the ties that bind

Over the long weekend I went to Virginia to visit my cousin Carolina. Going to Virginia always feels like going home. Every summer growing up I stayed at least a month with either my grandmother or my aunt and uncle. Every corner of the house Carolina grew up in is filled with memories. Every time I walk past the guest bathroom, which still has shimmery seventies wallpaper, I remember running in, from a savage game of war with my cousins in the front yard, to fill up water balloons in the sink, and the trouble I got in when I accidentally dropped one on the wood floor. Every time I pass the door to the basement I remember a game of cops and robbers that left me handcuffed to the basement staircase when one of my boy cousins lost the key. In a way, in Virginia, I got to have a kind of suburban life that I never had in Puerto Rico. One where we rode our bikes to the local pool and ran around outside until the sun set late into the night.

Carolina and her husband live in the apartment where my grandmother used to live. This is the apartment where Carolina and I went into the guest bathroom as brunettes one afternoon and emerged a light shade of peroxide copper a half hour later thanks to a bottle of Sun-in we conned someone into buying for us. Across the street from that apartment there used to be a movie theater where I watched E.T. nine times, Annie six, and the first of the Batman movies at least twice. If I stand still long enough I can almost see my grandparents in their bedroom or in the kitchen. Thankfully, the incredibly awkward 8×10 fifth-grade portrait, where I’m wearing a mint green denim vest with a baby pink t-shirt, has been taken down from the wall, and hopefully burned.

Carolina is a year and half older than me.  When we were little we would make our moms buy us the same outfits so we could pretend we were twins but in reality she’s rosy-colored and I’m olive. Her hair is straight and mine is wavy. She’s a skinny-minnie and I’m curvy. And our politics are at opposite ends of the spectrum. When I was little my heart did cartwheels whenever she was around. It still does actually. Sometimes there is nothing lovelier than time spent with someone that has known you your entire life, who knows you through and through, and completely understand the ins and outs of your specific family. And it was wonderful and truly inspiring to see how sweetly her marriage has bonded and evolved as it has navigated hardships and obstacles.

On Sunday we went to see  Gabriela, the daughter of a friend of my mom’s, in an Arthur Miller play. She was intensely good, and I kept thinking of how deep one must dig to unearth something compelling and how much one also has to surrender.

On Monday I went to the zoo in DC by myself and wandered around looking at the elephants, silverback gorillas, and tigers with that mixture of sadness and awe that zoos tend to inspire. I rode the metro and the vertigo inducing escalator of the Adams Morgan station with my fantasies and longing firmly planted across several countries and an ocean, where I have been pretending, somewhat foolishly since the summer, to remember and forget them.

I returned to LA happy and with new shoes but also arguing with my heart. Telling it it was a sucker and a nit-wit for harboring the desire to date someone who wasn’t present and available, for liking someone that feels impossible. I woke up knowing, AGAIN, that is easier to pretend that I don’t like him. It’s just easier to tell myself- let it go- every time I think of him than it is to pine for him. It is better to just hold him in my heart as a catalyst because when we correspond my lust and my ego go crazy, and all I want to hear is, I guess what any girl wants to hear from the guy she likes, that he will do anything to try to be with me because he doesn’t want to be with out me.

All of this has got me thinking about what is solid and grounded. How amazing and guiding it feels to have  fallen in love with my own creative path, for one, and seeing how all the things that interest me begin to combine. Everything in my life is really great right now, really good things are happening. I need to be grateful and not let my inner Veruca Salt tell me otherwise. I struggle to be present but when I’m not I miss the feelings of security, stability, and sensuality that noticing the richness and the details of the moment, and distilling its guiding whispers bring me.