Friday, December 18, 2015


It’s fall now, so when I leave my apt I have to remember to grab a jacket. I walk down the stairs to the lobby of my building and pass the young children playing ball in the hallway. As I approach the door to exit, I hold it open for an elderly lady who is coming in. She passes me and says, “Gracias, Mi Amor.” I smile at her. And I smile because I am home.

Home, literally. But more importantly, home in the figurative sense. Although I have only lived in my upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights for a year now; I am comfortable and this is home. California will always be my home too. That is where my family is, it’s where my heart is. It’s where I was made. 

But NYC is where I became alive, it’s where I started living. And my Washington Heights neighborhood is where I belong.

I walk up Broadway and feel comfort, I’m amongst my people. The old man who sits on his stoop and hollers out to his friends in Spanish; he reminds me of my Abuelo Victor who does the same from the porch of his house in Panamá. The woman who owns the Bodega and recognizes me, she calls me, Mami. The Coquito lady and her cart are still stationed in the same place she’s been all summer. A few months ago, for a dollar she would hand me a small cup filled with memories of the many Raspados I had as a child. Now she hands customers a steaming hot drink to combat the chilly weather.

It’s the blonde haired Dominican woman, Gloria, who waves and smiles as I pass by her hair salon. She doesn’t know English and my Spanish is sketchy but she always knows exactly what to do with my hair. Our lack of communication reminds me of my cousins in Panamá, who I also just smile and nod at. It’s the women in the nail shop, with heads full of pink rollos, who remind me of Ma and my Tías. The fellas laughing in front the nearby barber shop remind me of my brother. 

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