I had a love/hate relationship with the earth. At 7 years old, I refused to step on wet soil for fear of worms. When it rained, I’d eye the ground like a bird when catching breakfast, only I sprinted if so much as a slimy little head surfaced. Then there was the time where I darted behind my mother’s skit, screeching, “There’s a bee! There’s a bee!”, while waving my long limbs. I sobbed on Mami’s hem while shrieking, “I hate bees! Why do we have to have bees?! I hate nature!”
By the end of my emotional breakdown, I’d raised a fist to the air, summoning the collapse of Mother Earth.
You see, I was a bit of a…pendeja. But that’s because I didn’t grow up outdoors. Mami made sure we were only outside on three occasions: on Sunday’s when walking to my Tia’s apartment on 170th and Amsterdam, when going to the bodega, pizza shop, or grocery store (which were all within a 1-block radius of our apartment building), and when traveling to and from school, and on necessary instances, the doctors office. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to play for hours at the park. The crack pipes, cascaras de cigaro, and shards of glass from broken Heineken bottles were reason enough for Mami to keep her three kids away from all outdoor activities in the hood. As for cooling down my skin from the summer heat with the refreshing water from la pompa, “Don’t even think about placing as much as a pinky in that water!” Mami reprimanded.
And so it was.
Now, as a 33-year-old mujer, I realize the importance of nature and caring for our planet. I refuse to anger Mother Nature as her wrath is as unpredictable and feisty as my Dominican momma. Litter on a daily basis and the Earth warms to a boiling point. Her temperature will rise and, soon enough, she will blow, like when Mami caught me flinging pieces of platanos through the kitchen window. When we continue to disrespect her season after season, she brings us hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hail, and snow storms season after season. Bottomline, Mother Nature is as dangerous as my momma is with a chankleta, yet as soft and nurturing as my momma is whenever I am in need.
So what should we do show her our love on Earth Day? Help plant a tree. Garden in Central Park with recyclable containers. Pick up trash for community service. Reduce the volume of your pumping speakers so your neighbors can hear themselves think! Celebrate the Earth at the NYC Earth Day Festival. Vow to treat Mother Earth as you treat your momma. I know I will. As much as I still run away from bees and cannot stand the smell and feel of grass on my skin, I do love laying by the ocean, taking in the beautiful sun as I sink my toes in the warm, granular sand. Because I am not a child anymore.