Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Lauren

My dear, dear, dear friend:

I wish there were a mailbox or inbox or cell phone or a wall to scrawl this letter on where you might receive it. I wonder if I speak the words into the Bronx River, might they return to you? I mentioned you today, and in that minute of acknowledging you, I remembered and remembered and remembered.

Lauren, I have spent hours wondering how we might feel about each other today. Taking stabs at what you might have been like as a woman in her late 20s, back in the city after years in Southern California, forever changed by the sunshine, smog, and Pacific Ocean. I have daydreamed lives for you: you driving up the coast, you in love, you serving dinners made from years of observing your mom, you working long hours with clear vision and a desire for change, you vacationing in the winters to somewhere you can tan or sail or swim. In all my dreams of you, we're always in the Bronx. You on the 6th floor on Loring Place, the same apartment where I bet your parents still live. You're listening to salsa, your hair is down, and you're always smiling. In my dreams of you, you wear a white top, your nose is pierced, and you're a late twenties version of your teenage self. And for some reason, in my dreams you are not infinitely happy. That is not to say that you're unhappy, you're just so tangibly human. You have flaws and judgments and disappointments. You are digging for your sense of self, finding history and culture in moments alone. You are like me and markedly different. You are all curls and perfect teeth. You are poetry and oil paints. You are the new Latin@ middle class, with an elite education and close to 6 figures, and you are so very serious. See, in my memories of you, you are smart and silly and young. And in my dreams of you, you are smart and serious and woman.

You make me feel a bit inadequate, a bit selfish, even. Selfish for uprooting myself, losing myself in love and art and music and daydreams. Selfish for not wanting children or marriage or even connection to family. Selfish for abandoning our kinship and wrapping myself in this world that's not you: a Queer, Brooklyn, perpetually leaning toward single and ridiculously independent world. A reality impenetrable by you, and your reality impenetrable by me. I really believe that, that I left you behind in growing into an identity so different from yours. And this is the point where I come to terms with my internalized homophobia and transphobia: the ways in which I was unable to be me with you toward the end. The phone conversations where you didn't understand what I wanted from my relationships, or my gender, or my body. You thought I was taking it for granted, and that has stuck with me. Almost nine years since those conversations: where you noted my privilege in this body (ephemeral as it has proven to be). Where you reminded me of the places where my dissatisfaction felt like choice. And what could I say then? I didn't have the knowledge I have now. I didn't have the language, the ferocity, the fierce desire to let anyone in, to be vulnerable in both of our confusion with me.

I have stopped resenting you for not understanding me. I have stopped resenting myself for not fitting into what you knew or what I should have been. I wanted us to always be kin. I wanted us to always be similar, to always understand each other and show up for each other, and just get it. And we didn't. So this is where my wondering takes me to places that make me uneasy. Would we have grown so different and closed off in our understandings of each other to have by now lost contact? Would we be strangers in this new decade? Smiling and hugging briefly over coffee one day, quietly gawking at each other's facebook profiles in judgment and not seeing each other again for another decade? Would I still be stuck in my limited view of you as a straight girl who would not accept me or understand me? As a Christian who would pray that I be saved? As the sister who did what the rest of my family did, and love only their memory of the girl I used to be and not the gender I embody or the adult I've become? Would you resent me for being so far from you through your illness? For being so scared of losing you and so scared of both of our fragility to really spend time and tears through that fight.

Or would we be something else altogether? Would we be in love with the people we've become? Would we share stories, walks in the park, lines of our poetry, jokes about where we came from, sarcasm and self-deprecating humor? Would we meet up each time we were in the neighborhood seeing our aging parents, go shopping on Fordham Road, take the bus to Co-op city to watch movies like when we were kids? Would we become each other's biggest allies? Would we be able to move beyond the places where we are just so different, and love each other unconditionally? Still talk on the phone for hours, giggle and cry and warn each other's boyfriends to be careful with our hearts because we love hard, and protect each other harder? Would we be there with ice cream and rom coms, cliches of our generation, to get through broken hearts, long days at work, and the constant harsh reality of the state of the world? Would we have learned about each other? Would we have been able to see each other, and choose each other, like we did, that first day we met, on that school bus on a hot summer morning, busing out of our hood and slowly approaching what would become the beginning of our coming of age.

Sometimes, when I regress, and find myself in the angst of being 15 and pissed off, I think of days when you and I would come home to my parents' apartment. Shut the door to my bedroom, play loud music and giggle, and you would ask me questions about boys and pretend you didn't know that I was Queer or that I had started actively pursuing my addictions. We were wrapped in hip hop, the NYC poetry scene, chatter in science classes, Julia De Burgos, and the places where our race, class and gender overlap set us apart. You were my heart, the girl I would fight fiercely for, the person whom I felt safest with, most protected by. You were my family, the mirror of my quiet sadness, the one who understood why I ached so deep, why I longed to love so hard.

I have been missing you, wondering about you, and hoping, with all that composes me and all that drives me, that we get some closure.

I love you dearly.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Dear aching body:
I have been meaning to write you for years. Wondering from time to time about our relationship. Sitting quietly in the lack of clarity, broken hearted, big quiet tears sneaking out of me. The truth is, I have learned to resent you and as I try to reconcile the reality of where we are today, I feel your pains and interpret them as war against me. And tonight I am sitting with those assumptions. Trying to listen to exactly what you're telling, trying to dig inside you/myself, for connection to us and our needs. As my right ovary throbs, and I feel my uterus thickening, and my back and legs tell me not to get up because today they can't support me, and my eyes swell with heavy reminders of my pain, exhaustion, and inability to sleep without being consumed by terrors, I fumble for words, trying my hardest to type this word, then the next. Losing my sentences after every couple of syllables, and having to rebuild each thought at least three times before I get to a full stop.

We are so unlike the self we've been taught to imagine. We are unlike the strength we've been taught to value. And I think of you, and all of the magic you've made. The things you've created, the love you've given, your softness, endurance, the ways in which you've encased me, protected me, held me and my secrets, let me feel love, taught me to digest pain, held sorrow until it subsided, so deep in my core. Housed my joys, and hopes and dreams. Housed me: the child, the teenager, the young adult, the person tangled in their Saturn return. The addict, the lover, the hellraiser, the glamour, the despair. You covered in glitter and grins and smiles, appearing to the world a pretty shell for a complex and sometimes hidden being. You hide me. No one can see me and the pain, the feeling of pushing, hands and feet pressed against my bones, grasping at one organ then the next with hard, tight fist-no one can see that. And therein lies the conflict: I feel like you're hurting me and hiding me and making it impossible for even me to see myself.

And so, how do we mend? I'm not asking for you to stop hurting, I can't ask that of you. It is unfair, unrealistic. I want to understand why, I want to understand how, I want to see you. I want you to see me. I want to learn to be kind to you, relearn how to love you, remember what it's like to be embodied, to feel powerful in you, to feel beautiful in you. I want to celebrate you, nourish you, let you be and ride with it. I want to be one with you, like we've never been. Like I've always dreamed.

I miss you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Deart heart,
You are my collection of dreams. My bits of desire. The longing in my core. I wonder as you claw out of me with a primal carnal hunger where it is you'd rather be. Who you pound out reaching for, how long until you settle back into me: your rightful place. I become your home and I wonder if my ribs, your soundproof walls, are sturdy enough to contain you. You, dear heart, pounding steady in tune with the boys and girls of our dreams, pour out onto the dancefloor, the echoing halls of the library, into the shower drain, looking for more than me. I feel like an inadequate encasement. Even the city feels too small for you. On the rush hour train you beat into strangers, lulling them on beat with the stop and go of the overfilled train, reminding them of the smallness of their selves. Heart, you love big and ache deep and sometimes I think you forget who we are. I feel you sifting through the east river, the hudson, the harlem, the atlantic ocean, atlantic avenue, fulton street, the 52 bus, my journals, my platelets, for a sense of newness, a complex and often fabricated me-ness or you-ness. You, my heart, sitting on bodega shelves, spinning in 50s washing machines on halsey street, doing pull-ups on the scaffolding on my corner, sitting on the stoop waiting for one love or another to arrive. You are the mundane ferocity of my day to day. You are the one who jumps with the amazement of turning leaves or passing seconds, or downpours that remind you of your own smallness. And you overwhelm me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


dearest brooklyn:
it's pretty interesting how fondly i think of you even when i think of making my escape. today, as i daydreamed into the mundane midday, picturing myself digging through my ancestry, standing in the power of the sun during inti raymi, i thought of you, of finding the strength of my roots on your sidewalks. of reminding my ancestors of our uprooted reality, of worshiping in bed-stuy like i might in guayaquil. i saw myself becoming; shifts i make from condors to eagles to rock doves (read: pigeons) to lose myself in commonality, in reclamation, in imagined spaces we write ourselves into.

i came of age in the bronx, making the long trip on a route the D train would suffice for to a brooklyn attic full of teenage love/passion/angst. brooklyn, you seemed so distant then. so far away, so unreal. when we were strangers to me you meant: coney island salt on my tongue, smoking weed with an amalgam of flatbush boys, bridges i had yet to learn to distinguish, and a sense of anonymity that gave me escape.

today, as i thought of my journey between homes, i envisioned myself with my tiny backpack of bare essentials, walking back onto the A train, full of new memories and reflections. and i realized that in my heart of hearts, you had become me and mine and home.

and so, i begin to write you. to think about you and even in being here, feeling a longing and nostalgia. a desire to stay. you're like a lover i don't want to see go, telling you, as i feel you pressing onto me, that i love you and miss you and dream little moments with you all the time.

there are many other things i'd like to say to you. and for now my inadequate musings will have to suffice.

all my love.