Homeward Bound part 1

Dear Alice,

Part 1 sounds ominous doesn’t it? Well, I guess it is in a way. Today I sent an email asking to be transferred back home. I don’t know when or even if it’ll happen, but at least I know that I’ve done my part in making it happen. I feel that it’s time that I went back to the island to, as cheesy as it sounds, find myself there. I left 20 years of my life behind when I moved to this country; I need to reconnect to that kid I used to be and find a way to make him see who I am now.

Maybe it won’t happen, maybe it will. All I know is that I need to go back. I ran from that place for so long. I tried all I could to never go back. All the memories I had of that place were dark and painful, but recently I’ve started to remember all the good that happened there too. I remembered the friends who loved me before I loved myself, the ones who let me be perfectly unclear in what I chose to call myself. The witches who made jewelry, the poets who longed for love, the teachers who wanted change, the musicians that wanted more, the couples who wrote love journals, the church kids who were just trying to find their place. I had forgotten all their lights and replaced them with the darkness that I felt inside. But I’m bigger now. I see differently. And I miss their lights more than ever.

I’m still afraid of going back. Have I changed too much to belong there anymore? Have the ones who’ve loved me moved on? Is moving back just starting over again? I guess I won’t know until I return. I guess what I want to say is that I’m trying to go back to my island. Hopefully I’ll get to go soon.

I’ll send you my new address when I get it, even thought I know you can’t write back. What I’d give to hear what you have to say.

Until next time.

Love,

Alex

Left Behind

Dear Alice,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written you a letter, but I think we know each other well enough to know that these things happen. It’s not that I forget that you exist, it’s just that my mind goes somewhere else and by the time I want to tell you things, I have no energy to write them down. I hope you understand that your dear friend Alex is just a tired fool who gets way bogged down by the things of this life.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you the things that have been going on while I’ve been away. I’m thinking of moving back home. I don’t know it it’ll happen before or after I leave my current job, but then again, I seldom know times of things that happen to me. I think moving back home is necessary; like there’s a part of me back in the island that I need to reconnect with. Maybe there’s something, someone, that I left behind all those years ago. I think it’s about time I go and find them.

Something else that’s been on my mind is love. I’m terrible at finding love and all that kind of stuff. I used to think that I wasn’t ready or that I was too eager to find someone to spend the rest of my life with. I guess that’s something we all feel at some point. I want to be ready for love, but I don’t think I am just yet, especially because I have to keep that love hidden from the world. I don’t want to be that person who has a lover that no one knows about. That’s not fair to me or to them.

I guess what I’m saying is that, even though I desperately want to love and be loved by someone, I’m not there yet. My mind isn’t ready for that, my body isn’t ready for that. I need to reconnect with a part of myself that was lost long ago and has been calling me back to them for the longest time. I need to stop running for them. I need to go back home.

Anyway, enough about me. I hope you’re doing well, dear friend. I know you can’t write back, but I wish you could. I bet you’d have some interesting things to say.

I’ll speak to you soon. Until then.

Love,

Alex

Acceptance

Dear Alice,

This past few weeks have been bad. I wish I could pretend that they weren’t and laugh it all away but I can’t, and besides it’s not like you don’t know that they’ve been bad. However, I think the events of today showed me that, even when things get bad, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

Sure, sometimes I feel hopeless and lost, and for the most part that hasn’t changed, but I’ve learned to accept that sometimes bad things just happen. They don’t have to have any grandiose purpose or some great life lesson; sometimes they just happen and we have to deal with them.

Today my van got towed because I made a stupid mistake. I thought everyone would be mad at me or disappointed that I had made a mistake, but everyone was pretty chill about it and I got help from unexpected places. It was like the guy who told me where I could find it said: “hey at least you’re alive and your haircut looks nice.” I admit that the bar for good things has been severely lowered these past few weeks, but good things are still good even if they’re little things.

Sure I might still be alone and in a precarious situation, the winds might still scare the heck out of me, and I can’t kiss boys in public, but I’m alive, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a pretty nice haircut. I know I can get very down in the dumps about things very easily, but little things always find a way of lifting my spirits.

In honor of those movie Thanksgiving traditions where everyone goes around the table saying something that they’re grateful for because praying in movies is a big no-no apparently, I’m gonna mention some things I’m grateful for this day. I’m grateful for the sun, for cheez-its, for oat milk lattes, for cold sunny days, for friends who go out of their way to help you when you need them, for kind security guards and strangers, for flowers and plants, for good haircuts, and for you, dear friend.

I know I’m not the easiest to listen to, but you always do and I appreciate that.

Thank you for being a friend.

Love,
Alex

Climbing Uphill

Dear Alice,

It’s getting increasingly harder to not be sad or angry all the time. Happiness feels like a mask I’m wearing. It’s like its someone else living through me; someone who is happy, someone who believes in what they say, someone who is capable of being loved.

I don’t know how I feel anymore. I don’t understand why I can’t just leave. I don’t get it. I know you don’t have the answers cause if you did you would tell me. But you’re not even real are you Alice?

Perhaps I just need to accept that this is my life now. Accept the fact that I’m just a shell of a person. Accept that happiness is just not what I’m meant for. I sound so dramatic. I guess I’m exaggerating a bit. Honestly I don’t know anymore.

Anyway, I’m angry and I’m sad because I thought I had a way out but the door closed right in front of me. And what did I do? I smiled. I said “I’m happy for you.” I swallowed the knot in my throat and just kept moving. Because that’s all I know how to do. Fake a smile, say what’s expected of me, and do the next thing. I’m running out of next things to do.

I’ll talk to you soon. I gotta get back to work.

Love,

Alex

Late Night Thoughts

Dear Alice,

Wow! Twice in one day! That must be a new record or something. Anyway, there’s a lot of feelings right now and I know you’re the best person to talk to about them. I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel trapped. I feel hopeless? But what I don’t feel is angry. I think I should be angry after all that’s happened. I mean, I gave them the best years of my life and they’re still willing to throw me away like I’m nothing? God, I wish I was kidding about that last part but I’m not.

I guess I do feel angry. But its not the kind of anger that makes you hot or turn red like in the cartoons. It’s more like the kind of anger that makes you sad. Have you ever thought about that? How there’s different kinds of anger? I guess you have; you think about everything.

Sorry, that was mean. Anyway, I’m sad and I’m angry. If I had listened in my counseling class, I would probably break out the feelings wheel and ask myself to be more specific about how I’m feeling. Or I’d ask “how do you think God is working through all of this?” But I didn’t listen, and I regret it now. So if you ever read this Miss Holt, I’m sorry. Who am I kidding? She’ll never read this. None of them will.

I guess I’m just rambling at this point. Anyway, sorry for being mean earlier. I’ll write to you soon.

Love,
Alex

Anniversary

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

Things that happened in August

Dear Alice,

I know I haven’t written to you in a while, but honestly I’ve been incredibly busy this month. Between helping out at camp for two weeks, managing our own vacation Bible school, and all the other things that happened this last month, I’m surprised I made it to September in one piece.

I wish I could tell you that everything went well and that I’m in a good place and that I’m happy. But the truth is much more complicated than that. Sure, I made some new friends (and a possible romantic connection) this month, but it came at the cost of not having a break since the last month ended. I worked every single day in August with little to no time for myself. And you know what Alice? I’m still tired from it all.

Four weeks of non-stop work mess with a person’s head. One of the Sunday’s that I was able to sit down and breathe for more than 5 minutes, I started to feel this deep sadness. It was as if I was mourning a life that I never had or an Alex that never existed. I started to think about what my life would look like if I never went into ministry and instead came out earlier and lived as an openly queer person in Puerto Rico. Would I be happy then? Would I have found love? Would I have found meaning?

Of course there’s no way to answer those questions, but they made me sad because, the truth is, I’m not happy. I’m in a very non-affirming environment and I spend so much energy hiding who I am that I’m constantly tired. On the flip side, I’m in a position where I can help so many people. But do I help them and lose myself in the process?

One of the songs that really connected with me during this time was from the musical Gypsy. The final song, Rose’s Turn, really made me think. “Someone tell me when is it my turn? Don’t I get a dream for myself?” Honestly, I really felt that. Do I get to dream for myself and not for others? Do I get to live or am I destined to just waste away while helping others live?

I know that if I ask my seminary friends they’ll opt for the latter of the options. We were taught “others first always.” But that’s not healthy…right? I don’t know anymore.

Anyway, there’s somethings I need to take care of today so I think I’ll end this letter here. Hope you are well dear friend.

Take care
Love,
Alex