You may have noticed a little radio silence over here lately, as I've been figuring things out in my personal and professional life, and taking some much needed time to travel. From that came this: a decision to pivot the focus of Curandera Club ever so slightly, from a concentration on event creation and collaboration to journaling and exploring together what it means to be a woman / person of color in the world. The events won't stop -- creating safe spaces for women to build community and take care of themselves is a massive part of my purpose on this planet -- but I am giving myself some breathing room and exploring new things as I round out Curandera Club into the full extent of what I hope to turn it into one day.
The need to journal and explore in writing comes, in part, from the same thing that pushed me to create Curandera Club: my home and all of the experiences my people have faced now for decades, but even more urgently so in the past year. I was finally able to visit my motherland this month, eight months after the horrific storm that left so many of my people displaced from their homes, battered and broken. Even today, I'm still reading news pieces about the slow progress towards recovery, and how the aid will soon end.
To be honest, I was scared to go back home. I had raised funds, partnered on a toy drive, even written a short collection of poetry and several articles to raise awareness and help heal my own wounds. But after seeing the pictures of the devastation to my beautiful island, after hearing my mother break down on the phone as she described driving by a dead horse on the side of the road and how she didn't think she could take the suffering any more, I wasn't sure I was prepared to take it all in just yet. So I traveled with a weary heart, ready for what I expected to be a whirlwind, sad and stressful 48 hours in Puerto Rico.
And yet. I had forgotten about something, something so intrinsic to the nature of the island that now I wonder how I could have let myself forget.
I forgot that we are an island of survivors. That, historically, we have been through a barrage of terrors, of grief and pain, but every time we have risen again, stronger and more beautiful than before. Yes, there is still a long way to go in the recovery efforts of Puerto Rico, but the people are still there. They're still smiling and laughing and living their lives. On my visit, I heard stories about the storm -- the damages, the days spent not knowing what would happen next -- but what I saw, more than anything, was strength, courage, and resilience. We drove to the coast, where many of the beachside businesses that Puerto Ricans visit regularly (to buy frituras, fresh seafood, and cold beer), had been destroyed most- or completely by the storm. And yet. Many of them had reopened. Many had rebuilt, and even added on to what had been before. The people were there, dancing and singing and enjoying themselves. Enjoying time with their families and friends.
Perhaps it's a sign of the trauma they faced, but no one even mentioned the impending 2018 hurricane season, what might come. For a second, I let myself forget as well. I forgot about the second story of the house my grandparents lived in since my mother was young, roof torn away and rooms flooded. I forgot the blue FEMA tarp that now covers it, about the lone cross I saw hanging on the wall like a silent prayer left behind by the storm.
I let myself look past the trees still strewn across the fields, ripped from the ground by 175-mile-per-hour winds. I looked ahead only, at the new growth, at the trees that had been barren in news images and were now, once again, sprouting new life. I see what I always see on my visits home, but somehow more pronounced. Somehow more vibrant.
A beautiful sea of green, determined and mighty, ready to face whatever tomorrow brings.