I was twenty-one years old when I left the island. I remember opening my parent’s door one night after making the decision to leave, to say: “I’m moving to New Orleans”. They stared as I closed the door. When I heard my mom say. “Wait, what!?”
I thought that leaving was the only answer to the constant angst I felt everyday. There had to be more out there. The world is so big. I needed to experience something else. I dreamt of living in Europe. Following the footsteps of my favorite heroines, Jane Eyre from Charlotte Brontë’s novel of the same name. And Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. New Orleans, with its European history was close enough to my dream and home. In case my adventure into the wild, wild world out there didn’t go as planned. I remember the day I left, like it was yesterday. Walking down the stairs to the street, crying, waving goodbye to my mother. A weird feeling. I wonder if it’s the same feeling baby animals have when they finally leave the mom behind to find their independence through the wilderness. Off I went. With no idea of where I was going or what was going to happen.
Now almost seventeen years later. I still think about the reasons why I left and why I may not go back to live there full time. But I adore my home. The people, the food, the music, the spirit. And of course, the beautiful beaches that surround our little island. It’s funny, the beaches I’ve been lucky enough to visit on my travels always remind me of home. Yesterday, the nostalgia was amplified ten fold. When I saw the thousands of people marching down the biggest highway in San Juan. Protesting our governor. Urging him to step down for being an unethical and awful leader. I agree with them all! And I am very sad that I can’t be there to scream at the top of my lungs and dance in the rain with everyone. Demanding they give us back the respect and freedom they have slowly chipped away from the people living on the island for 121 years.
A couple of months ago, my mom sent me a picture of my dad walking our lovely puppy down by the beach. Every time I look at it, I know he’s walking down that shore thinking how good it feels to be free. And I hope every single one of us Puerto Ricans on the island or somewhere else in the world can experience the same.
As I get ready to finally make one of my dreams come true, and move to Poland in the fall to teach English and Spanish; I want the people from my country to fulfill there’s too. To be sovereign, free. I truly believe that it will be possible. Our people have a spirit and a will so strong it can move mountains (and US armies off our land). And no matter where I am. I’m taking my little island with me, sharing the magic and passion for life everywhere I go! Like the song from Fiel a la Vega (a band from my youth) says: “I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon”.
In Spanish it goes like this:
Y así yo le grito al villano
Yo sería borincano
Aunque naciera en la luna.
In solidarity ALWAYS!