It’s been 13 years since I left Puerto Rico with my mom and brother. It’s also been 13 years since the Blackout of 2003.
We were out shopping when all the stores went dark. At first people thought it was just on that block. Then we found out all of Southern Boulevard had lost power. We kept walking and found the train station, that’s when we found out there was a blackout so we could not get on the train. A few people were worried it was an act of terror. After all , 9/11 had happened less than two years prior.
Honestly though, my brother and I did not understand the problem. The light was constantly being “taken away” in Puerto Rico. The blackout was sorta welcomed to us because it made us feel at home. Growing up, it was a very common thing to yell, “se llevaron la luz!” out the window to alert the other neighbors that the power had been cut off the in the neighborhood for a while. We did the same when they’d cut the water supply.”They” being the Autoridad de Energia Electrica de PR and Acueductos y Alcantarillados. We’d go days without both so we had no problem dealing with the blackout.
Recently I’ve been thinking how much things change. When we moved to NYC I thought I’d never get used to all the noise and people. I’d never get used to swaying of the trains or the bumpy rides on buses. Everything was bright, loud and steel.
A childhood friend is visitng. They’ve never been to NYC. The bus and train ride home was hilarious. It reminded me so much of when I get here. My friend was looking at everything with such wide-eyed amazement. And I was telling them about the City and the “rules”, how New Yorkers are. I told them they must have a NYC pizza because we are the best at it. They were asking so many questions and I was able to answer them.
I miss the coqui’s song. I miss how starry the sky is at night in El Campo. I miss the beaches.
I’ve never really felt at home in the States. Visiting Puerto Rico is always great but then I’m reminded of all the religious motivated bigotry on the Island; all the machismo etc. So, I feel too Latina for the States and too Americana for Puerto Rico.
But I’m starting to realize I have the best of both worlds.
I get to have New York City’s big slices of pizza and my friend brought me Puerto Rican candy. So, it’s a win-win.