I didn’t always believe I could do things on my own. And by things, I mean buy property, create a loving home, raise a child – you know, adult things. I can sit here and blame Mami for babying me to the point of enabling crippling habits and patterns, or I can thank her for being a loving, nurturing and self-sacrificing mother who gave me all that I needed and wanted. Because what matters now is that I finally know what I’m made of.
I’m made of sugar and everything nice. The spice is mostly cinnamon. Still sweet but with a savory punch.
I’m made of that NYC/Washington Heights/Latino hustle.
I’m made of the resiliency that Mami passed down to me. Mami is a cryer, yet in 1990 she packed jelly shoes, tights, elephant butts, San Miguel and the rest of his angel posse in boxes. She left behind my father, Angel, and our NYC rent-controlled apartment and moved us to Lawrence, MA. In Lawrence, Mami learned to drive and to speak enough English to defend herself, like, “Mi no speaky English, but wait, my daughter!” Mami raised three kids on her own with little financial means and still found the way to buy us our favorite treats: Coco Rico, Haagen Daz Vanilla ice cream, Papaginos Pizza, and a Sujeiry necklace that I still rock with pride.
I’m made of the cleverness and humor that comes with being Dominican.
I’m made of 25 percent platano sancochado. I used my cleverness to throw away, hide, and/or flush 75 percent of the platano sancochado I was forced to eat every Saturday for breakfast.
I’m made of a vulnerability that I often just show the page, and those extra special loved ones that have gained my trust.
I am made of blind loyalty and a childlike optimism that can get me into trouble.
So, when fulano de tal doubts who I am and what I can do, like, “you’re unstable,” “you’re not going to make money off of your creative career,” “you’re weak,” “do you think you can handle that?” “you’re a burden” “you don’t know what you’re doing,” “you’re holding me back,”””you’re lazy,””you’re not enough,” I remain sweet and savory, hustle-like and resilient, clever and humorous, creative and vulnerable, loyal and optimistic, and say, “Mi no speaky English, but wait…”
Just you wait.