I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was in my Drawing 101 class at San Antonio College trying to get sketching down packed as that day I realized that I might not be as good of a drawer as I thought. I was working a job that I was suppose to head out to after class and was going to meet Juan Carlos for lunch before I headed to work. Remember that episode of Glee when everyone was cheery and everything was rainbows and gumdrops up until the moment that they heard a gunshot in the choir room, that is the same feeling I felt when director of the art program came in telling the class that we had to leave and evacuate campus. What started as a walk turned into a run when we began leaving the classes, which one of my classmates that parked next to me to go to class just stayed in a shock blank stare as we began to hear what happened that day. When I got home, I turned on the television and began to see the carnage as it began to playyout, which in real time, I saw the plane I was suppose to be on crash into the remaining twin tower in New York City.
Things happen for a reason I feel, which was when I began to believe it that day. I ended up turning down a scholarship to NYU because of an ex-boyfriend that broke up with me two months before school started. I met him at work, which being raised in a culture that it was normal due to the old days, it was acceptable for me to date a 22 year old since I was working, making my own money, and was getting an apartment at age 17 so don’t be a judgey bitch. The scholarship I got was a last minute announcement when I walked my high school graduation stage that was even a shock for me. My ex at the time had resentments towards it and convinced me to stay in San Antonio, but that day almost taking the scholarship made me realize I would of been on that airplane.
New York City was always a dream for me to visit since at a young age I was turned on to the movie “Breakfast at Tiffanys” which I still yet to live the moment of looking into the mirror, eating a croissant and just reliving that magical moment I envisioned for me, which things changed immediately after that moment for a very long while. Juan Carlos was just a friend at that time which grew into love shortly after that event. Maybe it was the chemistry and the rapport we had or maybe that he was my best friend. Or maybe it was the fact that the plan to get their only son out of Puerto Rico since drafting was starting their first and was located and drafted is why we ended up doing it. Don’t get me wrong, he was not a coward at all, he enlisted but due to the fear his family had he wanted to respect his mother’s wishes and contain the fear that his mom had in losing her only son. We got engaged of course and proposed to at his families restaurant, which the polaroids of him and the happy moments that we shared were all left in the moldy apartment in Houston as due to my mold allergy and the infection that almost took my life the first time around, was suggested to leave it behind. I will remember the day that we found out Juan Carlos passed away, which was during wedding dress shopping that had me running out of the Alfred Angelo dressing room and collapse to the floor in shock then mourning the lost of my first true love. I internalized the pain after the funeral for the longest time, but ended up after going through a traumatic divorce that ended in domestic violence and a potential knock on deaths door as I was in ICU for three weeks almost not making it a third time around (I also almost didn’t make it since I had pneumonia and bronchitis when I was four years old and on a respirator). Carrie Underwood’s “Just a Dream” made me begin healing that wound from losing Juan Carlos when his platoon got bombed.
Yes a lot has happened to me. So much to the point that I just be resentful to God or the higher power and the Universe, but I am not. It led me to this journey, the lifestyle coaching, the self help author journey, which honoring those I’ve lost along the way by the small things. One of the things that puts a smile on an essential workers face when I say “thank you” which their face just lights up with so much gratitude and appreciation. During this traumatic event you have people saying “well it’s not my choice to work” or make excuses for their shitty attitude, but truth is it doesn’t give you any right to mistreat someone. Entitlement is something that is not something we deserve because we didn’t lose the loses directly from it, other people did. One of the things that stemmed from September 11 is that terrorist are the threat which was made it demonize a whole community of innocent people. It wasn’t their fault. Since then I noticed America culture tends to stereotype and demonize which is why many countries don’t like our culture. We have it made and take it for granted wanting more and more, which in one international article says that “America is a social plague” that references us as “the one’s causing cultural zombification.” Putting myself in a immigrants shoes coming for a a better life only leads to hate and belittling from people that are walking in the same shoes. We tend to do this to make ourselves feel better, which the impulsive lying that we tell ourselves doesn’t do anything but make us feel worst about ourselves. Coming from a lineage of immigrants which let’s be real, Indians and Latinos were here first, I learned how to respect others. The same thing that those original immigrants came and used manipulation and lies to befriend and backstabbed those individuals we do each and every day to try to get ahead. But come across a woman like me and get ready for a ride, because the belittling and manipulation used against me will be called out for what it is and each psychological action that makes you become a narcissist, a gaslighted will be revealed. Which doesn’t mean their isn’t hope for change in them, but try telling them that when they take it as a personal attack. Terrorist don’t become the treat anymore when we are fucking ourselves over.
Coolio once quoted in “Gangsta Paradise” that sticks out like a sore thumb to me that resembles our daily culture which is “Tell me why are we, so blind to see that the one’s we hurt, are you and me” which if you look at it, the things we want and work our asses to get become a failure not because of the things we don’t do as those who busted their asses did everything right, but because you have people putting that wedge that hasn’t earned the values that those who earned yet. We think we are better because of what we have or what credentialing we have, but life experience is the ultimate thing that keeps us being savvy at getting fighting through trauma. There is no proof that I could find, but I believe that when you successfully deal with trauma and actually resolve the pains from it; it takes you to another level of surviving. In the animal kingdom, we are animals and like every animal that has fight or flight, once an obstacle is accomplished we become instinctively responsive, which will be my thesis topic when going into the graduate program in Psychology. One of the things about survival though is that it’s not about how we survive alone, because like Pedro my rooster I save, something we need our lives to be saved by the kindness of stranger which should only be a threshold not a determinant. Because being able to stand and survive the darkest of nights makes you see things in a more brighter light.
In honor to the men and women who lost their lives in 9-11 and those who continue to sacrifice their lives for a better tomorrow, thank you for all that you do. XOXO. Juan Carlos, your life and legacy will always be celebrated. Thank your for making me into the Wonder Woman you always saw in me, before Gal Gaddot.