Cristobal Guerra Naranjo 2015
I’m in a constant state of questioning because i can smell and taste the “alcapurrias” y “bacalos” I left behind. That feeling of waking up midday and driving 15 minutes or less to a beautiful beach, getting high with friends and talking about politics withouta hint of snobbery or academic condescension. In a constant state of unrest because I keep imagining the stories I’m missing from my parents, complaining to my uncle about why he doesn’t like “habichuelas” or even being there for my teenage niece on her first day of school.
I wake up in the morning questioning the reasons as to why I departed, and I always come to remember the experiences that have completely redefined the concepts of what I thought that I wanted out of life. I took some power out of quotes like “not all those who wonder are lost”, or even calmed myself with the ideas of upward mobility and a somewhat vague idea of what success actually meant. I wake up in the morning feeling like staying in my room or taking the train to a friend, I wake up knowing that there is no value in an education system that has failed those who don’t participate in the overarching system that supports it. I wake up missing the beaches and the warm weather and the fresh “cocos” and the music. I overanalyze my identity, an intersection of queerness, latinidad, afrocaribbean roots and imperial values imprinted upon me by network TV and shows with white girls doing the most. I walk into conversation with the fucked up history of our colonized minds and bodies. I wake up wanting to sit down with my mom and a “pocillo” and talk about anti-blackness, transphobia and all the things that would rock her world in the best way possible. I wake up wanting to do that work without the shame and guilt that come pre-packaged with a Colombian catholic upbringing. I miss my high school and the handful of friends that have known me at my worst. I yearn for the days in which we share space as adults, everytime we know ourselves a little better, and we bring something new to the table. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, our little island, 100x35, gives us all the context we need to understand each other.
I remember the early days of taking teh 7 train from Queens to midtown just to chill with the upsale girls turning up in Bryant Park. I remember buying into the idea of a glamorous city, I remember being ignorant of the actual human condition, i remember my racist/sexistcomments and the ignroant ground that supported them. I remember being a capitalist and not even knowing the meaning of the word but having the tools around me to defend that claim. I remember nodding my head in agreement of horrible things that were said. I remember sitting in film class and pretending like I could relate to “masterpieces” like Apocalypse, Now. I remember being a complicit asshole . I remember disliking my family and obscuring my roots. I remember sitting in remedial classes and not understanding why it was so easy and constant for me to feel “stuck”. I remember going to parties and sipping cheap red wine with NYU students that somehow made every conversation about themselves. I remember getting my dick sucked and feeling like a charity case all at the same time. I remember dating architecture majors that trivialized my lived experiences. And dance majors who could not think of life without a degree yet I never heard of any auditions. I remember asking myself, WHO ARE ALL THESE FUCKING PEOPLE? WHAT ARE THEY DOING? HOW CAN THEY AFFORD TO DO WHAT THEY ARE DOING? I remember feeling hip on Bedford Ave. and not going to the PuertoRican day parade for 6 years in a row.
I remember the moment of recognition that not all space is safe space.
I remember feeling like an outsider at a random internship that never paid me. I remember grindr dates with boys whose biggestobstacles in life were not understanding why their privilege didn’t get them far enough ahead on the ladder. I remember not having the language to tell them to shut the fuck up. I remember being the first boy in elementary that could speak english fluently. I remember being used intellectually and never compensated for my labor. I remember my anxiety ridden english teacher whose life would have been a lot better had she quit the cult she was a part of and went on with her life. I remember the cult i grew up in and the oppressive and homophobic bullshit I had to put up with every day.
I remember those who could not “pass” as well as me and standing there silently as they suffered endless emotional abuse. I remember my grandmothers story of moving from Colombia to place us in that community. I remember my mom telling me she would force me to wear a skirt in front of everyone at school if I kept acting “like a girl”. I remember crying at the mere thought of gym class. I remember the boricua real estate lady that found me a home in Woodside with a Salvadorian lady who practiced Santeria. I remember the vilifying colonial narratives imprinted on my upbringing that Santeria was a bad thing. I remember the lady invading my space and not allowing me to have guests and selling my bed so I slept on the floor for days. I remember distancing myself from the real estate lady cause she was too connected to my family back home and at that point queerness and boricuaness could not exist in the same space.
I remember smoking joints with my friend Luis and our awkward attempts at code-switching when we spoke in private. I remember us being latinos and going upstate for a fucking cake concert and smoking with white people in a cirlce and being smart enough to get the fuck out when we saw the cops in the vicinity. I remember the awkward space in our EconoLodge bed that could fit a whole curriculum in identity politics and still not articulate the conditions as to which our connection hadn’t deepened enough at that point. I remember traveling the country with crust punks and carnis and living the ‘“kerouac” lifestyle but still working under a capitalist machine that underpaid.
I remember knowing I had a reason to be angry but not the words to shout it out. I remember a white goth at Bonnaroo asking me if I was “legal”. I remember no wanting to defend myself. I remember feeling ashamed of not knowing the stories of those who actually experience immigration oppression.
I remember not voting. I remember not believeing in voting. I remember still being clear on not voting because why the fuck would I support a system that is such a mess. A system that gives no fucks about me. A system that hurts my brothers and sisters? A system that robbed my island of it’s cultural values and resources. A system that allows horrible people to be rich and powerful while beautiful people stay poor and weakened. I remember feeling lost all the damn time. I remember being afraidof finding myself. I remember accepting that this is more of a journey than a destination. I remember meeting the girls. Oh, the girls. The girls fighting for the right things, the girls standing hand in hand and distrupting everything that ever made me feel messed up and worthless. The girls who are only unseen because there is so much around them silencing their voices, and a lot of assholes shelling out big bucks to keep it that way.