Soy Dominicana. No importa si estoy en un rincon o en el Ritz Carlton.
During a ride on the Bx11 to my old Washington Heights apartment I watched as the American flag waved in a nearby park. I let my thoughts wander and I thought to myself..."Wow, both of my flags are red, white and blue." I jotted this down in my journal. I started thinking about the similarities and the contrast in my childhood in DR and my formative years in Brooklyn. I thought about all the experiences my friends, family have. I got off the bus at my stop and in the middle of 181st and St. Nicholas in front of the tables that sell jugos naturales and pastelitos I wrote down all my thoughts. Four drafts later, this piece was born. It was published in DominicanWriters.com
"Red, White and Blue"
Dominican born American raised. But I am more than just merengue and mangu. My existence stretches out further than just being another girl from the hood.
I am the colors of el sol Caribe as its resting. Visions of palomas blancas, knocking down mangos and coconuts, climbing up new heights to reach for more treats from the tamarindo tree.
Women walking, heads bowed, their backs heavy- filled to the brim with coffee beans and leaves picked off straight from the valleys lined with trees.
Infinity pool resorts. My grandmother's humble abode in el campo. Lush green grounds to play golf in. Dirt roads littered with children who wash car windows for a few pesos.
Our lechon roasting in the open fire. Sancocho, tostones, aguacate y arroz blanco. I can't roast a pig in my backyard anymore but I can call up one of my primos at the bodega or the delivery restaurant- a token Dominican spot if I want more of that red, white, and blue!
Jabon de cuaba y powder Mexzana. Fresh after taking a shower with buckets full of cold water en el patio. Sittin’ down to eat en familia. Memories of fishing the cilantro leaves out of my beans. Coming to NYC, correcting my other friends “We don't call them frijoles they’re habichuelas coño!”
Hookah smokin’ on the block, stock market ordering at the bakery for pan con queso y cafe con leche. Women waiting at the salon, their hair in rolos threatening to frizz every time they stick their heads out the door in NYC humidity to keep an eye on their kids.
On the lookout for the coquito man or piragua cart. Taking Instagram selfies after our run over the George Washington Bridge. Bottomless mimosas Sundays for me “¡Los Domingos se limpia! ¡No es para fiesta!” My Mami screams.
The local viejos clock in to their shifts on milk crates in front of the building, old and young playing domino “Capicu venticuatro!” I hear. Don’t forget about “Trankazo!”
Bursting into random street dances when an old Anthony Santos song welcomes us as it blasts from the Camry down the block. Waves of nostalgia as the guitar croons in our taxi cab “Preparate, que se solto Teodoro!"
Curse words used as terms of endearments when responding to my friends “Dime aver loco!” or KLK MMG if I’m texting.
Dominican cultura ingrained from within, Americana customs because of the city I was raised in. What I'll see is what I'll be, the statistics preached to me. I took it in my own hands created my own destiny. Here I am writing piece by piece my trajectory without ever forgetting my history.
Living my Latina-American dream accomplishing the things my parents struggled to come true. As I continue to grow under the red, white and blue.
Copyright © 2015 Mariela Regalado