Almost three months ago, exactly one week before our eleventh-year anniversary, I married the love of my life. It was truly the most beautiful day of my life. It was everything I needed. It was everything I wouldn’t dare dream of as a child lost in the Haitian clouds. It was magical.
On the day of the wedding, a mesmerizing storm lifted me from my sleep around six in the morning. I looked at the mountains, hidden from the sun, kissed by the dark, grey clouds, and I smiled. My ancestors were with me, celebrating before the festivities even started. I could feel them dancing underneath the deep dark clouds. As I get older, I no longer associate darkness with sadness, and so I knew that the dark morning was everything but somber. My great grandmother was crying, and they were tears of joy. I knew that because that’s what I do, too, when I’m really happy. I cry.
In addition to being a full time student at the university, I served on the board of several on-campus organizations, worked three part-time jobs, and during the holiday season, I'd scour the student center website and craigslist for random gigs. During my freshman year, I found a dish-washing/serving opportunity at a wealthy family's home in a town near my campus on Thanksgiving. It offered $15-$20/hour just to help clear tables, wash dishes, and tidy the kitchen.
I remember that day clearly because I'd never experience anything of the sort. It was my first time ever setting foot in a wealthy American home. It was the kind of home I read about when I was just an awkward, skinny, dreamer-girl in Haiti. The kind of home I thought I'd move into when the US called for me, not the one-bedroom apartment in Newark my parents, little brother, and I found refuge to during my early teenage years. The place that collected most of my tears.
At the table, the calm air danced around us. A cat brushed past Regine's ankles, and she froze. She's terrified of them I learned that day. I dug in my plate of akra (malanga fritters), and waved the server over for more pikliz (a condiment made of picked shredded cabbage and hot peppers that I can't live without.) I had a bottle of cold Prestige just a few inches away from my big plate of Haitian fritay. That afternoon was to be cherished for a long time.
My mother turned 51 this year. As part of her birthday gift, I told her I wanted photograph her. The thought came to me on the bus from Vermont one random morning. I called her immediately with the idea, and I could tell she was just as excited as I was. I wanted to make her feel beautiful and special, and I figured this would be a great way to connect.
We planned to meet one afternoon after I was done at the office. I grabbed my makeup "kit" from the bedroom, set it on the kitchen counter, and went to work. While doing her makeup, I felt this strong connection between us. Like my great grandmother was watching us, smiling.
This past weekend was a dream. I celebrated my bachelorette party with eight amazing friends from different stages of my life who all came together to plan a beautiful evening that led to a two day event. I couldn't help but feel full that night. Full of love. Full of light. Full of gratitude. Full of life.
I met a man outside of a garden on a small street in Harlem yesterday. Let's call him "D". He bent down, pulled out a bag of cat food and made a careful spread on two paper plates, then slid them underneath the fence. He patiently waited as multiple cats appeared from the flowers, rocks, and all kinds of little nooks to attend the feast. Earlier, I noticed when he walk past me from where I was standing, but I was focused on the bee buzzing all over the sunflower I was trying to photograph.
Everything I have, I've earned. I was born in Haiti and raised by a young mother who was figuring out what life was all about just like I was. Although we didn't have much, we were lucky to live in a nice house built by my great grand-mother and uncle, and I was privileged enough to attend a good school. When I think about it now, many sacrifices were made for me in order to live the life I had in Haiti. But everything changed when we moved to the states. We went from living in a two story house with over five bedrooms to a one-bedroom apartment in Newark. Life was tough.