Imagine your entire maternal side of your family being completely wiped the fuck out by giant, screaming, fire-breathing sea turtle by the name of Maria.
I know. The shit sounds like some fucking overblown scene out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy and a dash of Game of Thrones mythology. But for the two hours or so that I did sleep last night, that dream was the dream that kept replaying in my head over and over and over like a scratched up DVD playing in a player some crackhead sold me at a bargain.
After waking up from my 3rd or 4th watching of Maria, The Fire Breathing Sea Bitch, I turned on the television to The Weather Channel for an update on the exact location of the Wicked Witch of the Caribbean. A part of me prayed to God, the Fat Boys, and anyone else you can think of that this monster of a hurricane would suddenly two-step its way away from the little island of my ancestry, but instead – it continued to Cupid Shuffle up toward an eventual landfall as the worst hurricane to hit the island since the Great Fucking Depression.
The other part of me felt guilt, though. Guilt because I felt slightly obsessed and fascinated by the destructive possibilities of such a hurricane. It wasn’t that I wanted anyone to be harmed by it, but there was a novelty about it all. A curious child-like fascination that wanted to see the storm fuck some shit up without it actually ever having to fuck some shit up. After all, these kinds of things don’t happen very often: Kind of like an eclipse you have to wear specialized sunglasses to see – and yet, those sunglasses don’t work – at all.
It would all give way to fear, however. Fear of tragedy yet again striking the maternal side of my family. It’s like we’re forever doomed because of some shit one of our family members had done somewhere in the course of history. As far back as the forties, unlikely events have happened to mi familia for no other reason than just being brown, unlucky motherfuckas.
For instance, there’s the time my great grandfather was hit by a car after crossing the street go bet on some horse. Then there’s the fact that both of my grandparents have died from Cancer – one after another – leaving a family tree’s worth of children, great-grand children, and other relatives in their wake.
My uncle – of whom I’m named after– was shot and killed in 1979 fucking around with gangs. And another uncle jumped from a natural waterfall in Puerto Rico and broke his neck. That uncle didn’t die, though, astonishingly. What eventually killed him was the incompetent nurse that hooked up his colostomy bag incorrectly. Which is funny in a macabre kind of way because my mother always told me that that particular uncle was full of shit. Oh, the poetic justice of it all.
And now, as if fate was just becoming a lazy fucker after all these years, a Category 5 hurricane was in prime position to wipe out the rest of my family on my mother’s side all at one gawd damn time because my remaining aunts, an uncle, cousins, etc. all still live on the island. So here I am. Terrified. Obsessed. Curious. But hopeful. All at the same damn time.
My Puerto Rican heritage is kept alive by my connections to the Caribbean. And now, because some punk ass storm with a mysterious gripe that only God himself knows, I risk losing a huge piece of my spirit. My mother would be the last connection to borinquen part of me that is flavored in sazon and arroz con gandules and seared in latin spice. Hell, we don’t even speak Spanish to each other much anymore. And the thought is scary because I don’t want to become just another American with a blended background that is nothing more than a walking, talking human potluck.
My heritage has a foundation. And it exists in my family that lays their head on my homeland. A homeland that is slowly being withered away by American colonialism. A culture that would most certainly be wiped away with statehood. A culture that will soon be eaten alive by a giant, screaming, fire-breathing sea turtle named Maria – only to be built and replaced by Uncle Sam and his hands of greed and ambition.
This is why I weep. Not just for the storm and for what it will do. But for the day after and what happens next.