A Party

A Party

I dreamt of

Toiling and frolicking in the sun

Together

I dreamt of us

Around the table

Eating the fruits of our labor

Leafy greens massaged with marinade

Inviting mangoes sliced

And plantains sweet

To the party.

I dreamt of

Brown faces.

Smiling with mouths open

I couldn’t hear the words.

I didn’t need to

Because

I dreamt

Of our future.

Diving

Diving

“We never forgot about you.”

“We came looking for you.”

“And we found you.”

I heard those words in a video around 1:30am. I had one blank page left in a brown leather bound journal on my side table. I wrote those words down because I never want to forget them.

They had meaning. It was life-giving.

It was spoken by a diver. She is a member of a group: Diving with a Purpose. Their mission is to deep dive into oceans on the hunt for shipwrecked vessels that once held captive Africans. They teach people how to measure the ship, collect vital information and preserve history. These men and women, many of whom are Black, feel compelled to learn to dive, become guardians of history to find us.

Those who never made it.

Those who chose the sea.

I wept a little as I watched. Their resolve was clear. Their bravery and curiosity stoked flames in me.

What will I deep dive for?

What will I fight to preserve?

What will I not let slide anymore, desperate to believe he or she or they “didn’t really mean it?”

What is my battle cry?

What will I live for?

What am I willing to die for?

I may never bear children.

But that does not mean I will not have legacy.

It does not mean

I will never give birth

These words

I believe in their power.

And they come from

Me.

 

 

 

We do this.

We do this.

One time

We made love

To classical music

And we laughed

After we caught

Our breath

We asked

Who does this?

We do.

We do this.

We found a scene

From a movie

I was the coy but sexy temptress waiting at the bar.

He was a local boy looking for local trouble.

And we clumsily became actors.

We laughed.

Who does this?

We do.

We do this.

When my skin fell apart and I often left traces  of my pretty brown on the bathroom floor, in the sheets and on the furniture, he undressed me, applied salve all over my body–back, arms, neck, breasts, legs, ears and told me he wished he could take it all away from me.

And I asked

Who does this?

He does.

He does this.

He does Love.

 

It’s Called Anger

It’s Called Anger

When I punch the air

Why doesn’t it land?

I need something to connect

With my fist

Maybe it would ease the burn

In my chest

Cool it down

That’s too much, Kristina.

Why are you like this?

I am like this because I am sure I swallowed the white supremacy that I was force fed.

I cannot even face all of the slop that I have had to regurgitate.

Instead of the Black excellence

I’ve identified as Christian

And today I heard one refer to their privilege

As “White Blessings”

I hope you choke on it and it goes down like serrated knives

I am like this because my niece is scared for my life.

My life.

I want to tell her it’s not true. Her fear is completely irrational.

But I promised to be a truth teller.

I hate watching children protest

Not because of their awareness.

But because they are supposed to revel in their innocence.

It was NEVER supposed to be their turn to march about strange fruit.

I hate that I know there are other Black people whose ancestors were not born in Amerikkka and don’t recognize their Blackness.

You are BLACK.

You are BLACK.

You are Blackity BLACK BLACK.

Your first language, your gorgeous accent, your work ethic and your degrees WILL NOT SAVE YOU.

It is not a shield.

Wake up from your slumber

Your BLACKNESS burns

So damned bright.

Don’t be afraid.

Don’t believe what they told you.

AND I SHOUT THIS

As a Haitian-American woman.

You can own your BLACKNESS and your culture. They can live in the same place.

They have to.

We were enslaved and colonized

A world apart.

Don’t forget it.

We are cousins.

And I hate that I know there are those whose ancestors were enslaved in Amerikkka but are terrified of change and don’t want to rock the boat

And because of your fear, you spout tired and false claims about Black on Black crime and won’t look your Brothers and Sisters in the eye.

The flames in my chest that roar

The melancholy that invades

Because all who are lost will not be found.

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Black Self

My Black self is a whole human being

Who wants to celebrate other Black people

Who wants to binge on Black everything

I crave Black expression.

Who wants to sit on my damn couch eating banana bread

My Whole Black husband baked.

My Black self

Took a walk this morning

Made sure I stared right into the eyes of two Black men walking in our neighborhood and shouted a robust

“Good morning!”

And what I hoped I said was “I see you!”

My Black self cried and checked on friends.

I ignored the deafening silence today from people who should have been screaming all along.

And those who proclaimed “This is how you protest.”

My Whole Black spirit wrestles with defeat when I think of Black businesses who may never open again and Black people

Who will never breathe again.

My Whole Black self will pray, make love to my Whole Black husband and fall asleep

Wake up

In a rage

And do it all over again.

 

 

 

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

This weekend I watched “Star Wars” for the first time. I don’t shun sci-fi at all but I was never drawn to that particular franchise (I grew up in a Star Trek household). I may not have fallen in love with it but I tried to see it through my husband’s eyes. He was a child when it came out so while the technology and the acting made me cringe at times, he must have seen nothing but magic and heroes stretch the fabric of reality and his budding imagination.

It was a sweet reminder of the power of nostalgia. I can instantly connect to how I felt  jumping rope in my cousin’s backyard on Long Island, pouring over the pages of “The Baby-sitters’ Club” books, dancing to Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul in our living room and watching with bated breath to see if Whitley and Dwayne were finally going to get together on “A Different World.”

I love that I don’t care if any of it was perfect. I didn’t want flawless. I wanted fun. I didn’t know it then but all I needed was simplicity. Laughing hard until the breath sputters and there is guffawing. Pumping the volume up to dance and sweat. Turning the pages, losing myself in hours of uncomplicated storyline.

I hope to reconnect with more of that..the simplicity. Fondly remembering what was is beautiful but being able to carry its essence with me now–in the present moment–is priceless.

 

Winning?

Winning?

I had a conversation yesterday. Let me be real. A therapy session yesterday.

I talked.

About lots of issues. Family. My own marriage. A need for me to let go of the things I cannot or should not always control. My lack of trust and faith in others. I am not sleeping full nights.

And I kept talking.

About all the “shoulding” I have done during the quarantine these last couple of months. I should have written more and read more than 4 books. Did I watch all of the revolutionary interviews and experience all of these mind-blowing Verzus battles live? Did I watch all the shows? How about getting back into perfecting burpees to return back to the shape I was in at Strongman competition time? Shouldn’t I take more than just the one writing class? What about daily walks? All of those people in this motivational FB group are going live, talking about their insecurities and constantly interviewing for podcasts… should I be in this mix? Did I donate enough? Did I contact everyone for Mother’s Day? How about starting an indoor garden? But oh wait!  I did learn to play poker and I am working with Hubby on this 1000-piece puzzle and I continue to work from home.

Then I stopped talking.

It was pointed out that I was listing goals, checking off imaginary boxes, obsessing over what the next few months may bring (financially and otherwise) and whether I am doing enough right now in order to do what?

She observed all these mental gymnastics I was performing were not just in order to keep up with family, friends, stay distracted, entertained and to make a living but I was acting as if any of these things were going to change what’s going on “out there.”

As if any of these things were going to make me “win the quarantine.”

As if I accomplish all of these things, come out on the other side with a stunning body, a thick and voluminous curly afro, a couple of manuscripts ready to pitch and new languages acquired, I will change the reality of what’s out there.

A scary pandemic, conflicting opinions, no answers as to when this will actually be over and a world where people who are Black like me and my husband are never quite safe. We never know if and when we will be confronted with the fear and hatred people have for us solely based on our race. I never know when we will be perceived as a threat: during a walk? driving? Sitting at home eating ice cream on our own couch?

My lists, my books, puzzles, card games, work, television, dancing to music, working out and social media engagement won’t change it.

It won’t make it all go away.

So what can be done?

I can write about it.

I can talk about it.

I can cry about it.

I can let myself fall into bed, let my mind find the peace it seeks and sleep.

I can sit in the sunshine on my balcony and pray.

I can build myself up enough emotionally to allow myself to engage authentically in the things I truly want to do, not what I think should be done.

I can relieve the pressure.

And let it be.

If some days look like a short walk outside before work, cooking, journaling and putting a puzzle together, I will let it be.

If somedays I need to sleep longer, eat and laugh at reruns of “The Office”, I will let it be.

Anything else doesn’t work for me.

Because it’s not about winning the distraction or achievement quarantine Olympics, it’s about finding a healthy and real way through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Unfolds

What Unfolds

Recently, without realizing it, I developed an obsession with the concept of time. Well, not so much time but the concepts of an alternative future and time travel.

This is not something I would normally write about but this is where I am.

No matter how silly it was (re: Seth Rogen’s Hulu Original Future Man), innovative and emotional (Amazon’s Undone), groundbreaking (the writers’ doomed vision for the world’s future in Westworld) or how prolific (Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred), over the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to tear my eyes or hands away from it.

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Octavia Butler’s “Kindred.” I am only sad I didn’t read it years ago.
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“Undone” on Amazon Prime.

It was happening and for some reason, I didn’t connect the dots or recognize the common thread.

Each time I read or watched, I was asking myself if I would make the same choices.

Change the past for a better future. Alter a minute detail for a shiny, new me. Attempt to take control over what’s already done.

These stories have made me examine choice in a way I haven’t in a long time, if ever.

I understand there is no sense in longing for a past that never was or clinging to a hope I will one day bend reality to my whim.

But my analytical nature examines why I made the choices I did–picked up the phone at a particular moment, took long aimless drives, booked that flight, didn’t take the leap to pursue teaching overseas when I had the chance, grew silent when I should have been shouting or simply why some people have floated in and out of my life like nameless ghosts and others seemingly tethered to me, part of my DNA.

I have found myself indulging in the fantasy: if I went through this door, maybe I would have been a dancer or an activist or a healer, adorned in vibrant headscarves and crystals or a suburban woman with a brood of children or a tightly wound, bespectacled corporate drone in a more metropolitan setting.

I will never know the truth of any of those closed doors, those unexplored lives.

Choices have been made. Deals have been struck.

And thankfully, more will come.

Everyday, I am living in the abundance of choice, the beauty of possibility. Even now, in the midst of this uncertainty.

I think that’s enough to take with me as I watch and read, in awe at the boundless imagination of others and my real life unfolds.

 

 

 

All of the Flowers

All of the Flowers

The world needs all its flowers.

I heard it at the end of a meditation today.

I heard it, hurriedly grabbed a leopard print pen that sits on our side table and scribbled it in small orange memo book.

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I then thought about all of the things and the people that I consider “all the flowers.”

Books. Heavenly books I have run into the arms of virtually everyday these past few weeks.

The pointsetta kept all year long gifted from my mother-in-law that soaks in the sun. I absentmindedly reach out and stroke its leaves from time to time.

Our balcony at dusk where we have spent precious moments relishing silence, the comfort of our mismatched chairs and the sight of the tree where I often catch the same white cat perched on its branches.

My Mom’s text messages full of videos, jokes to make us laugh, inspire hope and advice to be as healthy and safe as possible.

Work. Knowing we are still able to help people even over the phone and via email reminds me it isn’t all over.

Friends. Knowing they are there is enough. Knowing they are there and safe is even better. I haven’t done all of the virtual “everythings” but I am still happy with the occasional phone calls and texts.

My family. I want them now more than ever. They are my first flowers.

Other creators– artists of all stripes still finding their art in the midst of it. Even if their art is a reflection of their weariness in these times, I have fallen in love with your vulnerability.

The small business owners I watch hustling their wares online. I may not have hustle surging through my veins right now but I respect their willingness and bravery to try to do this in unprecedented times.

All of the flowers taking care of the sick, carrying mail, delivering food, cleaning, stocking shelves, manning service stations, driving trucks and buses.

The flowers that bring us closer together and fight for those whose voice has been muted or forgotten.

My husband’s touch and voice that reminds me we walk together, never alone.

My Creator who made all of the flowers a reality.