Gratefulness

Beholden to my Mother.

I’d say that’s true.

For loving me so much she’d rinse my crying eyes of shampoo.

Beholden to my Father.

For there’s no doubt 

that he opened the door for all the laughter the world would allow.

Beholden to my sisters.

There’s no room to question

that they’d cross the universe with me at the slightest suggestion.

Beholden to my brother.

For that is certain.

His smile fills the room like the sun when you draw back the curtains.

Beholden to my Grandmother,

I’ll always believe

her spirits larger than anything I could conceive.

Beholden to my heart 

with no hesitation 

Their love fills it with a joy beyond explanation.

Advertisements

I spoke on stage for the first time & I didn’t die 


I spoke at an open mic for the first time in a long time at Busboys. It was a poem that I’d written for my Dad’s birthday in March but been too nervous to share. 

I was given a voice & I can’t let fear be the thing to halt me & keep me from moving forward. 

Fear has been a driving force in my life and has informed too many of my behavioral choices to the point that it’s ingrained in me. Fearful thoughts are the first thing I hear. With that fact echoing in my head, I still have to step forward. I won’t grow if I don’t. 

And my biggest fear is being stuck. Never growing. I have to hush these voices if I want to step into the light, out of my comfort zone towards true authenticity. 
There is no other option. My parents cannot speak, so I speak for them. I won’t let fear blind the path of potential any longer. Sure, I’ll always be afraid, but I won’t let that be a reason for me not to speak. I will feel that fear & go. Feel the fear & go. Go.

Happy 50th Mommy 😊


Happy Birthday to the strongest, funniest, and wildest woman I ever knew. Happy Birthday to the woman who taught me how to walk, laugh & listen with my heart. Happy Birthday to my best friend, my reason for living, & my source of strength. I love you with every single part of me – from my toes to my lungs. Happy 50th Birthday Mommy, Tovoia, Tinka! 💕💕💕 We’ll see eachother again one day. 

|Chasing Recollection|

Chasing Recollection
I had a mother. Sometimes I can’t remember her looks

To spark my brain, I look thru her bins of Polaroids and unfinished photo-books

Her smile presents flashes of times, distorted, but shared

Slender hands, big laugh and coiled dark hair

Time passes, my eyes close, and her face leaves again

In darkness, I see her nose, more distinct now than it was then.

Large, to the point of cartoonish, I know it’s only in my mind’s eye.

It’s shiny, sharp, and Latin and death-defyingly high.

My brain forgets a face, but remembers a nose that stands tall.

 I’d rather have this piece of her than nothing at all.

Now, hope clings tight for memories to come.

What’s next to find? An eyebrow? A thumb?

Any reminder of her presence will satisfy me now.

Until the ache of loss is overcome by all the joy the universe will allow.

I have a mother and she has me too.

Time steals memories, but Angels can make them new.

Re-building from rubble.

A lot has changed for me since I last wrote. In March last year, my father died.

I’ve lost a parent before, but this was different. This was final.  No longer was there a foundation of the kind of love, support, and hope that was the relationship I had with my Mom and Dad. Suddenly, I was 24 with no where to stand. I say sudden because that’s what it was (another reason it was different from my mom’s death). His death was painful for him, I know that. I had it described to me. It was sudden, swift and , in my opinion, violent. No one wants that.

I am thankful and saddened that I wasn’t there when he passed. I was on the 0ther side of the world, planning my next project as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Indonesia. I was nearing my second year, and I was only shy of 2 months when everything happened.

When my sister told me quietly over Skype that our Dad had just died, I immediately began grabbing things and throwing them into bags. It didn’t matter what is was that I grabbed, as long as my hands were busy and my mind was occupied. I used packing as a excuse to avoid my host family through that entire day. I knew the moment my sister told me about Daddy that I wouldn’t be returning to Indonesia.

The good-bye to my host-mom was painful and short…I made sure to time it that way. I didn’t want to see her cry or hear her ask when I was coming back. She did both in that small window of time. She hugged me tighter than I knew she was capable and cried for her own loss and for mine. I think she knew I wasn’t coming back either, but she asked any way. I answered in a small voice over and over again “Saya tidak tahu” (I don’t know) and then I was gone.

Now, a little over a year later, I can say the pain of losing my Dad and the experience surrounding it runs deeper than I’ve ever experienced. When my mother died when I was 20, I still had my father. I still had him and he was there. He promised to be here when I came back. His hugs meant the world to me…they always have. His smell. His laugh. His smile. 

My mother’s death left a void that never healed and losing my father widened the gap. The pain of her death echoes inside me, but my Dad’s absence screams. It wracks my body at night and leaves me exhausted through the day. Not only did I lose my best friend and strongest source of affirmation, but I was ripped away from a family I’d built in Indonesia. I could go back (& I will) but the pain of that night will always be with me in some form or another.

I am 25 with no parents. Though my parents are no longer here, I can still find joy in the family I left behind. My 2 sisters, brother, and I lean on each other for support. We hold each other up. We are each other’s foundation.  We’ll take road trips with my father’s urn in the back seat, blasting his favorite music with the window’s down. We’ll scream the lyrics till the sun sets. We’ll find joy with each other and the people who love us.

I decided that life is decidedly short & I will fill this void with as much happiness that I can find. This past year, I’ve been scrambling for a sense of self and I’ve found it by embracing every single part of me. I am a living memory of Quentin and Tovoia. Those are the parts of me and they are beautiful. I leaned on my father’s foundation of affirmation to help me navigate a world that told me I wasn’t enough. I still lean on that foundation and I embrace it. This life I’m living is mine and I choose to live it the way I see it.

Hitam Manis

“Hitam manis” (Indonesian for sweet black) is not a compliment. When you first hear it, it may feel like one, but after the 100th reminder that you are the “black” exception to a long-held standard ideal of beauty, it is a slap to the face. And the sting resonates long after the words are spoken.
It’s the same as hearing “oh you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”. Sometimes it’s said like the words are a gift of light I’ve been searching for in a dark room of insecurity and uncertainty. Quite the opposite. It is not a confirmation of beauty; it feels like words urging me to hold tighter to the foundation of what I consider beautiful: An all encompassing, infinite beauty. An all-color, all-shape beauty. I am not “Hitam manis”. I will not claim something that negates someone else, my history and the history of others.
I am beautiful. Plain and simple.

IMG_4534.JPG

Connection In the in-between

The last I held my mothers hand, her fingers intertwined with mine. Our hands were exactly the same size. It was like holding my own hand.
I realized ,in some way, my sisters and I were stepping into a place that my mother was moving away from. Her hand was my hand and it’d never fit so perfectly before.

Since then, I’ve looked everywhere for that fit.We love those who fit the peculiar voids within us, our hollow wounds. We love to fill the spaces old loved ones left behind. This filling feeling that I feel is never permanent (though it lingers). It comes and goes in comfortable familiarity with friends or strangers, a connection brought on by raw openness and honesty, and in moments of reflection. I live for those moments, but that doesn’t mean I feel lost in the between. Seeking these moments of connection, between the spaces, is thrilling. It’s an adventure that began the first time I held my mothers hand and mine only wrapped around one of her fingers. Though, I don’t physically hold everyone’s hand that I meet, it is in that moment of authenticity and genuine happiness that I feel the warmth of the spirit of humanity’s hand, tugging mine to wander the uncharted. I will follow.

IMG_4480.JPG