Friday, November 14, 2008

Dreams of My Father

Still reeling from my first election ever, my first American election.

I was born here, lived here till I was barely two and went back to Manila where I grew up. I was Mama & Papa's 'American Pie.' I have vivid memories of trips to the American embassy to renew my passport as a girl. I remember the big gates, ducking the long queues of visa applicants to the section marked 'US Citizens Services.' In my twenties when the Philippines was in turmoil I remember a different trip to the embassy, this time to start a process of petition for my father's US citizenship. We never carried this through, he is Spanish and now enjoys his EU status. However, his American dream still burns bright in his grandfather-happy heart.

Last night, following the election results closely, seeing the new voices of new blaze and dazzle I was astounded. Beyond words, beyond tears, stunned silent. Heart warmed, eyes wide I saw the dreams of my father coming true. I saw the world that seduced him, seduces him still. I saw a better world for my dear nephews. Where anything is truly possible for everyone. They CAN do anything now. And they will do everything they dream to.

I finally felt like I belonged to a country that was my birthplace but had no real affinity for. I get it now. THIS is what my father dreamed for me. THIS is what Mama meant when she called me her American Pie. I am part of this, this new world. I helped conquer this hurdle.

Wherever life takes me, I will carry this in my heart.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My American Romance

I am his mistress. We are having an affair and I am his mistress.

We decided this last month, my lover and I. Only, he isn't married. I am his mistress and he is cheating on his 'solo life,' as he calls it. After four years together, three long distance and this past year actually in the same country, we may have figured something out about adult love.

When two fiercely independent people living expansive lives fall in love and come together, the only choice is to make room. Make room for each other, make room for the love affair, make room for oneself. Converging then diverging, we are learning a new language around love. The old, conventional nuances don't translate well into our love affair.

There was a life before me, this life was vital and fulfilling. This life continues, now that I am in his world. I have met most of the people he loves, his dearest friends and family. There is a world he belongs to which I can visit, but am not a part of. I don't have to be, just like he doesn't have to be part of the life I had before I met him. He has met my friends and family, but he will never get the inside jokes, the nuances of culture, language and dialect. He is welcome in this world, he enjoys it even. But he will never know it like I do. He will never love it like I do. It's in my cells, not his.

It's a fascinating thing, this. To dare have it all. To challenge love, life and myself this way. To affirm that I am not that kind of woman, the one whose life is so entwined with her partner's. To enjoy being that kind of lover - gentle, brazen and accessible.

My American romance is in fact more European in texture than it is American. There is no English word to describe each other. Boyfriend/Girlfriend feels too juvenile, Fiance/e suggests marriage. There are French words I will not attempt to spell, they feel more appropriate. For now, I am mistress, lover, partner, woman. He is my beau, my lover, the beloved.

I am woman first, mistress next.
He is man first, beau next.
Our love affair seeps into each one's life, energizing but never weighing it down.

I am his mistress, we are having a love affair. We are in love.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A New New-York-Attitude

It's been over a year since my suitcases and I arrived in New York, I've seen the seasons cycle and I feel comfortably poised as I face year 2 squarely.

For most of my life, I've let my practical foot lead. But coming to New York and claiming a fresh start - that was me leading with the dreaming foot. Taking that dreaming foot leap has led me to an adventure like never before. An adventure equally thrilling and confusing, inspiring and exhausting. On some days, I felt lost and off-rhythm. On other days, I felt completely in sync. Then somehow when the Spring came I started feeling the ground solidly under my feet again.

Could this mean I've found my New York groove?

Could this mean there's a bounce in my step again?

Could this mean I've found my 'new attitude' the famous divas sang about?

I think so.

I feel a renewed sense of confidence about things and tremendous belief in myself. I woke up this morning and I was chipper. Like I have not been in a while. Like Maria in "The Sound of Music" - I have confidence.

And you know what, I think I'm still leading with the dreaming foot. Because you know what else, the practical foot is liking this New York groove.

War Poem

There’s a war going on just underneath my skin
a quiet, harrowing war of the unspeakable
a war unfought. Never lost, never won

A mole under my left eye, eternal tear
weeping for a flock of Japanese soldiers
who killed my husbands but spared my skin

Under my knee, a gash from a weary fall
of grandfathers who marched to their death
then lived to see their liberation from the Japanese

Dynasties of fabric seeking the perfect lotus
feet bend my arches into breaking, making
each step excruciating

On my left cheek, a disapproving brother’s signature
marked in acid, proud announcement to the world
little sister is a dirty girl not worthy of dowry

Beneath my breasts, lungs damaged in the fall
down the well in the woods when fathers
wanted only Chinese baby boys

A thousand bastard mongrel babies fathered by friars
cysts in my left ovary now severed by a doctor
marking forever the female parts of my childless body