I live in two worlds. In the USA, I am a woman struggling to find a solid ground to set roots. A middle class immigrant woman with a book to publish. I enjoy a good life, but have a on-and-off relationship with the love of my life. Decisions need to be made soon.
The other world sits between my lungs and my rib cage, deep in my heart: Venezuela.
My home country is on the brink of a civil war. It’s a civil war of the people against the tyrant. A brave people who will not submit to lining up for a ratio of split rice when those who broke the country enjoy lavish living in other places across the globe, when a band a criminals abuse human rights on a daily basis.
Devastating images of the struggle of my fellow countrymen and women crowd my social media feeds. I can’t look away. I can’t turn if off.
I join a demonstration in Los Angeles, retweet, and join discussions online to help dissipate myths here about the political crisis there. I want to do more. But my effort is infinitesimally small compared to the struggle of the “guarimberos,” those who barricade their local neighborhoods to fight the armed forces of the regime.
I call home, asking what can I do to help. I don’t know of a doctor who could write me a prescription for my father’s hypertension, or my mother’s thyroid issues. Instead, I buy aspirin 81 mg. to send to my father for his health issues, a bandaid to stop a hemorrhage. I learn that my nephews and nieces haven’t been to school in more than ten days. The fight is so intense that schools have closed.
I reach out to offer guarimba/refuge to save those I can. My sister will hold to the end. She doesn’t even stop to listen when I offer to take her son out. Even this atheist learns to pray, “Venezuela, no te rindas, por el amor de dios.”
In my house in LA, I receive a call from my realtor: a showing is scheduled for 3 p.m. I leave the house to the potential buyers. My days go between preparing my house for showings, filling out job applications, blogging, submitting work for publication, editing my book, working on a marketing strategy for self-publishing.
At times, my mind caves in: between Venezuela’s situation, my personal decisions, and building a career as a writer, my brain has all it can handle.
Like the guerrera on the picture, I find refuge in dancing.
But I also need words of wisdom, which I find in the book of poetry, Codeswith, Fire from My Corazón, by Los Angeles poet, Iris De Anda
When falling into unrest
do not submit
look up, reach out, & scream
know you’re worth more than
you could ever imagine
when descending into madness
do not resist
fly beyond, ignite suspicion, & dance
know your essence is more than
you could ever imagine
CodeSwitch, Fires from Mi Corazón. Iris De Anda, Los Writers Underground Press, 2014