Notes from the Diaspora – Huracan Maria, Day 2

Melinda Gonzalez


September 21, 2017


The diaspora waits. We wait. Images splattered on Facebook screens and I can only turn to voices and music and silence and hiding and writing to deal with all of this. The last time I stepped foot in Moca was in 2014. No one was home. My mother and I wait, pero, nothing.  We drove off.  Moca was different, then. Not the Moca of my childhood where everyone was family. No big field for cows.  Abuelita had long since died. Abuelo, too. And Abuela.  This place that was home was becoming a stranger to me.  I get flashbacks of Arecibo. And Crash Boat beach. The hills of Moca and Abuelita’s jamaca.I remember my grandfather and his brown skin, shirtless with sweat glistening. We picked up gandule pods, together.  There were parchas in the backyard that we would pluck with our hands. The mound of fire ants, and the first boy I ever loved.  We would sit one day outside of my grandfather’s house and he would tell me about los Tres Reyes Magos. I would shy away from my first kiss there on that very stoop. Nervous as my family watched, encouraging me to love this boy. His eyes like half moons, hair cut into a bob, hanging across his eyebrows. After Abuelo died, we would visit less and less. Mami said it hurt too much to be there. To remember. And I just wanted to remember, but we wouldn’t talk about why – why that house was a place that she could no longer step foot in. I would let Mami mourn but slowly lose touch – disconnected. I would feel myself detaching.  And, today – as no news come – as the streets of Boriken fill with darkness upon nightfall – I wrestle with the feeling of imposter. I long for the Moca of my childhood. I long for Abuela on the back porch in his dark khaki pants.  I yearn for the sound of the guiro on Tio Pily’s band. I yearn for Julio’s couch. And I miss him.  I discover as I search that more and more of us moved here. That more and more of us are safe from the torrential downpours of La Huracan Maria. But this emptiness envelops me – this disconnect – this immense awareness that death and disconnect tied together are – palatable.  I yearn to return.  I yearn for the sounds of un quatro, for the flower patterned sofa en Funda’s sala. I yearn to touch that trees. I yearn to walk on that grass. I yearn for the memories of muddy slides and bathing in the rain, for letrinas, even. For the fire ants I let kiss my feet. I miss it all. And all I can give are these words. This touch of healing. This recognition of disconnect.


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