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Different

As I was walking to the terminal today, I felt this overwhelming feeling consume my body. I know what is waiting for me at the end of these flights, I know who and I know why. It’s a different feeling this time around.

Back in April I was consumed by the constant what ifs my mind kept throwing at me. I was 100% sure about how I felt about him but I was self sabotaging and kept trying to convince myself perhaps his 100% certainty would diminish once he saw me. It was an incredible feeling to love him but the idea that he might love me less, made April’s trip somewhat different than today. Even after our day things didn’t seem all too real. I processed a lot and wondered if he had experienced everything the way I had. I wondered if his feeling had changed and worried that things would somehow be different once I was back home.

April is behind us and nothing is left but beautiful memories of our days together and of our firsts. Since April we have taken some time to talk and unpack our feelings, to ask questions and to confirm that yes, it was that incredible for both of us. I guess that is what makes this time different. Things have changed, for the best. We know who is walking through the door, we love each other in every capacity and we are very much on the same page. For me, there isn’t this overwhelming feeling of worry anymore about us. We are solid and strong together, I love that.

I know I will be made of questions when I see him again and have a million and one thoughts going through my mind but nothing like the first time jitters that my bright eyes might not want to be my bright eyes after we met. This time I get to enjoy his company without worrying about my own insecurities and lie confidently next to the person that has completely changed my life for the better. It’s an overwhelming feeling, to be loved and to love this way.

I can’t wait for the morning to come, to finally have my world within reach.

I will love you forever my bright eyes.

Dear 34

Thirty five is less than a day away. I’m not one to set birthday resolutions but I do hope that 35 finishes what 34 started. Thirty four has been an eventful year, full of changes, frustrations, excitement and unexpected turn of events. 34 has been similar to every year yet the one difference is him. I was completely blindsided by love. I didn’t plan to fall in love. I merely intended on finishing the year, working, raising a kid and eventually making my way back to some intrinsic educational goal. Nothing could have ever prepared me to feel what I feel every time I think of him and when he is around.

I met him a little over 4 months ago. The man that I know I’ll love forever, in every circumstance in life and despite any distance. I wish that I could remember the exact moment I knew he was my everything. . .my forever. While I cant pinpoint the precise moment, I know that it happened almost instantaneously. I still have my moments where it doesn’t seem real because the attraction and love is so perfect. To love is incredible, to be loved is divine. I’ve never been loved this way before, it feels like my heart has this never ending smile. I don’t have to acknowledge the times I’ve been loved improperly in my past to give this validity. If I had met him first, before all of the mistakes of my past, he would still be the one I will love forever, and the last man I’ll ever love. God knows I wish I had met him first.

We have the type of love that you want to tell the world you have, while at the same time, you wish to keep it to yourself and protect it. You don’t want it to be scrutinized and picked apart by those that would never understand it. There is no explaining once in a lifetime. This feels like what I can only imagine it feels like to be a star. Bursting at the seems with light and love and although at times it feels so powerful it can become unbearable, you crave and desire more of that power and love. It sounds super cheesy but that is what I can compare it to the most. It’s unbearable because of the distance. There are times when I feel like we are an impossible distance away. Patience is limited and I feel like a child about to throw a tantrum. Even when he is sleeping I miss him, I struggle even with the time difference.

So much has been surrounding timing lately. I feel like I’m extremely aware of this count down and how timing affects us all in many ways. Timing hasn’t been a huge indicator for me, because as long as I can remember free will runs ramped for me. I have always and will always believe that we choose the things we want in life and in the same regard, we attract them. I don’t believe anything is by coincidence. I do believe that there is a such thing as a missed opportunity, such as when fate has placed something or someone at your feet and you don’t use your free will to see them and better yet choose them. Such is not the case here. I choose him everyday, all day at multiple times a day. When it gets rough, when I’m about to pout again about how long I have to wait to see him, I choose happiness over convenience. I would do anything to have him close but the fact that he exists and we love in this way is a constant reminder that the distance is only temporary compared to that of never having met him. Patience, although it may appear to be in short supply, is in high demand and much needed. I need him in ways I cannot express.

What we have is something Incredible. I don’t proceed with caution, although at times I still ask if it’s okay to ask a question, it’s not an indicative of how I feel with him. It just feels so different to speak so freely, with understanding. Loving him is like looking into a kaleidoscope, there are so many pieces that have yet to come together but every time I look through the picture is beautiful.

Thank you 34, for being so good to me.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants.

Inhale. . .exhale

Last week was a trying week. I spent it sick working from home the majority of the time. In between work I laid in bed thinking of everything I cannot control, and even spent a great deal of time focusing on those things I can. I lacked motivation to operate and as a result I neglected writing for over a week. I think there is just something about being sick that draws attention to loneliness. Not having someone present to help you do the things you can’t do for yourself feels like you’re the last person on the planet. So I sulked for a minute.

Last night I finally had a moment to really think about where I currently am. How my heart is feeling. I am conflicted and emotionally drained. I can’t wait to finally catch my breath in his arms. I miss our week in April and wish to be there again with him, smiling from ear to ear without a care in the world. Being at his side and being away provided a type of solitude and peace I needed. In the hours I spent alone, I was able to get a much needed break from my reality.

I started writing different blogs in the course of the last week and not one felt like the right one. Nothing had a common thread or theme. I have been in this cluster fuck of emotions lately with my family and it is draining, extremely draining. I have been experiencing a writing block unlike before. My feelings are all over the place, these people are driving me fucking crazy and unfortunately I have been letting them.

This should probably be a throw away post, but I am not going to get back to my writing rhythm if I don’t get all the things that are bothering me off my chest.

I feel as though I haven’t taken a real moment to bask in what is happening with my son. His college experience is temporarily on hold until after surgery, but he still has all these big things going on and I am allowing things with my family to trump all the life that is happening. His last day of high school is tomorrow, he turns 18 on Saturday and he graduates in a little over two weeks. My only child is growing up and I haven’t taken the time to be proud of everything we have accomplished as a pair. I’m extremely proud and I need to live life and be more present with him instead of letting it flash by me. I have been so focused on trying to make sure everything is perfect for him that I failed to realize that Jon is one of the most appreciative people I’ve ever met.

Planning everything hasn’t been as bad, compared to pulling everyone together. It’s been weeks since I last spoke to my mother and again, reaching out to her is this never-ending task and feeling of, “am I doing this right?” I reached out to her on Mother’s Day and again, here I sit waiting for a call back or a lifeline. It is utterly exhausting. I like to pretend I don’t care, but it’s painfully obvious I do.

I was sitting at my computer staring at the screen when my brother approached me. Obviously he knew something was up and so we talked about it. He is kind of like an outsider looking in and he could see how much guilt I’m carrying on my chest about my mother and family. To this day, I have no idea how I can put myself first without feeling like I owe it to them to try. How does someone close the book on their own mother. Is that even okay?

I remember when I was a kid, my mom was institutionalized at least 3 times. On one occasion the psychiatrist spoke to my uncle and family about someone in the home that was the cause for my mother’s digression. My mother’s relationship with my grandmother made my mother sick. I remember my grandmother crying and hiding in the closet and my mother constantly trying to please her and make her happy. That relationship was taxing and I never understood it. I see how my grandmother was and how over time my mother has become that same person. In return, my relationship with my mother has become this cantankerous situation that brings me little to no happiness. I am tired of being the good daughter for someone that at times can be so manipulative and hurtful. I find that if I’m of no use to her, I’m useless to her.

I’ve started to realize that when things don’t go well with her I pick apart at everything else that is going right in my life. It’s easy to throw my hands up in the air and say, this isn’t going as planned and try to quit. She makes me flighty, because that is the way she is. She holds me back and I have given her a pass because of the fact that she is my mother. I can’t keep doing that. There is no other time I realize this more than when it comes to Jon and now with my bright eyes.

When things picked up with my last job and my family was around more, I took a break from school. I thought it be best to focus on getting Jonathan in line. I wanted to make sure he was doing well in school and that I was present for every school activity. I’ve done that but it came at a price. When I’m not focusing on him, I give way to the bullshit and let my family try to occupy my time. I’m extremely school and career driven, and stopping school was the right move at the time, but my return to it is long overdue. So I’m going back in the fall, I’m finishing what I started and I’m getting back in my groove. The idea of it already has me excited. It’ll open more doors to get back into the field I love. I know that once I’m focused on myself again, I’m unchangeable.

Realizing everything that was piling up on me has helped me somewhat clear the debris and realize amidst it all, I have so much to be thankful for.

I have this magnificent kid that has grown into an incredible young man. Does he make me crazy, absolutely, but I think that’s because he is a living breathing embodiment of me. He has so much potential and I can’t wait to see the person he is when he is my age.

I also have my love. A person that I never in all my years thought I’d have. The love that he and I have comes without effort. He is my happiness and has been there for me even when I didn’t know how to ask for it. We understand one another even at a distance and it’s incredible. He is my forever, my bright eyes and I can’t wait to see him and kiss him again.

Tu me manques

When I was old enough to speak, I learned Spanish right away. Both of my parents are Puerto Rican and my oldest siblings were born there so Spanish was the dominant language at home. When I started school, I was placed in ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages). It took about 2 weeks for me to test out of there when I proved to learned at an exponential rate. I don’t know if that was an early sign of my affinity to languages, but I think of it at times.

I never realized how similar the romance languages were until I heard some of them spoken. Those languages being French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese. Of the five, I speak two and understand four. In 2012, I went to Montreal to visit my brother Richard, he was raised French Canadian. I was immersed in a world where I couldn’t fluently communicate a thought in the dominant language. It was extremely interesting and frustrating all at once. Everyone could speak English, but French was their go to. I would sit there and almost fully understand their conversations with few exceptions, but I had to respond in English. That was the moment I decided I wanted to learn French. It was fascinating.

I love being multilingual. I feel as though I can understand things in a way that I would not be able to if I only spoke English. There have been moments when an explanation escapes me and when told in Spanish or French everything suddenly seems to make sense. Such is the example with I miss you.
In English and Spanish, I miss you is straight forward. I. Miss. You. . .the person you are saying it to. However, in French the literal translation of I miss you is, “tu me manques.” You are missing from me. . .I feel that. . .it makes sense.

I miss you. . .I miss him. . .he is missing from me. The distance makes it feel as though one of the biggest parts of me is gone. My heart aches in such a way, that the idea of being with him once again convinces me that I will be whole the moment our lips meet again. Each moment that we are apart feels like an eternity. Why are we where the other isn’t? The ferocity of this love augments itself and is duplicative by the second. We long for each other on both ends, in a way that I have never experienced in my life. Nothing about him has ever felt foreign. He was a stranger I immediately recognized and fell in love with before I touched his skin. There is something about us that parallels the other despite the distance. I experience this constant state of me too and sameness with him. I’ve heard of people say that they feel lonely at times even when people are around, I feel lucky in the way that I feel seen even in his absence. He is a constant presence and knows me in a profound way. I couldn’t hide myself from him even if I tried.

While the distance is crippling, the memories and ideas of what our next encounter will be occupies some time and fills my heart. The flash backs place instant smiles on my face. My heart races every time I replay his I love you in my ear. The memory of his smell and how he felt along my fingertips gives me solace. I know that with time and patience, those memories will be recreated. It is because of this distance I appreciate things in which others may take for granted. Sharing a meal, laying chest to chest, laughing about everything and nothing all at once. I wish I had the impetus to move time in our favor. Although I cannot, I have patience and strength and love. I have all of this and more, with him. I’m completely in love with this person that I would have never met, if not by fate. The tried and true cliche that, “everything happens for a reason,” is part of the solid foundation that our love stands on. When I sit back and think about all the things that had to take place in order for us to meet, there is no other explanation than we were meant to meet. . .to be.

It is true, I miss him. . .he is missing from me, but only temporarily. Soon, the memory of his kiss will be another vivid experience.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants

The Critical Line

Have you ever wondered what happens to your body when you hold your breath? I believe most of us have tried to figure out how long we can go without oxygen. We submerge ourselves in a pool and hold on to see and as much as it feels unnatural we try it anyways. Physically I can hold off a little over a minute before panic sets in. That panic feeling is the build up of carbon dioxide in your lungs triggering your nervous system to force a breath out. Your body recognizes that you can’t hold off any longer and once you’ve reached that critical line your body tries to protect you and force the carbon dioxide out and reintroduce you to oxygen.

But what happens when your heart has reached that critical line and it’s not time to come up for air? This unbearable distance feels like my diaphragm is fighting against me. Everyday feels like I’m a gasp away from the surface and maybe if I hope enough I’ll get to reach the top, see the sun in his eyes and feel like I’m back to life again. That is what it feels like on the worse days. When being away from him feels like an impossible task. Breathing is quite involuntary but at the same time my heart is clenched and my air supply is on low. My heart is in a constant race and I feel beside myself most of the time.

The distance is torment, but there are moments where I catch my breathe again. The sound of his voice, the look in his eyes, the memory of stolen glances feels like small gasps of air during these weeks in between the next embrace. There are moments, critical moments when I want to implode, I know I’ll see him again but it’s as if my body doesn’t recognize that as true. I’m physically impatient and unlike holding my breath under water, this isn’t some just because, I don’t want to know how long I can go without him.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants

Pulse

My brother and cousin wanted to go dancing this weekend; after complaining and backing out of the plans 18 times in one afternoon, I was finally guilt tripped into going. I wasn’t happy about it but I got outnumbered and called old for turning down the plan. I hate going to clubs, it’s never been my thing. People smell like ass, act out of pocket when they are drunk and most importantly I don’t dance. I think it’s weird for a complete stranger to walk up and ask for permission to basically grope me. I’m very uncomfortable in situations like that but find it very easy to say no when approached which gets me either cussed out for being a prude or they respectfully smile and walk away. Thank you polite fuckers for not making it weird. However my disinterest for going to the club has been heightened. Since the pulse shootings I do not like being in bars and clubs like that where there is little access to the point of entry and exit. What happened at Pulse hit way too close for comfort.

My little brother Joe used to go to Pulse every Friday and Saturday without fail. Having dragged me out there twice I too knew the insides of that club very well. On June 12, 2016 it was nerve wrecking for me to wake up to the news, my brother Joe called me in hysterics telling me that he wasn’t there. He wanted me to know he was okay. Thank god he called me because the uncertainty of not knowing would have destroyed me. He was on the way there when he decided he really wasn’t in the mood to go out and opted to stay home and watch a movie. That change of mind is what may have saved his life but I don’t think we’ve all fully recovered after that.

When that happened I was relieved and was okay externally but because of the recent and frequent shootings we had in Florida that year I grew afraid of being in crowded places. I don’t know what it was but my coworkers and I went as far as planning active shooter exits. I sized up every room I entered and figured out ways to get out. It got to the point where I wanted to pull Jonathan out of school. That’s when I decided I needed help, the friends I spoke to didn’t think I had a torch in the fight, my brother Joe lost friends that night so I didn’t want to burden him with my concerns. I tried blogging and nothing helped. I remember one night I was organizing my closet when my son asked me a question and I snapped for no reason whatsoever. I was overwhelmed. I was feeling the world all at once. So that same night I called the employee resource group and scheduled an appointment with a counselor. I went to a few sessions, which I found helpful and never went again. I can’t fix the inevitable or plan for every possible outcome, so I had to slowly but surely get back in the rhythm of things.

I’ve been fine the past few years since then but this weekend when I was sitting there in a place I didn’t want to be in, for more reasons than I can list, I sat against the wall with my drink in hand for what seemed like an eternity. I smiled and had fun singing along to songs with my cousin and brother but in between the distractions, the music went silent and I looked at every individual that walked through the door. The night felt like it was dragging in slow motion. I wanted to get out of there the moment I arrived. The anxiety of it all was not worth the night of “fun,” I hated it and felt anxious until the moment we got back into my car. I detest that feeling of helplessness and doubt I’ll ever step foot into another club again. It’s just not for me and not worth the panic for something I wouldn’t have done prior to the shootings. It’s different, we make sacrifices and shouldn’t let people or circumstances turn us cowardly when it comes to the things we love to do, this situation is not that.

17 Miles

I was driving with my brother the other night when suddenly at the red light I realized and said, “yesterday was my dads birthday.” I’m really good about dates and numbers so I’m kind of surprised I noticed a day late, but in any case. He is 64 years old now, I don’t know what kind of health he is in and I haven’t seen him in years. I just know that I’m aware that someday, he may be gone and for some reason I still haven’t made sense of my relationship with him. On days like this I usually check online to see if he is still alive, admittedly every time I hit submit I am afraid that he will have a date of decease on the site. Today is one of those days when I couldn’t check for the life of me. By definition he is a monster, I understand that, but sometimes I don’t know if I am doing the right thing. At the end of the day, I have a problem knowing he may be sad that his daughter wants nothing to do with him. I don’t like to be the cause of hurt for him. . .it feels pathetic at times, but that’s the way my heart works. I hand out the benefit of the doubt like it’s on automatic renewal.

The past few weeks with my mother have been taxing. I’m sure that is what warrants this recent concern for my father. I rarely feel like I’ve been handed more than I can handle. I don’t need things from people, all I ask is for an ear and if all else fails a shoulder. When it comes to support speaking to my mother is like reaching a detour without GPS. I could speak all the languages in the world but getting through to her is challenging. It feels like I am talking at her at times. As a mother I always try to make sure I’m doing my best for Jon and in moments when I have been unsure, she has made it impossible to turn to her. Some people don’t have any parents and because of that I do my best to appreciate what I do have but reaching out without reciprocity is hurtful. Jon needs surgery and although it’s not for what could be a serious condition, as a mother I am nervous. The last time I spoke to my mother about it, she started telling me about her ailments. It’s as if no one else exists except for her. She then blamed me for allowing him to do sports as if it weren’t possible he could get hurt doing something he didn’t love. It’s a constant back and forth because she didn’t push her kids to succeed, on the contrary she tried to push us toward a C average life. So naturally I tell her less because I don’t want to continue to frustrate myself hoping that she will change. After 62 years of the same, she’s pretty set in stone. But again as the glutton for punishment that I am, I reach out. I sent her photos of her grandson from Prom and here we are days later, she has yet to bat an eye. I cannot stress how much things I don’t need. I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 14 but still the hope that she will wake up one day and be supportive doesn’t seem to go away. At times I’ve given up on her being present for me and hope that she’d at least be there for Jonathan. But she rarely shows up. Yet his paternal grandmother came to see him before prom, took pictures and was very excited about this moment in his life. She checks in when he is sick, she calls to ask if I ever need anything. They are worlds apart and I’m thankful my son has that kind of support. . .but I feel responsible for the things Jonathan doesn’t have from my family. He has never had a real set of grandparents on my side and although it’s not my fault I wish I could change that. My mom has had moments, MOMENTS of clarity when she has apologized for the way she is but she cries to the point that it’s very difficult to jump in and tell her things from my perspective. We have an emotional language barrier, one that I’m afraid will never be broken down.

I have been in Florida my entire existence but it’s not a place I’ve always loved. The world I know is always within reach but a bulk of my family make it impossible to be happy and frustration free. It sounds terrible but the two years I went without speaking to my family were on record the best two years of my life. They are the reasons why I always wanted to run and I’m not a runner. All of my friends that have become family are in Tampa, I know the ins and outs of this city. But the idea of being too far for most of my blood born family to reach me sounds so incredible that I’ve fantasized about it ever since I was a child. When I was in high school I was ready to move out at 18. I had many reasons for wanting to get out but one of the big ones was that home didn’t feel like home, there was nothing calming about being there. It’s no wonder that I’ve always tried to be as distant as I can.

I have 3 siblings from my mother and we were always at opposing ends because that’s how we were raised. I hate fighting and being angry, it drains the shit out of me so living that way constantly was burdensome. I haven’t spoken to my sister in maybe a year now, I miss the idea of her but again, just like my mother she’s a forlorn conclusion. My family gossips and celebrates other people’s failures at times, they live in the I told you so mentality or that’s what you deserve. I’m not like that in any sense. As I write this I realize that if these people weren’t family, they wouldn’t even be friends. It’s a harsh reality that I live with. The one exception is my brother Jose, he has been the constant reminder that I need to do what makes me happy. A few years ago when I graduated he told me that he knew I would be the one out of the 4 of us to “make something out of myself.” I feel like I’m on my way there but far from done.

A few months ago my mom was on the hunt to purchase a new home. I helped as much as I could, took time off to translate, no big. You do what you can to help family. However somewhere in the process she began to pressure me into moving in with her and her husband. She started to say that they were getting older so if something happened to her I could help because my child was almost grown. It makes sense on paper but it was also kind of insulting. I have 3 other siblings, one is married with 4 children, one is legally blind and disabled and my sister has 3 grown children of her own. Then there is me, one child, no husband. I guess when Jon goes off to college it appears as though I have nothing left. . .but that cannot be far from the truth. I’m only 34 and I have goals in mind and destinations that I want to see, places I want my career to go. I’ve been waiting for the day that I don’t have to worry about removing Jonathan from his home for my own dreams. That time is fast approaching. I don’t know how to say this without sounding condescending but the others don’t have any of that. They are happy with their lives and I respect that but if their lives stayed the same for the next 20 years they would be fine with this. I’m full of ambition and take risks with the goals I want to reach. So I guess I let this be known in a way. I told my mom I didn’t want to live there because I’ve grown accustom to my life and I like the way I run things, I do not want my life to look anything like hers at the end of the day. She insisted about her and the husband getting older and I reminded her that although they may be headed in that direction, they are still solid and require no help. It’s true, they don’t need people at this moment. I also cannot accept the responsibility of taking care of him in her absence. I did not have the same experience with him that my siblings did. The idea of taking care of him nauseates me but it’s not something I feel ready to discuss. So again, I’m ready to run because I refuse to be an option. I know my disinterest in helping isn’t selfish, I have my reasons that any sane person would understand, but rather than open up that Pandora’s box, I rather plan ahead for the great escape.

I don’t know how a post about my father led to this, but I guess it’s the decompression I needed. He lives 17 miles from me and it’s a surprise I haven’t bumped into him in the 17 years he has been out of prison. I wonder if he would recognize me, I wonder if we’d have the same language barrier I have with my mom. I wonder often. In the past 17 years I’ve seen him once and although at the time I didn’t think it would be my last, I haven’t seen him since. I changed my phone number and moved, not coincidentally. It was just life and things changed, he has no way of finding me since I don’t ever attach my complete name to social media. I know that I’m this guys daughter and perhaps the good qualities in him are parts of who I am but I can’t help but to feel guilty, for at times comparing and looking at my mother like she’s not enough when I should appreciate that she did the best she could with what she had.