Abuelita Knowledge

Today, like many days, I woke up missing my grandmother. So I decided to make myself a Honduran style breakfast. (Sadly, the refried black beans were missing since I had no fresh beans to boil available, and I don’t fucks with canned food.)

photo-2

When I think about my grandmother, food, cooking and the kitchen often come to mind. Aside from being an exceptional cook–masterful at preparing and preserving food–it was through food and her process of cooking that one got to know her more intimately. That she got to know you. Unlike my mother–whose relationship to food was that more of serviceability and functionality to ensure that her children were always fed with real and unprocessed foods–my grandmother truly enjoyed being in the kitchen.

She asked questions.

She wanted to know how you wanted your eggs scrambled–did you want one or two eggs? Wanted to know if your coffee was too black–did you want your milk warmed or cold?  Why cold? Wanted to know how many tortillas did you want–one or two? What Honduran man only eats two tortillas? Wanted to know what you wanted to eat upon your arrival to Honduras and what should she gather and prepare for your departure. What did you want to take “back home” with you?

Wanted to know. Wanted to know you.

My grandmother purchased, chucked and milled corn from fresh elotes to make her own tortillastamales and tamalitos. Sat the milk out to her own cuajada cheese. Used pineapple skin peels to make her homemade vinegar. Sliced and diced carrots, onions and jalapeños to make her own curtido/spicy relish. Rolled her tortillas out with a used, greased glass soda bottle. She would make a bowl of refried black beans (smashed with a coffee mug, at that) taste like it was the last meal you requested on earth. (Perhaps it was the pork fat grease she fried them in that also helped.)

My grandmother often laughed–seemed amused, yet intrigued and appreciative–when I would take (more like ask) for a turn in the kitchen. When I pushed (more like nudged) her out of her territory, and out onto the back porch. To have a seat or lay on the maca/hammock while I prepared her a meal. To stay still and do nothing. Not care for anyone else but herself–even if for only a moment.

I miss her greatly. Her laughter. Her small, twinkling eyes. Her sighs, and the “oopale” sound she would make when she was too hot or tired. Now that she is no longer physically present on this earth I wonder: what were her dreams? Her aspirations? Her unfilled desires? Did she know how much we/I love(d) and appreciate(d) her? Did we ask her enough questions? 

Now, more than ever, I wonder, where and how do we collect and document our abuelita funds of knowledges? Creativities? Ingenuities? Masteries? In the face of an ever shifting capitalistic, consumeristic, and technological-driven American and increasing global culture, where and how do we our abuelitas memories alive? Live on? For the next generations to come.

I’d like think my grandmother, my abuelita, was/is the source where some of my own love for food and joy of cooking derives from. (Cooking, and let’s be clear, not washing dishes).

Would I make her proud?

And I can’t help but wonder, now that she is gone, who will keep the keeper of my own dreams?

Advertisements

Home: On Returning (to a Place That Has No Return)

exxon-sign

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” —Nelson Mandela

The moment I saw the Exxon sign, I knew I had arrived. Though the gas station’s name had  since changed–its original I cannot remember–what it represented had not. I felt it. It resided in my body: inside the tissue that lined my red flesh, was written into my bone marrow, and etched its tapestry into my skin. There was no mistaking that familiar street. It beckoned and tugged at my hand, as if asking: Remember. Remember? Instantly, I became five again: my sister holding my mother’s left hand, and I, as always, her right.

As we approached Willoughby Ave, and soon Vanderbilt Street, I became that child again, expecting to see the gas station’s neon sign burning bright, beaming, like a welcome home sign.

Fifteen years had passed since we moved from Brooklyn. Unlike the many nights I crossed these streets with my mother and sister, the three of us side by side, this time I traveled alone. Well not completely alone, but rather with a who I had met on a gay hookup site only weeks before, who had a ridiculous, unidirectional crush on me. But when he heard my story, he suggested and offered me a pilgrimage ride, in his beat up white jeep, back to my roots, I accepted. I had returned–just not with them.

As he drove down Vanderbilt Street, passing through the underpass that lead onto Hall Street, my heart began beating so fast, I kept my mouth closed just in case it decided to crawl out.

I wanted to revel in this moment. Capture each scene, each second, each moment, like a photograph. But with no camera in hand, I would have to remember and rely on my memory instead.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 2.33.19 AM.png

There it stood. 83 Hall Street. The four story building I grew up in. Our 2 bedroom apartment still directly facing the park across the street, overlooking the swings and trees where Asia showed her vagina to 6 year old me–the first and last I would ever see face to face. Overlooked the monkey bars, two slides and the enormous basketball court which took up significantly more space than children’s side of the park.

picture-uh1acadfa073b4c3a87c17a45c5acef7c-ps945da3cf4277b4bdc152f02b8914e98-88-hall-st-brooklyn-ny-11205

It was during these formative years that I enjoyed a luxury I would not know of again until I moved into my first apartment. I had my very own bedroom.

We parked and remained seated in the car. The silence of strangers sat as a third passenger between us. Cushioned, desireful and curious.

My eyes shifted its gaze and focus back to 83. Traveled its length. Felt for its texture and scale. Assessed its change. But it had not. My eyes then climbed to the second floor, where our apartment had been located, but now was occupied by someone else. Some other family. Not my own. My focus then shifted and became fixated on the window that belonged to my old bedroom. The fire escape–the cold, black iron bars–still remained outside, cradling the window in its ribcage, connecting the bedroom to the kitchen adjacent to it.

I closed my eyes and attempted to remember the details of my old room: rectangular in shape and medium in size, with a singular closet, neatly tucked in the back, which held the Boogyman and all the ghosts that at night desired to play. My bed was placed right in the middle, adjacent to the window. As a child, I always feared and had a reoccurring nightmare of someone–a bald headed, pale skin man with blacked out eyes–would climb up from the fire escape and crawl inside my bedroom through this window, and do us harm. Do harm, first to me.

It was a constant fear; a fear that made me double and triple check at night that all of the windows were locked before resigning to sleep. It was too, this fear–which would follow me as an adult–of  having a bedroom next to a fire escape, or be seated in the emergency exit window seat on an airplane. The enormous responsibility of alerting others that an emergency was taking place.

The first and only emergency we had to use that fire escape for was the one time my sister lost the keys to our apartment while at school. She was a chronic misplacer of things. My mother, at work, would call us, like clockwork, every day after school at 3pm sharp to make sure that we had gotten home alright. That particular day we had not. I remember my sister having to ask her classmate and best friend, Ivan, who lived on the fourth floor with his nuclear family of four, to help us get back inside. Of course we would have been able to wait it out in his apartment, his parents and my mom being friends and all. But we feared most missing our mother-call. If we were not on the other end to receive it, her mother-fear would kick in, full gear, imagining we had been kidnapped, or worse.

I remember Ivan looking at me suspiciously, his eyebrows raised, as if asking without asking, “Why can’t José Alfredo do it? Boys should able to do this.” His eyes–like the countless the male eyes I would continuously encounter throughout my life–scanning, questioning, assessing, accusing. Scaling my maleness up and down, measuring back and forth. Eyes that have no warmth or depth, with no desired attempt to understand or empathize. The expectation and assumption that, of course, I would not be able to–rather dare to–venture out and onto the fire escape stairs. “He’s just a fag,” they said without saying.

But because Ivan had a crush on my sister, he of course would not miss the opportunity to impress her or turn this favor down. In a matter of minutes, we watched Ivan crawl out from the his apartment window, onto the black, iron bars, climb down the fire escape until landing one story below to ours. He  pressed the palm of his hands upon the kitchen window pane, until the glass gave away and lifted upwards, and allowed enough room for his body to crawl inside. He levered his legs until they were firmly anchored onto our window sill and slid effortlessly inside. From upstairs we could hear his footsteps thumping below, as he ran across our kitchen and through the living room, the sound of the front door bolt give away and unlock. His voice traveled up the stairs to us, announcing: “It’s open!”

—-

I had a twin sized bed frame, made of light and smooth pinewood. It had four posts, one for each side of its frame. On top of each post carved wooden bulbs, the size of really large apples, sat perched. Stickers of all shapes and sizes lined the bed’s headboard like soldiers. Stickers I had collected throughout the years. Whenever I was given one at school for reading the most books or for having perfect attendance, I would save it in my book bag, anxiously waiting for the school bell to ring so I could get home and place it on the headboard.

Eventually one day, my mom being upset about something I can’t remember, forced me to take them off all of. “No quiero que me dejes ni uno ahi!” The smallness of my fingers worked and searched for the in-between space between stickers, glue and wood–for removal–using my fingertips and the smooth edge of a butter knife. Gorilla-sized-tears streamed down my face at the loss.

I remember a feeling entering and lining the pit of my stomach as I watched my mother move back and forth from the refrigerator to the stove. A feeling I could then not name then but would continue to follow me throughout my life, and one day reveal its name to me.

—-

Every night, after washing dishes from that night’s dinner and before going to bed herself, my mom would make it a habit to visit my bedroom to check and ensure that I was actually asleep. With my quilto pulled up to my chin, I would quickly close my eyes as soon as I heard her footsteps traveling on and between the peach plastic kitchen floor tiles that always seemed to creak and crack no matter how much one avoided shifting their weight to avoid making noise. My mother would then pry my bedroom door open, a sliver of fluorescent kitchen light streaming inside, spilling onto my bedroom’s wooden floors in silent drifts.

Sometimes what she saw would suffice: silence and stillness. Satisfied, she would close the door and retrace her steps back to the bedroom she shared with my sister. Most of the time, however, mami would step into my room, not satisfied with just seeing the outline of my body nestled beneath and within the folds of my blanket. She needed to know. She needed confirmation.

She would gently whisper and call my pet name out into the dark: “Alfredito. Alfredito?” It was more of an assurance than a question. “Alfredito? Alfredito.” Even if I was awake, I wouldn’t dare answer her back. Afraid of being scolded or getting her upset.

The air would give in and shift. The weight of her body negotiating and compromising with the limited availability of aire that inhabited my room. She would then place the palm of her hands–never too cold, never too warm, surprisingly always cool–upon my cheek, as if checking my temperature, before residing and kissing me goodnight. Other times, she would choose one of the other pet names in arsenal: bebe, bebsito, mi niño, mi gordito, and my grandmother’s favorite: mi perrito.

—-

I was nine, my sister 10, when we moved from Brooklyn to Queens. It was during the month of November, a month known for its susceptibility to change. As the fall leaves began to adjust to new shades of color, I too faced the biggest adjustment in my life. Unlike the two-bedroom apartment we had in Brooklyn, we now shared a one bedroom apartment: my mom and sister sleeping in one bed and I in the other. Although it was a spacious bedroom, able to fit two beds side by side, I was used to having own bedroom. I was used to having my own privacy, behind the safety of a closed door with a lock that actually worked. The way my mom positioned the beds reminded me of how Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had their beds arranged on the show: distant enough to not be sleeping in the same bed, but close enough to hear the other’s breathing. It was during these years, and because we were in the same room, the ability to be reassured that we were sleeping without having to physically check in on me me in another room, is what I think my mom enjoyed most.

Years later, my sister and I decided to rearrange the bedroom as a surprise mother’s day gift. After school one day we worked hard throughout the afternoon and into the early evening to achieve this. We pushed the enormous mattress and box spring off each bed and positioned them against the wall. We dragged the heavy bureaus and bedroom furniture across every corner of the room, trying to figure out where they would look best. We finally agreed on where everything should go and eagerly waited for my mom to get home so we could show her how talented we were. We waited. We then heard her keys jiggling in the hallway and the familiar click and opening of the door lock as she entered the apartment. We hid behind the bedroom door, and giggled with excitement, as the sound of grocery bags that she was carrying were lowered onto the kitchen floor. “Niños,” she commanded–not asked. She walked into the bedroom and we yelled, “Surprise!” But the look on her face was not of excitement or of particular interest. She simply said, “I don’t like it. Change it.” And that was that. I felt crushed, to say the least.

—-

Throughout her life, my mom suffered from sleep deprivation, and once asleep, she could not be awoken or else it would take hours for her to be able to fall back to sleep. Because of this, she insisted that we all slept at the same time. That our bodies and sleep schedules would magically synchronize. With time, my mom’s senses became extremely hypersensitive. Each stir, each movement, even the slightest irregular breath from either of us, registered on her radar. If not synced, in her view, correctly, produced a reprimand. “Estate quieto.” Be still and stop moving, was a phrase so commonly used it began to be my new pet name.

We continued to share that bedroom until I became an adolescent. Once puberty kicked in, I think it finally clicked for her that we, in fact, did not have the most adequate sleeping arrangement. I began sleeping in the living room, on the thin and hard sofa bed mattress hidden inside the largest couch. It was part of a three piece, peach colored living room collection set. I remember as a child, really hating the color. Perhaps this is why I still despise the color peach or pink or any color that resembled the color of those couches. It wasn’t the same as having my own bedroom, but it would be the most privacy that I could get at that time.

My mother was chronically cheap, or what she would referred to as “carefully budgeted.” When she decided that we needed new couches she contracted one of her friends, who reupholstered for a living, to strip off the peach cotton fabric from the couches and replace them with a deep purple/lavender leather-faux material. In her mind, reupholstering would be much cheaper than actually buying new furniture. This might’ve been the case. Nut what was a “guaranteed” two month project turned into a project never completed. Instead, she faced months of unanswered phone calls and missed appointments. This led a friendship of many years to slowly but surely go sour. To ferment.

In the end, the couches ended halfway complete, with the exteriors of the arms and chest replacements installed while the back of the couches left emptied and hollow out. The foam of the cushions too remain uncovered, exposed and bare. For years, my sister and I were forced to tuck bed sheets over the naked and unfinished foam cushions, a time consuming, dreaded task that always made me late for school. At times, I did not even want to even sit on the couches, and choose instead the seating of the cold floor, so I would not be the last one to get up and have to stretch and fix that week’s assigned bed sheets that covered the cushions. Of course my mom my mother would not have any of that. “What would people think of you–of me–if they knew you were sitting on the floor! I’ll tell you what they’d think: that I did not raise you well!”

My friends would always wonder why I would not invite them over for dinner or to watch a movie. One of the reasons was because I did not want anyone finding out that I did not have my own room, but instead, slept in the living room. The second was because I was too embarrassed of them seeing the ugly, unfinished couches in our home.

Years later, when my mom and her friend ran into each other at family gatherings, they would stand around and make awkward conversation. My mother, in true Christian form, was always polite and courteous. It’s what Jesus would do, right? This happened for quite some time, until that bridge of uneasiness was finally lowered and burned. They were able to turn this misstep into a something comical, and make the “sofa crisis” the life of the party. My mother’s friend would comment how difficult it was to find the purple/lavender colored faux-leather material my mom had picked out. He would say, “You know Rosita! It has to be her way or no way!” In my mind, I would think, dude you have no idea, but would never say these words out loud, in fear of having my face smacked and smeared against the palm of her hands. My mom would then take over the comedic thread, and offer up another stitch, and explain how for years we had to cover the unfinished cushions with bed sheets, her face turning beet red as she spoke. If only my mom would’ve turned to look at my sister and me, and seen the embarrassed looks on our faces. To understand what this reveal of information meant to us. How and why was she telling everyone this?

Eventually my mother gave in, years later, and finally purchased a new set of couches–overstuffed, olive green, velvet ones. Though none had a sofa bed mattress for me to sleep on neatly tucked inside.

—-

As I sat in that white jeep, parked in front of 83, the hum of the engine rattling in its cage, I closed my eyes and pressed the back of head against the car seat. My heart began to contract, as the rush of these memories I had so long forgotten began to surface, and were asked to be reremembered. Remember. Remember?

It had been 6 months since I last saw my mother.  3 months since our last phone call. Since I had moved out of her apartment, yet again. Silence, the size of boulders, lodging gigantic-ness between us, yet neither of us budging to bridge the divide.

Tears streamed down my face, but I did not bother to wipe them away. Even during what should have been an intimate, private moment. I needed someone to bear witness. Someone, something, beside the stranger I hardly knew at my side, a person who could never understand how this moment felt or the profoundness of what it meant to return home. I needed my mother and sister by my side.

I didn’t care or bother to explain. But he took my hand into his, in an attempt to connect. He asked: “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

I removed my hand from his, as though his skin was a burning flame. Flesh ablaze. My voice escaped, and I heard myself request, “Let’s go.”

He asked: “But why? Are  you sure you want to leave? We just got here.”

Questions upon questions. He heard me, but had not listened.

“I saw what I came to see and now I am ready to go home,” I replied.

The words reverberating in my ears. As though speaking them into the night, I was convincing myself of a truth I did not fully believe.

Home: On Setting Intentions in a New Home and in a New Year

15003356_10154662518223670_557082649149587814_o

The first time I moved out on my own I was a smooth year or two out of high school. I can’t immediately recall the nitty-gritty specifics: my exact age, how my then roommate (the high school best friend whose mother also outed me out to my own mother) and I found the apartment, what the actual moving process was like, the weather or season. What I do remember were the feelings: my huevos dropping heavy with audacity and bass after announcing my departure to my mother’s face; the rush of release once the tether that anchored me to her snapped open and cut loose as I walked out through her door; and the feeling that settled at lining of my stomach’s floor in my new bedroom after the move.

For the first time in my life I felt…free.

Felt free not because I had an actual plan in place. I didn’t have a significant amount of money saved, or even a clue about what the fuck what I was going to do next. But rather, this new feeling of free—of freedom—felt new because it was a feeling foreign and unknown to me. New in my body. Having been raised by a single mother, a Pentecostal Christian immigrant woman, not only were costumbres Americanas—such as opinions, options, independence or even autonomy over my own body—not even within the purview of options available to me, they were so inaccessible and far out of reach that I did not dream, desire or long for them.

Once I finally had access to this new freedom, I did not actually know what to do with it. How to hold it. What to name it. How it felt to exist in my body. What mattered was that it was the first time in my life that I would no longer live with her. No longer be around her. No longer have to be in her presence or within the perimeters of her jurisdiction. No longer be suffocating, without breath, caving and shrinking into myself at the weight of her shadow and beneath her mother-grip.

The truth is I had no actual plan. Just heavy huevos and legs that could and did walk away.

What may be considered as important details to most often get rendered lost in my own retellings and rememberings. At 31 years of age my memory, more often than not, fails and betrays me regularly, as the people that know me best already know or have begun to discover.

“I told you I can’t eat seafood.”

“No I never met my grandfather. He died when I was three.”

“Don’t you remember I’m deathly allergic to cats?”

Enters my blank stare.

I find myself often piecing bits and pieces together in hopes to make a semblance of a full, whole memory. And when I can’t rely on myself I rely on others to stitch the gaps and fill the seams in. Help me thread a whole memory together. At first I began laughing my “forgetfulness” off as an ongoing running joke. But little did or do folks know that for me it is a joke of the cruelest kind. The kind that is frightening and paralyzing. Forgetting. I do not want to keep on forgetting. I eventually began mentioning this real reality more casually and entering it into everyday conversations in order to make it feel less scary. But the older I am becoming the more I am starting to think about it real seriously; the severity it, perhaps, one day may turn out to be.

Enters #52essays2017 and my journey this year into what #relentless writer Vanessa Mártir describes as digging into memory.

To be honest I am not sure if I actually do forget—have forgotten—these and other life-significant memories, or if my mind has selectively blocked out the difficult things that are for me to remember and reremember. Recall for the retelling and pleasure of others. Perhaps instead my mind purposely creates and recreates truncated, packaged versions of my history in order to auto-pilot-self-preserve itself. Its own way of ensuring that it, and I, now adult, have the opportunity to begin again. To begin anew.  Reconstruct and remake myself, over and over again. Be the adult-person now that my child-self needed back then.

At 31 years old I have moved a total of nine times since that first move 13 years ago. I know there have been nine moves because recently my sister made me recount each of them, teasing and asking why I moved for each, while on a long drive to Target to pick up storage bins the day after Christmas. The ride right before we had our most recent argument and fight. Perhaps as an effort to connect, she too having recently moved. Trying to connect even though she has yet to make time to visit said new apartment.

For years I’ve thought about writing about each of these homes, and the circumstances that surround their moves to and from. Map and trace them out. Sit with my grief and disappointments. String and connect them together. Make sense of them. Perhaps someday I will. But for right now just know that they happened. That there were lessons learned, growths made and stunted, pieces of me and my/self lost and gained. Each, and the conglomerate of them all together, have made me who I am today.

Fast forward.

Two months ago I moved into my new and current apartment. After two-and-a-half years of feeling physically, emotionally and financially stuck—unable to move or make a move—I finally left the semi-basement of a private home that I rented from the-Greek-landlord-from-hell. When this jackass of a landlord raised my already ridiculous rent an additional $150, despite not providing basic things like heat for the past two winters, I knew then that the Universe was pushing me out—giving me an out—and that I had to listen. When I refused and informed him that I would not pay the rent increase, he mocked me and said that I wouldn’t be able to find anything better. Two weeks later I announced that I had found something better, and that I would be moving out.

I left white-as-hell-Astoria, Queens and moved back to my roots—my home base—that is Woodside, Queens, a mini United Nations in a sea of overwhelming whiteness. I moved back to the same zip code that I grew up in and lived for a 1/3 of my life. I moved back home—not to the same literal apartment building or cross streets, but back to the same zip code and same piece of New York City concrete that comes to mind when someone asks, “Where’s home?” Back to the neighborhood where I first moved out from, untethered, with walking legs, heavy huevos and all.

A smooth two weeks after moving into the (my?) new apartment, after a night of cooking food and hosting a Friendsgiving, my apartment was broken into. He—the alleyway security cameras would later reveal—climbed up the fire escape and through the living room window I had opened the night before so the chilly night air could cool us down while my friends and I danced. I finally lived in an apartment that provided heat—though perhaps this time a little too much heat. Be careful what you wish for. He climbed through my window. A recurring nightmare I used to have as a child when we lived in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

The next morning I discovered that my laptop was stolen. I was asleep, laying naked in bed (with my ex?/exlover?/friend?) two rooms down while it happened. I spent that Sunday morning and afternoon swept in a hazy whirlwind of police questions, clouds of fingerprint dust from the investigators’ search for evidence, and the sound of strangers’ heavy feet walking in and out of my apartment. Doing their job, their lives remaining untouched and undisturbed, while my own crumbling at the seams, readied for collecting.

For weeks since then I have been unable to have a single night of restful, uninterrupted sleep. Like clockwork, around that time when the burglary took place, my body wakes itself up. I search to find my face, cheeks drowning in pools of saliva, dreams and my heartbeat suspended midair, hovering over me. Every sound that the walls to my left and right reverberates, every creak that the wooden floorboards above and below makes, I imagine have been produced by this man-who-stole-my-laptop, who has now returned, returned for more, because he knows this apartment holds more for his taking. Or is it the man from my childhood nightmare returning for me?

Each of these night I tumble out of bed groggy, heart in throat, walk through the hallway, and into the living room, assured that he, this man, too will be there. Instead I am greeted by that fire escape window in the living room, now draped and covered in curtain, standing out like a sore eye. Its firm, closed, locked-ness and silence mocking me.

Christmas came and left in a blink. Having been raised by the most pessimist, anti-holidays-yet-fanatically-spiritual Christian that I, and probably you, have ever met, holidays were and are for us like any other day of the year. Growing up we would typically get new socks and underwear—the essentials—for Christmas, a home cooked meal and Dominican cake for our birthdays. Das it. So when New Year’s Eve arrived this time around I wanted to do something. Knew that I needed to do something different. Although I already had agreed to spend the evening at a houseparty, I decide to stay at home and gift myself a meaningful gift: sit with my grief and disappointments. Map and trace them out. String and connect them together. Make sense of them. Needed to mark and remember them. Could not allow myself to, once again, forget.

I began the night by soaking in a bath and repeating prayers of forgiveness and surrender to myself. Allowing myself the space and room to finally cry and grieve. Giving myself permission to finally let go to the guilt that I was carrying and that was consuming me. Having grown up in a Christian home and church, my relationship to prayer was only one-dimensional and one-directional, directed to God, asking Him for forgiveness, but having really little to do with me.

The hardest part of this experience was not the physical loss of something so valuable. Both of my laptops before the last had been previously damaged: the first, I spilled a beer on it and the second a cup of coffee. Rather the most difficult part about this particular experience was how hard I’ve been on myself. That’s because I felt I did everything right. I stopped carrying liquids in my bookbag. I did not eat over or around the laptop. I even did the grown-person shit and got it insured, and after three years, didn’t even use that insurance because I had taken such good care of it. I was disappointed because I had let my guard and defense down. Left my side-eye, chip-on-my-shoulder, guarded, New Yorker-ness off for the night, and instead engaged in that we-are-friends-with-our-neighbors-and-leave-our-doors-and-windows-unlocked-because-we-trust-everyone-white-country-people shit.

Felt free.

Man did I feel dumb. Still do. New York and my momma taught me better.

I spent the rest of the night naked and alone, setting intentions in my new apartment. I fully swept the floors from the farthest corner in the bedroom, making my way into every room, until reaching the entrance of the apartment doorway. I then mopped the floors in the same rhythm, using the home cleaning/cleansing products my friends picked up from a local botanica in Queens after finding out what happened to me. Saged and then incensed each room, setting intentions: what I need to let go, what I want to manifest, what I want this home to be. I threw the broom and mop out. I showered again. Poured myself a glass of wine and sat down with the jar of memories I had been collecting over the past two years. I read and gave thanks to the Universe for each of them. I burned the hurtful and hateful letter my mother had written to me during the-years-of-silence, condemning me to hell for being gay, bible quotes and all, and burned it into forgiveness and with prayers for new beginnings. I spent the next hour writing intentions, saged and burned into existence. Reshifting energy. Setting intentions in my new-new apartment.

2016 be gone.

2017 come through.