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Relationships: The Freedom of Choice

Earlier in the evening as I left my parent's home and their flooded hallway from the refrigerator that was leaking, a situation that I must take care of before they return from their trip; I left their home in a place of reflection. As I closed the garage door I turned up the volume to better hear the audio book, My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. I am a great admire of her work and even spent time working with Ms. Magazine during my undergraduate years. Those years were the beginning of my late night conversations with other feminist, holding circles and rallies for change and protesting in the streets for various civil rights affecting us all. I started to listen to the book only a few days prior but already her story, read by Debra Winger, became a companion of mine on my trips to see my clients near and far and any time I spent in my car. At the red light before entering the freeway, I looked over to my left and observed the sunset piercing through some leaves of a tree. The scene brought peace to my observant heart but made my mind wonder about my absent companion-my camera. My passenger seat has always been occupied with my camera, a leather satchel with pen, journal and wallet in tote, and my reusable water bottle.

For more than fifteen years I have carried a journal in my purse as a way to always express what my parents would say was me being,"too emotional" or telling me "not right now Shana," when I needed to share things that I observed in the day or something that happened and stirred my emotions but they were, "too" busy to listen. In the ladder part of my high school years, I began to have a deep interest in photography. I enjoyed the peaceful position of observer and telling stories with the images I captured. The camera became my partner through the many cities, states and countries I visited. Despite the comments from certain elders who explained that, "the world is much too dangerous for girls and especially a curious one like you," I still traveled. It's sad that our global society continues to make the world unsafe for women as a way to control them and their journey. Not recognizing that as women our instincts are sharp like wolves and we need the freedom to sniff out our own trails. This is not to say I didn't encounter scary situations. Instead of reacting from a place of fear I learned how to act from a place of discernment.

Now, In my early thirties, many of my friends and those who I consider associates are getting married. I'm happy for them and their choices but I often get so irritated by the multiple questions of my single life during events of us gathering.

Are you dating?

You are too pretty to be single. I have the perfect guy for you!

or my personal favorite,

Don't you want a ring on your finger, so that you can finally say you are off the market?

P.s, I never knew that I as a woman was on this so-called "market" to begin with.

This kind of language creates sentences of conformity. It's four play for many. I find it a playground for people to reassure their own insecure paths and continue the dialogue of comparison. Relationships are rich and have a depth of multiplicity that can't just be shared with all and it's rhythms aren't explored by all in it's infinity. But this is where our world has placed women. Objects to be bought and sold. On Magazines women's bodies are often sexualized. In photos their legs are wide and spread a part, lips perched, bodies photo shopped to the perfection deemed by the editor, and mouth open as if they are hungry for something only the viewer can give them. These composed snap shots are false and misleading. Women are often kept by their significant other or kept from being seen as whole and respected when they have a STATUS of non-conformity to any tradition of the linear binary.

Even a few nights ago a guy at my friends birthday party asked me if I was married as I passed the tray around of lumpia I just fried for everyone. It's something I do every year for her birthday because I know that when people get drunk they need snacks and there is nothing yummier than lumpia in those drunk hungry moments. As I laughed and answered him "no." He responded by saying, "oh, not yet!" I walked away not engaging in anything but the eating of a lumpia. Why do we always want to see women kept by their significant other or kept from being seen as whole and respected when they have a STATUS of non-conformity to any tradition of the linear binary? Even earlier that evening as an old associate I worked with asked me what I was up to?, where I lived? and what I did for work? My old crush walked into the door. It was a saving grace from my old-friend's wife who's eyes were still curious of who I, this woman whom embraced her husband with arms wide open, as we both smiled and reminisced about the old days, was.

In the middle of my friends dinning room, and in-between the kitchen and patio,my old crush hugged me tight and warmly as we both smiled at each other. So many years and feelings have passed and finally, I was happy to have love for him without the turning of uncertainty in my tummy about the unknown in our personal relationship. He asked, "Where have you been? You have been missing like usual. I thought you were off to some where in the mid-west or some where strange or something." I smiled and responded, "shut up, you know I do my thing but I have text and called you many of times and like always, you didn't respond." We both smiled at each-other as he said, "Yeah, that sounds about right." He being a Sagittarius was always hot and cold with his affection and I being a cancer needed a warm flow of communication that he couldn't provide. The biggest lesson he helped me learn was provided on a group trip he, myself and our two friends took for a weekend over-looking the ocean. On the last day of our trip he and our other male friend and myself were smoking a cigar while drinking Jameson on the balcony. As he was giving advice to our friend, I asked him what he thought I needed to know.

He said to me,"You have to listen to guys when they tell you the truth up front, even if it's not what you want to hear. Stop thinking you can change someone. Accept what is." I was shocked but he didn't stop there. He proceeded to tell me, " You have so much courage and that's why you aren't working with us anymore. I admire you for it and I don't have that kind of guts with my passion and that's why I'm stuck." I finished my drink that night and enjoyed the full moon. Looking back now, I guess this is why we aren't together either. My fire was, then and is now, too grand for him and I don't leave space for him to hide from himself. Our conversation that night is not really something I share with people when they ask me why I am single or least it's not something that people need to know at a "casual" gathering, where they are really at surface levels with their questions. My lessons, my courage, and truth is personal for me and my journey.

As I preceded onto the freeway, I touched the red-tail feather I came across on one of my morning runs two weeks ago. I have been a runner for over fifteen years as well. It's been a relationship that has taught me self-care and the importance of solitary time in the morning to help me ground my energy and speak with myself about what afflicts me. I hung the feather on the opposite side of the amethyst stone my friend gave me as a gift when I was confronting many old patterns from my past. They both bring balance to my dream catcher that sits over my review-morrow. In Native American tradition when one comes across the fallen feather of the Red-Tail Hawk, they have reached a place of wisdom and have triumphed over lessons in the walking world. I notice the softness of the feather but also it's sturdy absorbent quality. In my passenger seat sits my Poets & Writer tote I won at the AWP conference, with my laptop in it. I am eager to get home quickly and write a story waiting to burst out of fingers and onto the page. I also have my parent's juicer that I'm borrowing to make fresh orange juice in the morning from the orange trees in my garden, and my satchel with wallet, journal, and pen in it. My CalArts water bottle sits in my middle console. The newest addition to come home with me are my newly purchased shoes I bought this morning before my meeting with my business partner.

After I purchased my lox and cream cheese bagel and coffee, I walked across the street to the local thrift store. Even though, I have been very mindful of my spending, something was pulling me to go inside. I did the usual of looking through the men's flannel shirts and into the women's shoe section. As I turned around to the row of shirts with shoes on the top. I was face-to-face with a black pair of Manolo Blahnik two-inch heals. As I looked around, the young punker girls with their green hair were occupied with a leopard fur jacket, the owner was training a new guy, and the girl at the counter was taking in some clothes. I knew none of them even knew what these shoes meant to me. I grew up watching the show, Sex and the City every Sunday night on HBO during high school. Even though my step-mother deemed the show unfit for me and was appalled by it's content, it was the escape I needed from the mundane world of suburbia. The show explored a writer's life as hopeful, fresh, and exciting. Something that I desperately needed. Of course, I was a Carrie, the writer and fashionista always searching for love. I left that thrift store with a pair of fairly new Manolo Blahnik's for fifteen dollars. The same shoe maker Carrie Bradshaw loved and worked hard afford to purchase.

Granted, I am in my thirties and I'm a Cubanita y Haitiana writer, who is not limited to standards of the world on sex, love and relationships. But there are moments, even days that this restricting energy gets the best of me. There is an adversity faced when paving your own way because, all too often, there is a wind of many choosing different from you and their validation can make one feel less than or worse, invisible. I must admit my soul, vagina, clitoris , breast and the rest of my fruitful body yearns to be touched by a man who has courage and zest for life that propels him to reach his truest potential and passions. A man who isn't reaching inside of himself to be his best, is a man left in the dark-a place of shadow. I live a colorful creative life and don't care to answer questions for people, "who don't care if I live or If i die and much rather spit in my eye." Courtesy of The Smiths. There are so many relationships to explore and have like with our bodies, mind, spirits, creativity, friendships-the list goes on. All relationships last for a reason, season, and or lifetime. Learn the reason, live through the season and enjoy your lifetime. I feel grateful to be accompanied my other courageous women who are exploring themselves and their interest and breaking the borders that kept our mothers an ancestors confined.

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