“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” – Roy T. Bennet

Archive for the ‘Dominican Life’ Category

Domino Effect

I didn’t live in the Dominican Republic for long. It wasn’t even three years in the end. But, despite all my efforts to not assimilate to the culture, I left with several quirks because of it.

Every afternoon, someone would either invite us to have coffee at their house or someone would simply put a percolator on the stove. You would think that hot coffee in high heat and humidity would be overkill, but I found that after the initial sweating, the outside humectation would seemingly lessen. Now, I enjoy a pot of (decaf) coffee when the day begins to lull and I’m already preparing for dinner. It may be summer, but I feel as though I am better acclimatized than my husband and can stand the heat of midday enough to run in it.

The beaches of Sosua were always interesting. That side of the island is the more tourist-y side, with bars and high-priced trinket markets lining the beach entryways. The worst thing about them was the appalling amount of lecherous creeps that preyed the shoreline. These were the Speedo-wearing, beer-bellied predators blocked from their own countries. The average age was about fifty, but that didn’t (doesn’t) stop them from picking up sixteen-year-old Haitian and Dominican girls to use and abuse with the promise of a future outside the island. Unfortunately, because I grew so used to seeing this sick trend, I now assume that large, white, fifty-year-old men are all predatory and dangerous. I know this isn’t a fact of all men that look that way, but perhaps I am racist and sexist in small ways because of it. I don’t trust anyone’s grandpa until I really know them.

Lastly, the poverty in the Dominican Republic made me appreciate the abundance of America. Appreciate, and also abhor. We live in such luxury here and complain about the things we do not have. We have so much. I do not go hungry. My family does not go hungry. We have a one-bedroom apartment and I could have another child and it would still be sufficient. We have jobs. We have savings. We have clean water. I cannot complain.

After all is said and done, I do wish to go back someday.

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What Hurts

IMG_1490Pain was necessary to make me who I am. Even though sometimes the thought of what I’ve gone through is crippling, I know for a fact that it was the turning point for my becoming. Without pain, I would never have held a relationship to the wild step of marriage. Without pain, I would never had given it my all to birth a child. I wouldn’t have the determination that I have now to experience life to its fullest. But, oh, how it hurt at the time.
When a fifteen-year-old finds herself at the mercy of two grown men, so many things can happen. I could have died. I could have been abducted, sold, lost. I was violated but so much worse could have occurred in that moment. I survived to have a family and a life of potential. It killed me then, but it drives me now to love beyond reason the harshest of humans.  Somehow I still see the light in this world.
In the year following that moment, I was dark in my soul. My mind shouted and my nails were used to scratch red, bloody words onto my skin. I wrote horrible notes to myself where no one would see them. To me, I was nothing. Ruined. A whore. I kept my dark secrets buried and let them simmer and shape me into a bitter cynic. I felt ugly, inside and out. And to me, every man, both young and old, wanted me as a toy to play with and then leave in the dirt.
What changed this horrible mindset? I had a mental disease that was eating away at my core. Whatever could possibly heal me of it?
There is a love that reaches deep into your heart and strengthens it and fills it where it once was empty. I may yet be cynical but I believe wholeheartedly that there is a God that mends the broken mind and drives us to live again. He let me realize that the darkness in me was my soul crying to be whole. I was not abandoned or ruined or the putrid heap I thought I was. I was loved. I was beautiful.
I hope that in my sharing of this there will be someone that will understand. Do not allow those that hurt you to win. You can still stand strong and tall and live life wonderfully. I hope you find the healing that I did. I hope you have better days. I hope you grow old with your family and can look back to see that pain only made you tougher and didn’t cripple you. You may still cry or flinch at little things but it will get better over time. Survive. Do not dwell on the past, as it cannot change, but it can change you for the better if you’ll allow it.

Heart Thief

Who was there to rearrange

The walls? and I’ve

Lost all that I meant to gain

What mattered most has

Turned away and struck again

And I’m left empty-handed and ashamed

Who was there?

Wasted hours

Wasting, holding

I am strung on

Borrowed heartstrings

Not that they gave but

Give so freely

Who was there to take

Their offerings?

What’s a vulture to the man

Who doesn’t struggle? he

Takes away the fun in it

What caused the hunger?

Many beat outside the chest

For what’s inside it

Showing marks on east and west

The wind did it

Wasted hours

Wasting, holding

I am strung on

Borrowed heartstrings

Not that they gave but

Give so freely

Who was there to take

Their offerings?

I know it’s a simple thing

To give up yourself

For somebody else’s dream

But you has wanted

Leaving every thought you have

Everything you wish for

And placing them in stranger’s heads

And on their shoulders?

© 2012 singinthebreeze.wordpress.com

My Pen Broke

walk slowly

take your time

because there will always be time to take

no matter what your circumstance

no matter who you are

whether you enjoy the dark

or you run from it

whether snow seems harsh and cruel

or the warmth of summer too demanding

there is a life to be lived

you choose

there is a life to be lived and you know what to do to live it

you take a step and then another

and those are just the basics

you can always take another if you want to

there are no backward steps

there are different steps to similar paths

but there is no going back to what already was

that is life

life is future and confusion molded into one

but what is the worth of confusion

when you act upon it, confused?

time doesn’t waste

it cannot be wasted

it spaces itself and yields nothing

so take life

and live it well

take time

and use it well

walk slowly

because there will always be time to take

That Broken Harmony

People.
Have you ever noticed how different we all are? Even people that are similar have differences. We dress different, give our bodies our own flair. Celebrities try to be each other, we try to be them, and yet we cannot. Do you know why? Because we can never be the same as someone else. We are not clones cut from the same mold or the same exact ingredients. Even children are different from those who made them. There are changes in personality, changes in the way they walk, differences in what they prefer to eat. Twins, the people who are the closest to each other, are different. None of us is like another.

Still we try.
We shape our bodies and our faces to be like people we know. Mass groups are changing themselves, compromising their images to be false. Why do we do it? What have we to gain? We have so much to gain from being unique. From each person we can learn. We all have thoughts and words ready to break forth out of our lips. Our ways are our signatures, the signatures that we leave behind when we walk out of a building. They leave people wondering, wanting to know more about us. Our differences hold the interest of those we meet. They are what make friends and enemies and rumors and job offers. Without these, life is lifeless, colorless.

Can you see the sparks?
Leaping off our faces and out our eyes, surrounding our sighs with light and laughter.  Those are our desires and feelings. Those are me, drinking  my coffee without any sugar. Those are you, drinking your coffee with several spoonfuls. Those are the world, preferring one movie over another, one fabric over another, one topping over another.  Those are also the pain that each of us feels. The reason a father hurts his family and the reason a friend betrays a brother.

Without.
Without.  We are purposeless, gray matter amidst rainbows. Nothing we do can change that we are not alike. Hello, you. It’s me, a person. I am not you. You are not me. Now let us be friends in that broken harmony. 

Something

Ghosts that I try to bury, but they disappear when I reach for them. They are tricky and fast, too fast for my clumsy hands. Every waking hour is spent in decline, in a bubble of voices only I can understand. Hear me now: I am not alone, but I wish I were.

As a child I was different. Not different as in I knew more than others, or less than others, or that I came from a cult, or was delivered by a stork. I was different as the wind is different from the sea, and yet they live in harmony. I lived in harmony. Other kids connected with me well. They would tease me and joke around with me and play with me on the swings. I wasn’t an outcast, by any means. I simply was there, biding my time, because…perhaps I did know more. Perhaps I knew something I shouldn’t.

As I drag myself up the stairs, my body nearly decayed as the dirt, I look three times my age. Knowledge ages you, I suppose, paired with apparitions and whispers than nobody else notices. Those age you more than cigarettes.

I grew up in a steady way. Born in a hospital; raised in a small house with a brother and a mother and a father.  I went to school  and I learned at a normal pace. But do you know what made me different? What made me different was the fact that my eyes and ears could hear and see more. I never said anything about the fingers that grabbed at the hair of my classmates, or the footsteps that echoed through the halls. At first I thought it was only at school, but the rattling in my kitchen changed that thought.  Sometimes the water would run unnoticed by my family. Sometimes I would run, unnoticed by my family. Running was my safe haven. While life was going past my sight fast, I couldn’t see the things that weren’t supposed to be there, and all I could hear was the whistling of wind in my ears. Running meant freedom.

I remember when I lost it. When my head  couldn’t take it anymore and I cried out to the first person I could reach. I grew angry, yelling at them, “Why can’t you see? Why can’t you see?” I was alone in the way that it matters to be alone.

When I blew I was in class. The things that I saw were going and going, around and around, all over the room. Dust was flying, dust that only I could see. I wanted to brush it away, off their sleeves and their desks, but it landed, layer by layer. Their lips moved in a fish-like motion. I couldn’t concentrate with the grit at their noses and mouths. The teacher was sucking it in like a vacuum, each word breathing in a cloud. I stood and I spoke and they looked at me as they should have: as though I was a freak, a mistake, a blip in the average human DNA. I ran.

The fear I remember. When I think of it, it consumes me. I see spots and I shake and I jump at the slightest noise. Are they coming? Have they found me after all this time? I am a stranger in the eyes of the beholder. Nobody knows me. Nobody cares to know me.

I was eighteen. I was energy, unstoppable in my descent to ruin. The city found me, with its lights and signs drawing me in like a moth.  That is where I stayed, moving only to keep from being detected as an abnormality.  Friendly spirits tried to guide me, but they ruined my mind, so how could I let them? Somebody knew.  As I resided in a park and I spoke to the trees, I was watched. She came out of nowhere. The bushes I consider to be nowhere.  Just a pale face, staring with uncertainty. I had frightened her, with my hand motions and my exasperation with the demons. She saw me look at her, and she bolted like a deer on a highway. I listened to her agitated ramblings for a while, leaning back on the bench. Eventually, though, two more forms appeared, unwittingly stumbling into an invisible web as they crashed through the foliage, demanding to know my problems, my secrets. They didn’t even notice the spider.

Why I didn’t run then, I do not know. I was tired, I guess. But I was examined, and by all accounts I was completely honest during the examination. I told them what I saw, what I heard. They looked at me with pity and a small amount of anger, for some odd reason. They entrapped me in a white jacket, even though I had never harmed myself or anyone else in my life. My parents were frantic when I was found, and even more frantic when they had to send me away to “a safer place.” I know the truth. I am not crazy.

It was my apparition that got me out of there. This particular apparition was a favorite of mine. We never raised our voices at each other, and he never appeared when I was busy.  In many ways he was me: calm, friendly, curious, self-reliant. He came to my rescue after several months of torture. The torture wasn’t meant to be torture, but that is what it was, nonetheless. He came with his hands and a key. The key. And so I took off in the night, with fresh scars and newly acquired static electricity as my friend.  Needless to say, the last torture session didn’t come with any miraculous breakthroughs.

Now I live in the middle of nowhere, a crippled body after my veins began to reject the poisons they had pumped into me. There was no cure; there is no cure. I see what I see and that is all I can see. There was a dark shadow looming over me in a field that night. It meant a place to rest my head and hide away from the world. I survive on nothing but rain and the animals that nest here with me. I will never be found, and they will never know. Do you want to?

My ghosts are the thing that I shouldn’t know. Nobody should know about life after death, the ultimate secret. My secret.

Shh…

The Half-Naked Stampede of Black Men

The Setting: Night, a dying bonfire, nairy a soul but two girls talking, trees all around and the whole world asleep…or was it?
The Surprise: As we laid there on a green blanket, reveling in our ingeniousness of camping out while everyone slept on dusty, dirty mattresses inside, there was a noise. The voice of a man. 
“Ruth, did you hear that? There’s someone over there!” I whispered.
We looked to the trees, and there was a single, shirtless man standing on the edge of them. 
“Rachelle, get down!”
We flattened ourselves on the blanket, breathing heavily and trying to slow our racing hearts. Suddenly, all hell broke loose.
The trees exploded with men. Men with naked torsos, their shirts wrapped around their heads and faces like ninjas or sheiks.  Men with dark skin that blended into the night, their white shirts shining out like beacons. All silently running toward us brandishing half-filled bottles of Coca-Cola and Sprite and water. We lay there, our mouths wide open in shock, hardly believing our eyes. 
They did not stop at us. They kept running, jumping over our bodies as though we were only obstacles in the way of their grand scheme. One man slowed, but only to put a finger to his lips and say, “Shh.”
They stopped at the dorms where all the other girls were sleeping with the vented windows as their targets. They aimed straight and true, soda and water splashing through onto the beds inside. As soon as they came, they went.
They streaked back to the trees like a thousand bolts of lightning, jumping over us again, our bodies now rolling around in laughter and disbelief. They disappeared, and yet, even with the intensity of their attack, no one woke. The lights remained unlit, the sleeping souls remained unstirred. 
And so with that, we knew they would return. And they did. With hoses and buckets, this time going to the side of the building where most of the windows lay, and most of the beds. They turned it on at full capacity, leaving just as quickly as before.
The screams. Oh, the screams. They echoed into the night and into our minds, softly at first, but then growing as the owners of them became more aware of their circumstances. Their beds, their bags, their bodies: drenched.  
The rebuttal was slow in coming, the plan was incomplete. They smeared their faces in toothpaste, white cheeks glowing in the dark. They passed us, not noticing us as we stood there watching the excitement and revenge in their furious eyes.
They crept of the stairs to their prey, not realizing that their prey was really the predator, and it was lying in wait. Hostages were taking, the rest of the army turning tail and running back to safety. We were joined by two others, Evangeline and Ann. We hid in the shadows, having done nothing and hesitant to have something done to us. The girls went by and came back shrieking with a horde behind them. The horde then saw us crouching there.
We, the original two, hid inside a hollow building. We saw our compatriots surrounded and splashed. One took off bellowing after a cowardly male, and the other was too tired to do anything but stand there as she was covered head to toe in toilet paper. We were curled in a corner, hoping they wouldn’t see us through the empty window. 
One did, causing us to panic. We moved to a different corner to avoid being soaked near the window. Ann the bellower entered. We took a chance as we were forgotten by the horde, and ran to another hiding place where we had stashed the  green blanket in the heat of the battle. 
As soon as it all began, it was halted. Leaders came pouring out of the doors, awakened by the cries in the night. They ushered us girls inside, and then back outside, where we did push-ups until someone dropped. Then we did jumping jacks until someone dropped. Then sit-ups until someone dropped. Then we ran in circles until finally they told us to stop, and made sure we had learned our lesson about breaking curfew. It was five in the morning. Ruth and I had been awake the entire night, having been up talking until the war started. They woke us at six. All in all, I had thirty minutes of sleep, Ruth beating me by fifteen minutes.

They never punished the men. 

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