i have named her my enemy from the second i announced my birth..
from the moment i made use of my lungs
and screamed my existence to the world..
when i am suppose to acknowledge her existence
i become undone
i have learned to accept her
because i have realized
that i cannot make it without her
because without her i would have ended my days in an asylum
ingesting small round pills that would
force her into my being
and when anything good
enters my life these days
i ask for her company..
to never leave my side
but i still hate her
because i can never be her
because she can never be a part of who i am and because i need her to succeed..
It’s been a year since I wrote that entry. The one with the same date that spoke about my adventure with my little cousin Andrew.. At the time I was on route with the planning of my Life, having just moved back from Italy not so long before then.. so much has changed.. And tonight I sit in a comfortable bed in Buenos Aires, Argentina.. and it’s like I can’t and can believe it, my being in foreign countries is becoming commonplace but I don’t want to feel like it is, I want to reserve that feeling of wonder when you experience something new..
I was granted the opportunity to go to Buenos Aires, thanks to a friend I met and kept from studying and living in Florence, Geraldine Cunto.
Geraldine is Argentinian and amazingly talented and comes from a tight knit family that love and support her.. her mother Beatriz, I believe is the force behind that.. My safe introduction to Italy was thanks to her Dad Rolando.. but that’s another post I promise to write..
I stayed in Buenos Aires for one month in August and it was winter, their winter. I was given the opportunity to intern at La Martina and needless to say I had a blast.
Here are some pictures taken while in Buenos Aires..
Of the people, at work, on the bus.. of the market, the gardens, the streets, of their churches, their cemeteries, their architecture, their art, all that speaks volumes about them…
It hasn’t been a year since I came back from Italy..
June 3rd will make a year and certain things have fallen into place..
As soon as I returned I took the exams I needed to become a certified teacher and a driver..
I am now a certified high school teacher but have yet to sit behind the wheel..
Work is fine.. I am always fine when it comes to that department.. work, work and more work..
I even have an offer to return to Milan, nice huh? but I don’t want to go back..
I am ready to start in the classroom. I am ready to take on a room of hopeful and helpless teenagers. I am convinced that my calling is Now..
Not bad when it comes to things that can be controlled..
But then there is the ‘matters of the heart’
I have been on and off a ludicrous string of bad encounters with guys..
One was a teacher, David, close to my age with a little girl, she is twelve and even if it was a nice date, five feet away from Scarlet Johansson on a Broadway stage, he never called back..
We had a pseudo love affair in writing.. we wrote and wrote almost every day before meeting and it turned out to be just that.. words
Couple of emails from another guy, Richard, an Eastern European, works in a logistics company in Long Island.. and just as brief was his entrance into my life, so was his exit..
There was Brandon, young Jewish musician, played the guitar.. the most beautiful grey eyes.. but his age became a factor that broke the deal..
and through this entire roller coaster ride there was a familiar face.. actually two familiar faces.. hey when it rains it pours.. but that didn’t work either.. they didn’t work either..
it is as if the five years I spent abroad never passed by, its as if I’m still 29, the age I was when I left because the guys I kept meeting were younger than me.. and sometimes it wasn’t so bad, but then it was.. for me..
I am the oldest in my family.. for all of the siblings that are the oldest, they know what I mean.. I am the responsible one, the dependable one, the strong one.. and I’m tired.. I don’t want this job anymore..
I want someone to be those things for me.. even if I know I will do ALL of those things and more for them..
So along comes this older guy.. lucky number seven years older than me.. Its like my Heavenly Father has always known what I wanted and He placed him down here to meet me.. and he did.. We met three days ago, and I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge with him and walked it back..
We communicated very little before.. I wanted to write more, feel him out with words but I gathered he was the right to the point kinda guy.. so instead of giving in and give him my number, I invented a riddle for my number.. and he solved it and he called
So the Brooklyn Bridge it was, and there was where we met
He’s six feet tall, Irish-Italian and the oldest of four..
I loved, a little too much, that he’s tall.. I loved that when looking straight ahead I saw his shoulders, and the sun beating down on his neck.. We talked and talked of everything and nothing, the best kind of conversations.. till we arrived to Old Fulton Ave. where he wanted to sit and have pizza at Grimaldi’s.. a little pizza place with a looong line, any other day, it would have been inviting, but the sun was merciless and I really wasn’t looking forward to standing in the sun.. but I did, because he wanted to go there..
We ate and talked some more and moved our conversation to the pier one park, right on the water..
One unforgettable moment was when we were sitting together, I was looking in one direction, while he was looking at a couple with a baby.. I glanced over at the couple a few times but continued to look straight ahead at the Manhattan skyline.. he asks ‘Boy or Girl?’.. I swear my heart skipped a beat and I didn’t know what to answer.. he sensed my hesitation and responded, ‘I mean about the couple over there, you’re probably thinking ‘wow, he’s fast!”.. and I laughed, because yes, it was a question that took me completely off-guard.. I looked at the baby and said, ‘its a girl’..and he says, ‘well how did you know that?’, ‘she has pink socks’..
We commenced our walk back to Manhattan, stopped to get water and talked some more..
He spoke of his brothers and of his job and of his past, briefly
Asked me politely if I wouldn’t mind a ride back home and I accepted..
We walked to the garage on Reade St. and I treated him to Starbucks -‘my brother calls it Fourbucks, cause there is nothing less than four bucks’ he says.. ‘Not true’ I said, there’s the cafe Americano.. listen to me defending an entity that has commercialized one of the last legal drugs on the planet to the point of no return.. I got an iced coffee, he laughed at the fact that I had a Starbucks card.
We get on his Pickup truck and drive smoothly to the Westside highway and we spoke some more..
He spoke of his parents.. they met in college and his father was an English major (I secretly loved that) and he told me how his dad corrected his mother’s love letters, I outwardly loved that, I laughed so hard.. That was amazing.. I imagined these people by the way he spoke of them, and the love in his words made me want to meet them..
He left me a block away from home, because I didn’t want to take him off track on his way home.. He would have to continue North towards Westchester..
We briefly kissed goodbye and our lips were a bit closer this time.. The date was over and I rated it a success.. and a success it was, he called the next night..
I want to see him again and I believe he wants the same..
If it were up to me, I would be on the New Haven line as I type away.. but this time around, I want to do things right..
I want what I have never had, that thing that happens to undeserving women and the women of yester-year, I am liking him..
The hours I passed with him on Sunday seemed like minutes, that now seem like seconds.. and I want to experience that again, with him..
Talk again, talk some more, get to know him and him, me..
it’s all new, this is all new to me.. but this time around I wont ask,
so what now?..
This time around, even this will fall into place
Saturday 9:07 p.m.
Woke up at about 5 a.m. realizing Jorge never came back to sleep, just to return my keys.. I guess he found his ride back to New Jersey.. I guess it’s a bitch getting on public transportation from the Heights to Jersey after midnight..
Being my mother’s daughter, I left the bed empty JUST for HIM, Jorge, my cousins’ pseudo brother and Friday night occupant of the empty bed. The empty bed is in Andrews’s room and last night I was on Andrew duty, this meant sleeping near Andrew in case he woke up in the middle of the night.
But knowing he is the Friday night occupant, I slept on the couch and renounced the A.C. cooled room just for HIM. And he didn’t return to sleep in it.
Pissed cause I could have FALLEN ASLEEP in the cold instead of the HOT sofa, I got up and waddled my fat ass to the room. I made sure Andrew was ok, and threw myself in the cold bed… Ahhhhhh – I just LOVE the person that came up with refrigeration.
Woke up again at 9 a.m. This time thanks to Andrew. Went to his crib and attempted to fool him into falling asleep, just for another half hour… please please… yeah right!
So I take him in my arms and take him to the bed, where he asks me for the famous ‘strawberry baba’ which is a bottle of whole milk with strawberry flavored Quik.
I go to the kitchen and prepare his Majesty’s request.
Its wondrous how when a family goes a couple of good years childless, they become a bit frigid and scattered. But when a child is born, it changes everything, the new additions are like Royalty, because everything and anything is done for them. Every want and every need, no matter how frivolous, is a met command. Little fuckers.. you should see this kid, my cousins jump at every little cry.. Before he came, we hardly saw each other. Couple of phone calls here and there to set up missed meetings. Now we are here every weekend to take HIM to the park or the zoo or the museum… Shit!!
But I love it..
So he’s sipping on his bottle, me hoping his eyelids are closing, him becoming more and more awake.. DAMN that was COLD MILK!!… after half of the bottle, he leaps off the bed – Let the requesting continue
Andrew: – I wanna play
Me: – Ok go play
Andrew: – Andwoo and Wousie play
Meaning ‘Get up and play with me’ – so I think for half a second ‘do I let him wander off to the living room and torment my mom or do i get up and start my Saturday at 9 A.M.’ …. tick tock tick tock… ok it was more than half a second.. long enough for him to repeat – Andwoo and Wousie PLAY!!!
I got up
I brushed my teeth and washed my face knowing he would follow me and watch me.. love how little things can entertain little ones of two..
I placed him in front of the idiot box while I made him breakfast for him and I.. mashed a potato for him and toasted bread for me..
Sat him down and hoped he wouldn’t refuse his breakfast as he usually does. Eating is NOT his favorite thing to do, something that makes me doubt he belongs to THIS family.. and so it was.. – No, I don wang potatoes, I wang bread – (Little Dick!! thats MY breakfast, IM ON A DIET!! I WISH I could have potatoes and YOU want my whole wheat toast?!!) I break off a little piece, small enough for him to chew and use the rest to bribe him into eating his mash potatoes… No Good, he eats my bread and the potatoes go to the garbage..
Time for Sponge Bob, but my mom puts some Spanish Cartoons, hating how we speak too much English to him. The lifelong argument ‘Ustedes hablan Español’.. ‘Hablenle Español‘.. well more like commands than arguments..
I fall asleep on the couch and when I wake up (12:30), I have this desire of just Getting out.. GO OUT!!
and Andrew reads my thoughts
‘I wanna go out!!’
so I clean his face and change his diaper and GO OUT!!
All the way to the elevator – my mother – ‘Agarrale la mano, no lo sueltes!!’ and I’m like – ‘NO! Yo lo voy a dejar ir, y que se lo lleve un carro!!!’… Lady I am the oldest Grandchild in this family, I have changed diapers, fed, babysat, helped with the homework, have gone to PARENT-TEACHER NIGHTS in my TEENS!!! are you kidding?!!
so we are outside… I take him to McD’s and I get my iced coffee and nuggets for him.. and then to the 148th street kiddie playground. Now at this moment I’m realizing how DAMN HOT it is, and how maybe it wasn’t such a great idea coming high noon to a playground to let loose this little demon..
He’ll have a Blast and I’ll get sunstroke!!
I’m on him like a tick on a street dog, realizing that his favorite thing in the playground could actually hurt him – the slide! – at high noon?!! that metal slab could cook his little thighs to the touch!! so i explain to him – ‘It’s hot.. you can’t sit on it..’ I touch it with a finger and mimic getting burned so he can understand its dangerous.. He touches it with his little finger and quickly removes it and repeats – ‘It’s Hot!’
So I receive a call from my cousin Tiesha, his surrogate mom, asking where were we..
‘At the park’.. She responds ‘This early?’ Obviously she has done this before… stupid me..
So I take him home… and figured I had all afternoon OFF, with NOTHING to do.. a.k.a Go Insane Time.. so I buy some eggplants and decide to make eggplant lasagna or Eggplant Parmigiana.
Now THIS dish right here, although simple, very few ingredients, takes a DAMN long time to do..
its all in the PREPARATION, slice and egg and bread and fry the eggplants..
and I ALWAYS make too Much, I thought 4 eggplants would be just right, YEAH right!! more like, too much, enough for two trays… but of course NOTHING goes to waste in our family, thanks to our grandma..
My cousin Ralphy was home, Thank Goodness!! Someone else on Andrew Duty..
I clean, slice, soak in water and prepare the eggs for the batter..
I prepare the sauce..
Little by little they all start appearing. Tiesha arrives with her husband and friend of the family, German.
And I cook and fry eggplants and stir the sauce… My grandfather arrives… and I cook…
Tiesha grates the cheese.. Polly O! is more like – Polly Oh Shit that’s gotten expensive!! 6.50$ for mozzarella?!! Whatever!! it’s not even real mozzarella!! so of course get the no frills…
My other cousin Steve arrives, a.k.a. the human vacuum cleaner, and eats some of the fried eggplant slices and this one time I’m grateful, because it was too much..
The ingredients are ready and comes time to make the actual dish that has to go in the oven…
Layer and layer of fried eggplants and sauce and cheese.. one tray… two trays.. and a broken OVEN!! ARGHHHH… so Thank Goodness, I have access to the oven next door.. Next door, another nightmare.. but not bad enough to NOT use the oven…
I go back downstairs, I need diet pepsi..
I run into my aunt Carmen and automatically wish I had my cell on me so I could call upstairs and warn them she was coming up.. she can’t stand my grandfather, her father… long story…
no luck, but oh well..
So the Lasagnas are done, and diets are broken.. they liked it… They BETTER had liked it!!! SHIT!!
I love cooking, aside from it being something to do, I like the end result. It feeds my loved ones.. a good that lately has become a bad, food=love..
Tiesha and German tells us of their nights adventure of drunken women in the heights coming on to their friends, and amongst them JORGE!! Oh so THAT’S where he was!!!
”Morenito, Tu Ta Bueno Morenito!!!’ Yeah I use to think that too, and I too was drunk..
So my aunt and cousins sit in the living room, watching the MJ top ten videos.. Again…
and little by little every one retires to their lives and I remain with Andrew and Fisher Price on the computer.
He KNOWS!!! Every time I sit down in that same spot on the table, HE KNOWS I’m gonna get on the computer and starts..
‘I wanna seeeee.. I wanna seeeee’ translation ‘ Stop what you thought you were gonna do and pay attention to ME’… He’s two.. if he were three I would have shoved his little ass and told him to fuck off.. or maybe its that I’m 34 and my patience has changed or matured or WHATEVER!!
Or is it that maternal thing they speak of.. so I give in and up on my lap he comes and we print out coloring pages and go over our A,B,C’s and play the animal match game… DAMN! My Leg is falling asleep!!
Grandma: – ‘Toma! Dale de comer’
YIPEE!! Feeding time for the little one and FREE time for me.. my aunt Carmen proceeds to feed him and I’m finally on and after checking some emails realize it wasn’t much that I HAD to do, and I would love for him to bug me again..
I wanna seeeee, I wanna seeeeee…
my cousin Tiesha starts cleaning and cleaning and the cleaning extends to the fridge.. wow, the fridge..
now the fridge in our house is not just the household appliance used to store food… it has become the appliance that stores food that then becomes scientific experiments that can evaluate the length of time foods can be stored WITHOUT going BAD.. You CANT throw food away in this house.. The only acceptable way food can be discarded in this house, is through a mouth. Willing or not, food will be reheated, rehashed, reused and/or recooked to be ‘re’served without us knowing. It is RIDICULOUS!! Fine, my grandma has lived through wartimes but COME ON!! Are you willing to food poison your family cause you don’t want to throw away last month’s half eaten birthday cake?!! I can see it now – 78 year old grandmother of Thirteen taken away in handcuffs for poisoning her family by serving two year old frozen beef steaks!! IM TOTALLY SERIOUS!! That was the last thing my cousin threw in the garbage – meat dated 2003!!
Now guys, don’t get me wrong, it is safe to eat in my house.. i do make sure all ingredients are freshly bought, its just be cautious of anything left to be defrosted!! KIDDING!!
My cousin’s wife and friend, Nancy texts me – ‘The lasagna was great, my mom Loved it’… SEEEE, it’s safe to dine at the Carvajal’s..
Time for Andrews’s bath and the last strawberry baba of the day…
He’s out on the sofa like a meth addict after his dose.. eyelids closing, head wobbly and arms fallen over, not wanting to let go of the bottle… OFF you GO MY MAN!! To bed it is… and I sit finally free of him, able to get back on the computer…
and tell about my August FIRST, Two thousand and 9
I returned home in December, cioe’ New York.. I departed Tuesday the 2nd… at JFK, took a cab, wishing that part of my life (airport arrivals) was more like the film ‘Love Actually‘
And re-realized that my life is not like in films.. but maybe one day it will be the storyline FOR one.. with my luck, I will be dead and will not get to see a dime…
I arrived and my mommy was downstairs waiting for me… this part I live for… she is my constant factor, bene o male, my common denominator, my security blankey, the one that knows what buttons to push, because she was the one that installed them, but lets move on, (She’s a whole other blog)…. she had my cab fare in hand.. what? did you think she would be downstairs in the cold waiting for me out of the goodness of her heart??..
I dragged my suitcases upstairs and realized that ALL of the plans I had, from the second I arrived were all ‘ralentate‘.. (to slow down).. If I keep stopping to think of the word I want in English, I will be done when it’s time to fly back in July.. I wanted to see so many people but didn’t have the time, and to make things worse, I got a head cold..
For the first days I stayed mostly home, I spent more time with my mom this time around, and I don’t regret it..
I saw Andrew again, he has gotten so big.. he called me ‘Annie’ cause I guess ‘Rosie’ was harder to pronounce.. I had bought him a coloring book, crayons, and markers at the Munich Airport.. and I saw how he loved to sing and dance to commercials on the Hispanic channels and how he would say ‘one, two, four, five…’
His father says he doesn’t like the number ‘three’… He’s so beautiful
Thursday came and I get a call around noon…
‘Hello, una sega…’ (literally in Italian : a hand job, kinda-like when we recapitulate ‘my ass’ when responding; ‘Hello’ – ‘Hello, my ass’)
right then and there I knew who would be so refined as to answer in such a way my morning Hello… Matteo Tucci… and the country boy from Florence it was.. he was in New York City.. too
I remember inviting him to lunch when I was in Italy and knew more or less that I was either going to take him to Smiths or to Danny’s job…
I never went to Danny’s job but I wanted to go and in as much as it was on Park Avenue I figured, Why Not?.. and so it goes..
We went that same day.. reservations for two at Park Avenue Winter.. I went to where he was staying on Sullivan Street by West 4.. took a cab and headed to lunch..
It was BEAUTIFUL… absolutely beautiful.. the whole place.. Danny pulled out all the stops.. is that how its said?..
We ate soo much.. from a simple entree to filet mignon, to salmon tartar.. and I had mimosas all the while.. and afterwards Danny took us down to the kitchen.. awesome as well.. there is a private room with a round table where you can sit and eat while viewing the kitchen..
He was impressed.. the usual question came up.. he asked.. ‘Rosa, what the hell are you doing in Florence?’..
aside from his initial reaction to when we entered the restaurant
‘Rosina, ma questo e’ un posto serio‘.. (Rosina, but this is a serious place)
DUH!! country boy, where did you think I was going to take you?..
It is funny how we perceive people.. how we think that they are above us when in reality, we are on the same wavelength or maybe sometimes we are higher without even knowing it.. and that’s how it was.. between him and I… the only thing that separates us is money.. the amount of money.. because when you look at us, I have studied and have achieved more than a degree, have more than 20 years of work experience that was NOT obtained in my father’s company, know and speak three languages and depend only on me.. He can’t say the same
But it’s funny how that it was because of his ‘simplicity’ that I loved him so..
I spent some time with myself.. I walked around Chelsea, discovering Barnes and Nobles is no longer on 6th and 22nd.. and had to walk to Broadway and 17th.. and stopped at EXPRESS and bought an undeserving Asshole some gifts.. and H&M.. and went to Fashion High.. why not? My steps always take me there.. I saw Ms. Barnett and Ms. Riviere and Ms. Trottman.. my old high school teachers.. and while I love re-seeing them.. it makes me feel old.. or rather it sets me back into my reality.. that it has in fact been ‘sixteen’ years since I graduated high school… SIXTEEN YEARS.. shit!! and I am happy to think that I have accomplished MORE than what I thought I would have by now… but maybe… or rather I have EXCHANGED experiences for others.. the important thing is not to regret.. and I keep asking myself… will I? The important thing for me was to finish my year in New York City.. among my family and friends, and I did..
I ended my 33rd year at home.. and I began it there..
I went to Smiths and ate ceviche, made by my littlest brother Alexis…
met Friends from the past.. David and Rafael.. and the most important people of my life.. Tiesha, Ralphy, Steve, Michelle and the beings that are now a part of their lives.. and Hugo and Victor, all on the 13th…
NOT to speak of the beautiful get-together hosted by Ms. Lovell herself.. and my seeing my handsome prince again… but that’s another BLOG…
Its 4 a.m. here in Italy.. I am watching ‘QUIZ’ in Italian… and I have to go to sleep..
But I will continue this one..
I’m not done.. because this is not all of it..
For my indecision.. to settle my mind
For my upset stomach? Of course.. a headache? Certainly..
For the lingering pain on my lower back? .. I found some caplets for my acidity that can take care of that..
But what about my racing thoughts?
Something for my constant need to know if I’m taking the right road?
A pill just in case I regret the decisions I make?
Is there something I can take?
There isn’t a pill for that..
What about my shortness of breath?.. wait, my asthma isn’t a problem anymore..
But the seconds that tick away are..
The seconds that turn into minutes like the sneeze that brings on a cough..
Quick, take vitamin C, yet there is no stopping the clock..
There must be something to make me feel happy? Yes there is
There must be something to numb the pain? Yes there is
But nothing for my worries..
Nothing for the possibility of failure, for love unrequited
Nothing for the dread of reaching that last minute unaccomplished..
Still no pill for that, but there is one cure
And like all effective medicines, it never goes down smoothly..
Me fuí, lejos, bien lejos, pero descubrí que no hay distancia quando hay amor I left, far, very far, but I discovered that there is no distance when there is love
Mi sono andata, lontano, molto lontano, ma ho scoperto che non ce distanza quando ce amore
Un año se convirtio’ en dos y despues tres, gracias a la magia de transformarme, que aprendí de niña A year turned into two, then three, thanks to the art of assimilation that I learned in childhood
Un anno divento’ due e dopo tre, grazie alla grazia d’il trasformarmi, che ho imparato da bambina
Y despues de cinco años, lloro porque en mi corazon no era sufficiente And after five years, I cry because in my heart it wasn’t enough
E dopo cinque anni, piango perche’ nel mio cuore non e’ stato abbastanza
Estos años me han enseñado tanto, me han hecho fuerte para lo que me queda de hacer These years have taught me so much, they have made me strong for what there is left to do
Questi anni mi hanno insegnato tanto, mi hanno reso forte per quello che mi manca da fare
Fueron mi decision y mi destino que me dieron risas a carcajadas y lagrimas como un río They were my decision and my destiny that gave me hearty laughter and tears like a river
Furono una mia decizione ed il mio destino che mi hanno datto delle risate e delle lacrime come un fiume
Me confermaron que de nada se puede arrepentir solo aprender y seguir adelante y esperar They confirmed that you should never be sorry for anything, just learn from it and continue and wait
Mi hanno confermato che di niente se ne puo’ pentire solo imparare e proseguire ed aspettare
Porque lo mejor está por llegar Because the best is to come
Perche il meglio sta per arrivare
Verás You’ll see
A reflection written while living in Florence about the 5 years I lived there from 2004 – 2009
The first decades of my life made me believe that you can do it all on your own..
Every obstacle life throws at you can be overcome and all you need is the true desire to want to be better off than your predecessors.. ‘wanna get outta the ‘hood? do it, only person stopping you is you’.
Yet what I have learned after being in the classroom and interacting with parents, single mothers, involved fathers, grandmothers, older siblings is that it does take all of us to assist in the making of a successful human being.
Today is the birthday of a former student, now almost graduate of FIT with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, for Fashion Design, not surprised if it will be Summa Cum Laude after experiencing first hand his incessant need for perfection.
I first met Fabian Salazar as a freshmen back in 2012. He was in his element at Fashion High. He came to school dressed to the nines with full on makeup, and six inch heels and his confidence was contagious. He was a cross between ‘the cool kid’ and ‘the nerd’, a combination not many know how to carry nor commit to. He was known to students and teachers alike, all for positive reasons and that’s why I always cared for his growth.
He was enrolled in my Fashion Illustration class and learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator could’ve been more challenging than his drawing skills, but he got it. Drawing fashion illustrations came naturally to him and his conviction of becoming a future designer along with his dedication is what compelled me to enter him in an Art competition at the time.
I remember going to the event seven years ago, knowing he would be there yet being surprised to meet not only his mom but his dad too.
The reality is that I gave into the real yet stereotype that not many LGBTQ children are supported by their parents, some even disown their own children when they come to learn of their children’s nature and the casualties are higher in minority communities. I thought ‘he’s Ecuadorian so don’t be surprised if they don’t show up’, but I was wrong.
I met a very beautiful young proud mom worthy of being a protagonist in a telenovela and a young modest dad that thought showing up for his son, was just ‘normal’ and then and there I remember thinking, ‘I don’t have to worry about him’. He’s going to be o.k.
There’s something that happens with teachers and some students, or maybe it’s just me.. When we meet certain students, that have this flicker, a hidden talent that we get to witness and there’s something that makes us want to protect it, protect them, nurture them.. and we worry about them and do what we can to make sure they thrive.. that doesn’t happen for all or to all, because I’ve also learned that it takes both the teacher as well as the student to WANT that flicker to ignite.
He has been patient and meticulous and non-discriminant about what he is willing to learn. His openness about what he can absorb has known no bounds and that drive lead him to enter Brooklyn Fashion Week by the end of his 3rd year of high school.
He composed a 10 look collection that met the standards of professional designers featured that year. To be that young and to know what your purpose is, is not experienced by many and to do humbly is an even bigger feat.
I remember wanting him to participate in Fashion’s Study Abroad Program that takes place in Florence, but experiencing a problem that I somehow didn’t understand. I went as far as going to the Italian Embassy so they could explain what the obstacle was. He had an Ecuadorian passport and the expiration date on it was too close to his return date to NYC. I still didn’t understand. That afternoon his mother called and tearfully said ‘Ms. Chavez’ he’s a dreamer’, confused I thought, ‘well of course he is, he’s full of ideas!! That’s what keeps his talent going’, I was clueless.. She was referring to DACA. Even though she may have thought it shameful, it made me respect him even more. The path he was on was non reliant on government assistance, and it was proving to be successful. The only thought was, how will he be able to finance college without financial aid? That remained to be seen.
Fabian went on to do the things all American high school teenager do, go to prom and graduate and get accepted to college.
At FIT, he received his Associates in Fashion Design and then moved on to his Bachelor’s, which he is scheduled to earn at the end of this semester.
All while working job after job as well as tutoring other students at FIT and student teaching at Fashion High.
Fabian has also shown to be a promising young adult. He was there to celebrate my successes, as I was there for his. He came to cheer me on the night I received my first CTE Teacher of the Year award.. He has given me faith in what some call ‘kindness’ by simply showing up. Generosity of time is rare and not many give it, therefore I am in awe when I witness it.. I definitely couldn’t have achieved an award such as that one without having students such as him… I believe the success of a teacher can be measured by the success of their students.
Today on Facebook, his mother posted a beautiful happy birthday reminder, letting him know how much of a blessing he has been and how proud she is of him.
I never doubted that, as her written love note for her son took me back to the days she use to call my classroom after school to check that he was indeed in the building and not in the street. for a teacher this could be concerning because you think that there is no trust between parent and child but I slowly came to realize her fears..
She is the mother of an LGBTQ child, worse, a PROUD LGBTQ child that didn’t care what the world thought and more power to them but the fact was that the only TWO places that cared and protected him was school and home..
we still live in a world that will hurt you, even see your death because you are that way.. and that was her fear
and so I welcomed her calls and reassured her he was o.k.
And today he’s more than o.k.
I believe that he would’ve gone this far all in his own because he’s not only talented, he’s resilient and tenacious and driven. All traits you must possess to thrive…
but he had a loving and supportive mother there for him, loving him unconditionally.
A loving family, father, grandparents, siblings.. a network of friends that formed a village to carry him through.
It breaks my heart to know so many LGBTQ children do not make it this far.
thinking that other ways of ‘getting to know’ people would be different…
Or rather that the reason why some people use these methods were different.. but they aren’t..
Man will always be man, doesn’t matter what century or millennium or level of technology.. if you go by donkey or on Eurostar.. the nature of man will never change..
And where does that leave us that wait.. we aren’t looking.. because in the end, you can look till you go crazy but what is destined for you will happen, whether you look for it or not, therefore.. I will wait and that’s it..
I was doing it because I don’t have the physical time to be at the ‘bar’, nor the latest trendy spot for happy hour.. but better yet, because we are connected.. always connected.. to this web.. wireless..
I thought, why not try.. I’m already on it, looking at my family from a distance, talking to them, laughing with them and my friends I left behind.. and so I was at the mercy of this thing that lays on my lap as if it were a part of my body.. without a wire..
but in love, ‘Rosa’ I say to myself.. ‘how do you think it possible to make contact ‘wireless’’..
if that relationship is like fabric, so many threads interwoven to make something as fragile as silk, easy to damage if you do not take care for it or it can be strong like cotton that stands the test of time for better or worse..
and it covers you, first your heart, ever so slowly, then your body.. your legs, your arms and finally your head.. cause if we speak frankly, when we fall in love, the heart is in command of everything.. everything.. it is not your eyes that look, it is your heart.. then later.. after many years.. 10, 20.. 30 if you’re lucky like those before you, that’s when your head takes over (logic).. How can you stand someone after all that time, without logic?!! Come On!!
But it’s always beautiful.. that fabric
if it weren’t for fear that stops us..
Wrong or not..
This is the translation of yesterday’s post on my experience of online dating while living in Florence.
In Italian the word ‘filo’ means both WIRE and THREAD, therefore when they say ‘senza filo’ that means wireless. This is where the comparison of wireless to fabric comes in.
I was born December 1974 in Washington Heights, New York City, back when the Children’s hospital of Columbia Presbyterian was known as Sloane Hospital for Women.
My mother and her family came from Dominican Republic while my father came from Ecuador; they were high school sweethearts at Brandeis, and only one year after graduation I came along.
And a year after that my mother passed away, leaving her mother to raise me.
My grandmother never finished elementary school in her country and never returned to school. Although she never received a formal education and spent most of her time as the ‘maid’ in her own rural home, her manners were not those of an ignorant country girl. She is soft spoken, courteous, considerate, and well-mannered with a profound respect and appreciation for knowledge and education.
Growing up, she moved the entire family to her country and at that time I entered the fifth grade. Not only were all the classes in Spanish, there were subjects I didn’t know existed. The Spanish wasn’t a problem because my grandmother never allowed us to speak English at home. ‘Cuando entren por esa puerta, hablen español, y solamente español. Aquí somos Hispanos y aquí se habla español!’. She was very definite in all her demands and never wavered and even if at the time we hated to have to just watch Spanish channels or translate everything for her, I don’t think she is aware of the huge ‘favor’ she did us, or maybe she does.
School in Dominican Republic was extremely challenging. It was unlike school at P.S.192 in Harlem; I still remember that fourth grade year before we departed. The first half of the year I was placed in an advanced class, a very diverse set of faces, white, black and Hispanic children but when January came around and my grandmother decided we were leaving, she went to the school to have me changed to an ESL class. She believed it would be better for me to be in a class with other ESL kids before our departure. I hated it, the lessons seemed to drag on and everything became so boring; the little fire I had within was slowly dwindling.
When we arrived, it’s as if I had entered another time on another planet. The hot climate, the pebbled roads, the barefoot half-dressed kids in the streets begging for water or armed with wooden boxes offering to shine your shoes for a quarter, it was all surreal and initially didn’t make sense just as the ‘Morales y Civica’ classes and ‘Caligrafia’. In my former school, morals and civics were never discussed and they surely didn’t care for calligraphy. So after a while when I noticed that classes such as algebra and physics were part of the daily routine, that became the norm, and the little fire began to blaze again.
As middle school came to an end, the matriarch decided it was time to go back to the States because according to her, an American high school diploma would be more considered than one from the islands when applying for college. She covered all her bases, sending us to an English institute on weekends to make sure we wouldn’t forget English and sending us to an Art school after school when she noticed we had talent, because despite her limited schooling she knew that given talents cannot grow if not given the means to flourish.
I was shipped to my father in Astoria, whom by that time had a family of his own. He had remarried and was on his fourth son when I started ninth grade in Long Island City High School. My father at the time was also going to night school to further his career as a Chef in a restaurant where he started out as a dishwasher in the late 70’s. We rarely saw him but were constantly reassured that this sacrifice was for the greater good.
High school came and went and many thanks are given to the teachers that made it bearable. Ms. Rifkin, the guidance counselor at LIC High School, whom informed me, after viewing my amateurish portfolio of dressed models, that there was a High School in Manhattan that catered to future ‘designers’ such as me. Mr. Cohn, the Occ. Ed. Teacher that said ‘Choose a career that you LOVE and you will always Love to go to work’ will always remain fresh in my mind as well as Ms. Carter, my first fashion design teacher that always kept me busy, because she noticed my restlessness and even allowed me to repair the sewing machines when they jammed. And I will never forget Dorothy Strauss, former English teacher, because she said I should be a teacher. The mere words made me laugh and I excused my laughter, because I thought them a bad joke, but she saw something I didn’t and she was right.
I obtained a spot in the SVA program, sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Ed., for CTE students that aspire to become high school teachers within their subject. The year I started, only five students were accepted into the program, out of over ninety applicants. I was the only young woman as well. After five years, you are guaranteed a spot as a teacher in your trade, but I was told that unlike other fields of study, in order to teach my field I need a college degree. Then there was FIT.
In the FIT years, I substituted in order to pay the rent and every other expense that came my way. Two years was the initial plan but an Associates could never be enough for someone like me and then came the Bachelors. Magna Cum Laude was more like it and the last year spent studying abroad in Italy finished that period in my life and commenced the next. I was taught to always follow through on all plans and never deviate from the plan therefore after graduation, the plan was to return and start teaching; that was not what happened. One year in Italy turned into five and that’s where I truly learned that ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making plans’.
Aside from all of the art and design lessons and jobs as designers I had in Italy, my experiences in this new culture have taught me the following: work to live and not the other way around, make time to enjoy what is truly important, and yes, for better or worse, family is truly essential. Get to know them and you’ll get to know yourself. If there isn’t time to do it now, relax, there is always tomorrow, the world will not end if it doesn’t get done right away. Appreciate your health and body by eating right and exercising, if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Spend time amongst your friends or people that can add to your talents and skills and never, ever waste a day. I really believe that it all summed up to make me a better teacher for my future students.
I returned June 2009 and while I awaited a teaching job, accepted a temp designer job in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I knew I wouldn’t stay but the more I could learn about anything design, I accepted. I never cared for the money I earned, as long as it was enough to live on and cover my student loans, I was actually happy because I saw its actual value, building my knowledge for my students. And so it happened, I began as a fashion design teacher in September 2010 at Fashion Industries High School, eighteen years after I graduated from that same school.
I’m on my third year and can see myself being carried out in a body bag. I am one very happy, satisfied, exhausted, restless, dedicated, and devoted teacher that knows she made the right decisions in the short path she has lead thus far. I am also aware that there are many more hurdles and the fact that I welcome them proves I am insane. I can add this Masters as one, and I am confident I will achieve this one as well. My experiences are not over. I make it a point to learn something new every day, the more I know is the more I can teach my students. My travels do not define me, they just add to who I am becoming. It is my belief that a true teacher should never give up in their quest, to believe and accept that you can never stop learning is the true path to greatness (along with humility, something else I picked up in Italy) To believe you are done when it comes to your field is when you are actually done. ‘The day you stop learning is the day you die’ – Ms. Wright, Speech and Communication teacher at City College.
So far, it has been exciting to live the life of a young woman born from Hispanic immigrants. I have been the example of all that is preached in this country, ‘work hard and there is nothing you cannot achieve’, ‘the opportunities are out there, you just have to want and go after it and it will happen’, a true product of the American dream. Besides everything that my grandmother has done for us and the example my father has given, I have also realized that it was all possible because I wanted it. This is the ultimate lesson I want to teach my students.