.

He repeated "you know what I'm sayin" after each sentence, which honestly was very annoying to me, after which my thoughts drifted to Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Bolivar of the slaves, legendary leader of a horrific bloody revolution that made Haiti the first Caribbean island to strip away its shackles from the mother country; I also thought of one of the best novels ever written about Haiti -- In The Kingdom of This World, by magical realist master Alejo Carpentier, a Cuban. I wanted to see paintings by Edouard Duval-CarriƩ; I craved some spicy picklese; this is all I understood, my filter about Haiti. I didn't want to have this particular conversation; I felt awkward, very awkward, letting my high-brow Caribbean studies crap get in the way of simple communication.

JL did not know the elders who currently live in Little Haiti, whom I had interviewed in a reporter assignment, but he did tell me about internecine strife among Haitians here in Miami.

And then I realized, what a pointless conversation. This man just wants to swim up my skirt, get his feet wet in a world that doesn't let Haitians cross our borders. I'm just talking to a man who keeps telling me I have lovely eyes; in fact, he doesn't stop talking about them or his need to meet the one special love of his life, be a good husband and go to church on Sundays. "Your eyes are amazingly beautiful. Do you want to get married?" he keeps asking. This mantra he keeps repeating to me and after a while I just want to be on the beach alone.

And it's a damn shame too, because on this day, I'm swimming in the Atlantic, and the great sea is just a big lake, welcoming me to its warmth, bathing me with thick, hot sea water. I am in my element and I feel everyone deserves the right to this freedom, but not at the cost of marrying a citizen for papers, my friend. I'm not some stupid Cuban woman with a big ass who will sleep with a stranger, you know what I'm saying?

Oh hell. Even when we feel the deepest kindness, comforted by the ocean or whatever pleases us, we must still stand strong like our Lady Liberty. No matter how you look at this, here in Tancredolandia we are faced with the reality of either accepting the truth that we are one world with artificial borders and at the end of the day, we are all human. It is what it is. Compassion is something you must practice minute by minute each day and each instance will vary. Life is like the ocean, it's going to be warm and delicious one day, hard and merciless the next. So how do we in this environment, in which we are all trying to stay afloat, perpetuate the luxury of prejudice?

If we could only thank each other for teaching us lessons in patience, tolerance and love, Miami would be a better place; feeling gratitude for what irks you is a big step and one that we humans should all migrate to, regardless of our political and geographical borders. This is the true immigration problem in this country -- besides everything else.

I just wanted to celebrate independence from whatever might've been tying me down, as my friend Yvette suggested. After all, what is the meaning of independence, personally? I love me some fish and chips and British tea, but over the years freedom has been redefined. In fact, it's what we're all dealing with, every day. Did you celebrate independence well and truly yesterday? From what?

You get the picture.

And no, sir, I don't want to get married, not like this or for any crap excuses people use to tie the knot. I'll stay proudly single until I meet the right man for me.

I don't know why people open up to me, be it bullshit from a guy who wants to get laid for a green card or a person who just wants to talk; yesterday I also met a six-year old girl from Havana named Maria. She and I had a splendid time, wading in the water, yapping about the little fishes. When night fell and the tide started to rise, she took it upon herself to be responsible for me and she yelled at the top of her lungs, amid her family: "Maria, please get out of the water, the tide is rising!"

One meets amazing souls on the beach, but I'm not an impulsive woman who falls in love so easily -- with children, however, it's different -- it's easy, very easy to fall in love with children. They are what we always wanted to be, in the moment and living happily; part of the beauty of falling in love is feeling like a child all over again, isn't it?

And so unlike Narcissus who treads the dangerous waters of self-deception, I saw the truth of myself and the love of my heart reflected in the ocean -- it was a good day. Independence from everyone that ever kept me from seeing this love was what I celebrated. And today a little girl named Maria whom I barely know, who lives on the other side of the city, is probably yapping about something or other I won't ever hear about. The love remains and that's all that matters.

, , ,


Dayngr said...

That's what I'm talking about! Brilliant writing and amazingly poignant.

A Margarita said...

Ditto on what Dangyr said. Your words perfectly conveyed an emotion, a sentiment.

Balou said...

This is beautiful, honey. I'm sure that little girl is probably yapping about her new friend, Maria.

Verticus Erectus said...

The poet surfaces and breaks the water. You held your breath for a long time. Welcome back.

Maria de los Angeles said...

thanks everyone ... :-)

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

That was no Haitian, Manola! That was ME in full summer suntan mode! Just trying some lines to score some strange, y'know? For old times sake? But don't feel guilty: I didn't recognize, YOU, either. (sigh)

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful is all I can say, neighbor. Beautiful feelings, beautiful writing. Viva la independence!

Jenny! said...

That was a great glad you had that experience, you know what I'm sayin?

Andy said...

The Kingdom of this World is a wonderful book. I read it over a summer vacation in the Dominican Republic.

SuperBee said...

That. Was. Awesome. Truly awesome.

I only wish I had read it before I dumped the boy, so I'd feel less guilty about it. But having read this, now I don't. I'm free from something that irked me. :)

Stuck In FL said...

God Bless America and smart women.

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love this post........You know what I'm sayin'?