Dear Alice,

4 years ago my life began the very painful process of being uprooted and I guess replanted? I don’t really know how to feel about it. I remember that three years ago people would tell me that what happened was a good thing, that it was the hand of God moving me towards bigger and better things. I wanted to see it like that, but I just couldn’t. Why would a good God destroy all I knew and held dear? Why would a good God cast me aside like I was nothing?

I was angry. So much had happened to me in such a short amount of time that I couldn’t take it. I simply broke. I remember the day that it happened. I was laying in the couch where I was sleeping (the rooms were still too hot to sleep in even with the windows open) and I was just staring at a wall. My dad came into the room and said “Hey bud, why don’t you take your car and go see if your friends are alright? Maybe that’ll do you some good.” I just shook my head no and continued staring at a wall. There was nothing inside me that could care about my friends at the time; there was just…a void.

I guess that’s when my parents decided to send me away. I don’t recall having a say in the matter, all I remember was my mom sobbing at the line to get into the Costco (one of the few stores that was open at the time) and basically begging my aunt to take me away. I was angry then too, not because the line was too long or because I was being shipped off like some cheap Amazon package, but because I wanted to text the boy I liked. Not like he could read the message anyway.

It’s been a long 4 years since those days. I moved to the US, I became an ordained pastor, I accepted that I was queer (at a church camp of all places), I discovered new things about myself, I fell in love and out of it quickly, I grew, I shrank, I moved on. But I don’t think I ever healed from those days. I think I spent a whole month in the aftermath and it’s hard to imagine what my life looked like before. I don’t remember who I was before the hurricane. Sometimes I wonder if I was anyone at all. I wonder if that kid would recognize me now.

Anyway, 4 years have passed and I’m still mourning. Mourning the life I had that I don’t remember, mourning the friends I had that I don’t talk to anymore, mourning the future I could’ve had as a teacher in the island, mourning the love I could’ve found before I gave those chances away for a house and health insurance. If I could go back in time I would’ve said no to my mom. I would’ve stayed in the aftermath and figured it out. That’s a lie. I would’ve gone anyway, made my life in this country and made the exact same mistakes I made back then. Because honestly? I haven’t changed that much.

Anyway, if I seem emotional today is because I am. In 10 days it’ll be the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. In a month it’ll be the anniversary of my departure from Puerto Rico. On that day I will eat by candlelight; to remember, to honor, to mourn.

Maybe you’ll join me in doing it too even if you weren’t there.

Talk to you soon dear friend,

Love,
Alex

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