On the Eve of my 34th Birthday

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There are things that are expected of/from mujeres as we reach certain ages. Milestones, accomplishments. They usually include relationships, familia, career, ownership. Most of the touchstones are based in stereotypes around gender, race, class. What for example is expected of a mid-30’s Nuyorican mujer?

I struggle with commitment to some things. I get easily distracted, as proven by my failed attempt to do a poem a day last month but I do have all of the things above – not in traditional forms – not simply- but I have meaningful relationships including friendships, strong family bonds, romances, sexual affairs, working relationships with people in my line(s) of work. These are what have sustained me the most. Sisterhoods and people put in my path for very specific reasons and lessons. We support each other and sustain each other. For example, over the past few months I have been travelling around, sharing space with mamis, artists, hermanas, new lovers and friends. Sharing space always requires negotiations that are not easy but are exercises of love and growth. I feel like I am negotiating – balancing daily. Some days it leaves me feeling isolated and defeated. Other days I feel strong and more confident than ever.

I have a beautiful little familia with my hijas – brilliant beings on this earth who frustrate me to no end but also blind me with their talents, abilities and gifts. I will defend them and us with all I am because our life – the way we live- interact-share is a manifestation of the world I want for me, them, and all of us really. Seriously, Casa Mala with all of her imperfections like no hot water, , little privacy, no space, leaky ceiling, mounting debt, loud arguments, teen eye tolling, pre-school trantrums – is a microcosm of a universe centered on love where I want to live forever. It is no accident that many have stayed in Casa Mala – some for a few nights some for weeks. I want my home to be as open as my heart and I want my hijas to see that. And I believe – I know that this is given back. Casa Mala West anyone?

Career is a little more complicated. Earlier today in a correspondence with a group of mujeres I am building with I wrote about the need I felt for a word to replace work. I have worked. Retail, FX Analyst, stripper, non-profit puta : those were all jobs. What I do now, maintain VivirLatino, write and perform, mami, tutor, workshop and build relationships requires energy, thought, and time. Very rarely do any of these things pay enough to support my familia. And really money is not that point. I mean clearly I need it to live pero the things that I do – the “work” is also a matter of living according to values that are important to me. By many standards I am considered a failure. A woman my age with two kids shouldn’t have to struggle so much with money, live without health insurance, worry about food. But I do. I don’t think that makes me a failure. I think that makes me like so many other people in this world- struggling to be valued for who I am not as a machine in part of a larger machine.

Along the same lines I don’t own anything. I don’t own a home, a car, hell I don’t even own a pet. I have no real desire to own a home or a car. Would I like a nice place to live- yes. Do I need to make it mine by signing on the dotted line and paying taxes on it. No.

Everyday I am reminded about how wonderful my life is. How I am surrounded by the love and energy I put out and how I receive it back.
I am so ready for this 34th year of my life.

Bring it y let’s go.

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