This morning the baby and I couldn't stop smiling at each other. I'd cover her face with the blanket and she'd coo in delight till I pulled it off Peek-A- BOO! Baby laughed so hard, and when I looked away she'd furrow her brow until I caved. She drank her bottle and fell asleep mid-suck. I couldn't bear to wake her up, so her and I lay silently on the floor. I feel sorry for all the people who don't have a little baby around to perpetually keep them in awe. Someday I would have one of my own. I wonder if when I stare into her fragile glass eyes I could see me and her father and all the love and chromosones it took to make her.
But that's not what I'm here for today. In the laze of the sleepy morning I got to watch a little t.v. Probably the most I've watched all semester.
I saw the documentary Yo soy Boricua, Pa'que tu lo Sepas! I was so ashamed. When had I lost my culture? When did I give up on espanol? Did it start with ex-boyfriend? Him chiding my culture playfully? Did it begin when I stopped spending so much time in the domestic sphere? Or was it college life surprisingly devoid of cafe skin and sassy accents?
My round ass has let me down. In middle school it had reminded me what, for once, I had that the other girls did not. I used to display my flag obnoxiously, like so many other loud banana bundlers. When did sugar cane and platanos stop tasting so good? Now I dream idly if only I could go to Europe, when days of old I would dream about the moon-lit beaches of Arecibo where I was once concieved.
The documentary was about the history of Puerto Rico, where it's at, and where it's going. Such beauty marooned against such proverty. How proud my heritage is and resilient. They, we, were invaded by the red white and blue. Ravaged by venture capitalists and Uncle Sam's insatiable sweet tooth. Puerto Rico was reduced to a big sugar plantation and rum factory. 50% of Puerto Rico is currently at the poverty level. Fifty fucking percent. But amidst the poverty boricuans continue to dance, sing, and proudly wave their flags. Because no matter how poor, they know that they live in the richest port in the whole world.
In the documentary I discovered the poetic beauty of Pedro Pietri. One of the famed Nuyorican poets, he captured the essence of what it is like to be a boricua living in the United States. In his poem "The Spanglish National Anthem" I swear he was writing about my old Papi.
As a little girl I was so much closer to my culture. I would go with my dad down to river street to visit my Tio Nino. As soon as I walked in a barrage of hands would assault me. They smelled like guava and arroz con frijoles. Tia Ancy would pinch my cheeks, "Aye que lindo!" My dad would play dominos in the front room, while I sat under the kitchen table and played barbie dolls. I was only six or seven, but they always gave me a little coffee to drink, "Yesse, cafe for you baby. No tell jour mami, Okay?" Lots of milk and even more sugar, now I drink at least two cups a day. Sometimes they'd give me "candy", and it would be cherry cough drops! Even though my little blond hair stuck out like a stalk of broccoli in a coconut tree they always made me feel like a little boricua nina. The documentary reminded me of a beautiful part of myself that had been forgotten.
Ahhh rediscovering oneself is always a beautiful process. It's like make-up sex without getting all sweaty!