Saturday, December 1, 2012


It is Memorial Day morning, and the kids aren’t up yet. I sneak to the bathtub and settle down with my favorite purple pen, ready to draft a story for my favorite veteran, but it doesn’t come.

Instead, I keep drifting back to that Emily Bronte poem that I found yesterday.

I have dreamed dreams in my life, dreams
that have stayed with me ever after
and have changed my ideas;
they’ve gone through and through me,
like wine through water,
and altered the color of my mind.

I’ve lived a lot of the past fifteen years in my dreams, in the clouds, changing with the weather and seasons. I used to believe I was irresponsible and unfocused; now I know I was just born free -- one part body, one part fire, one part waterfall, one part vapor constantly floating away.Fifteen years ago this week, face-down sad and exhausted from a year of intensely silent suffering, I tossed down a handful of prescription sleeping pills. Actually, I took a few, then wasn’t sure if I’d taken any, so I took some more, and then, again, I couldn’t remember if I’d taken any, and I wanted to be sure to find some real rest, finally, so I took the rest.I tried to jump into the sky on that quiet warm late Spring night.Maybe I made it there for a few hours, I don’t know.I woke up from a dreamless black hole, sweaty, covered in sticky partly dried vomit, gripped with the worst headache I hope to ever know.The next events aren’t clearly spelled out in my journal, but what is clear is that within a day I was on a plane, headed back to Fort Lauderdale. There I would spend the rest of the summer holed up in my childhood and teenage room, reading thick romance novels, crying, and sleeping.At least that is what I remember.What I did not remember until finding that journal yesterday, what I could not have remembered because I popped pink and white and blue pills to calm my nerves and fix my sadness, was that I prayed boldly and loudly for help that summer.

Also, I tried my hand at magic that summer, sending up perfectly honorable prayer requests written in English and blessed in Spanish with oil from a botanica that sold platanos and pastelitos and along with powerful candles, waters, oils and herbs.


June 23, 1994

My life is mud. I would’ve gulped the entire bottle of (Rx) by now, but mom and dad are hiding them and just doling them out. That’s judicious because I’m so damn fed up with where I am, who I am and what I have begun. I’m so disappointed in myself, I hate myself. I starve myself, bounce checks, and push away good friends.

I was in the hospital on Sunday, hyperventilating. My chest gets tight, I can’t fill my lungs, my eyes bug out, it’s terrifying.

Mom talks about me being here this Fall. No. Hospital first. Then morgue. I will not stay here, like this.I have lit candles to St Jude (please HELP), St Theresa (inner peace, love), and St Anthony (companionship and marriage).After praying to St. Anthony last night and crossing myself with the “oil” that Abuela and Pepe Cortina and I bought at Santa Barbara farmacia, I dreamt vividly about marriage.I was on a familiar mountainous terrain, and saw a white stone peak mountain head. A hot salty wind blew from the West; I thought for a second we were in Cuba, but no, it was somewhere else.

The city was a 16th century Spanish village, and my betrothed and I were having to prove our faith in order to have the union blessed.

It was more of a memory or a flashback than a dream.

I hope that dream was a gift from St. Anthony, a sign that I have tasted love, that I will be loved and happy at the right time.


Every day for the rest of that summer, I sprinkled myself with the oil and the water, kneeled in front of the candles and said three, four, five rosaries to the silent angry God I did not yet know well enough to laugh with.I didn’t even think to ask God -- directly or magically -- to free me from the Anaconda of sadness and self-destruction I voluntarily wrapped around myself.

I did not ask to be freed from the addictions that were filling my mind, my hours and my days, whispering lies that I loved to believe.
By the end of July, I was back in the hospital, throwing up blood, starving myself, paying a masochistic penance for sins and transgressions only I could see.

Despite my best efforts, I didn’t jump into the sky in the summer of 1994. I stayed shackled down here, pacing, restless, believing the illusion I was powerless and alone. All my attention turned to my body, scapegoating it for every single transgression and trespass by and against my soul.

In the darkness of the late summer days, as I gathered myself together to return to Tallahassee and finish my PhD, I slipped repeatedly back into the warm familiarity of that dream with a faceless groom whose hands held mine.

There, I would linger in limbo, letting his warmth flow into my fingers, through my arms, back into my heart.

I kept writing.