Can I blame things on an app? On a cartoon mammal? Or, on the brilliantly ethereal flute rooted by percussion?
I am in a period of lament. I’m being drag queen style full-on lament realness lately. Don’t let me watch a movie with even a touch of sensitivity or I’ll be crying. My current state isn’t rooted in one particular issue or area. Did you think I was kidding when I described this state of being as a drag performance.
When I am trying to distract myself - usually through writing or reading - I will pull up my Poetry app and the first image asks you to “Spin”. Different topics (humor, joy, nostalgia) are combined with states of being (youth, aging, love) to find the perfect poems for any occasion. Today, for instance, the app is mocking me by offering Humor & Youth. Well played. But you can also search by word or poet so when I’m like this I look up all the sadness I could possibly muster and dive in.
For me, it works like an overload switch. My brain feels full, can’t digest anymore, and snaps off like the breaker at a house. It usually works but not this week. I know it’s because I’m moving. I have an entire life change happening that I have, for the most part, successfully underplayed. But it’s coming whether or not I’m ready.
Peg Boyers has a poem called “La Tuvería or An Earring’s Lament” that connects the effects of a lost earring on the other earring with the entirety of the Cuban Revolution. I told you I was looking up sad things. Then I made the mistake of watching the animated movie “Vivo”. I thought the opening sequence of music would keep me happy. Who doesn’t love a charanga (flute-led Cuban danzón music form that combines elements of African and Haitian/French instrumentation) and a singing kinkajou? Except it’s situated in old Cuba, has a matriarchal singer a la Celia, sung by Gloria Estefan, and enough side characters with Cuban accents that - you guessed it - I was wailing by the end.
No matter that so many things are hitting my emotional center right now. It all finds its origins in my upbringing as an exile (inherited from my mother) and outsider (inherited from my father). I am reminding myself of my grandfather, who could move without worry about how or when he acquired anything else. If he had his hat, a seeresucker suit, his white leather slips ons, and his cafetera, anything else was possible.
Why do I let myself fall into these moments? I have spend a long part of my life denying so much of what I am feeling. It’s a protective response. And like most personal ways of protecting, it’s rooted in my upbringing and the sense that I couldn’t trust myself to process. And like most trauma responses, it shouldn’t outlive its necessity. However, for most adults, it’s easier to stay closed off than to venture out again into the world that can potentially hurt us. I made a promise to myself to not live that way because to do so presumes my primary concern is to not allow the next hurt rather than to joyously look forward to the next beautiful, awkward, tear-filled moment. Here, even lament is an expression of what it is to be alive, que no? Now if I could just pack boxes more quickly.