Dominican Born, American Raised
Dominican Born, American Raised - Mariela Regalado
Red white and blue whichever way you cut through my veins the colors that spill will still be the same. They’ll be red white and blue. Dominican born American raised. But I am more than just merengue and mangu. My existence stretches out further than just being a cute girl from the hood. The colors of el sol Caribe as its resting. Visions of paloma’s blancas knocking down mangoes and coconuts, climbing up heights to reach for more treats from the tamarindo tree. Women walking back from the campo- their backs heavy- filled to the brim with coffee beans and leaves picked off straight from the valleys lined with trees, Infinity pool, resorts. My mother’s humble abode en el barrio lush green grounds to play golf in dirt roads- littered with children who wash car windows for a few centavos. Our lechon roasting in the open firesancocho, tostones, aguacate y arroz blanco. I can’t roast a pig in my backyard anymore but I can call up one of my primos at the bodega or the delivery restaurant- The token Dominican spot if I want more. Jabon de cuaba y powder mexzana fresh from taking a shower, buckets full of water in the patio sittin’ down to eat en familia. Memories of fishing the cilantro leaves out of my beans.
Coming to NYC, correcting my other friends “We don’t call them frijoles they’rehabichuelas coño!” Hookah smokin’ on the block, stock market ordering at the bakery in the morning for the duo dinamico -pan con queso and cafe con leche. Women lined up at the salon, their hair in rolos threatening to frizz every time they stick their heads out the door in NYC humidity to keep an eye on their kids on the lookout for the coquito man or piragua cart.Taking Instagram selfies after our run over the George Washington Bridge. Bottomless mimosas Sundays for me “¡Los Domingos se limpia! ¡No es para fiesta!” My Mami screams showing up to work on Mondays to educate my students. I need them to learn about this red white and blue.The local viejos clock in to their shifts on milk crates in front of the building, old and young playing dominos “Capicu venticuatro!” I hear Don’t forget about “Trankazo!” Bursting into random street dances when an old Anthony Santos song welcomes us as it blasts from the Camry down the block. Waves of nostalgia as the guitar croons in our taxi cab “Preparate, que se solto Teodoro !“ Putting my ear buds in on my walk to the train hearing “I don’t fuck with—YOU!” Curse words used as terms of endearments when responding to my friends “Dime aver loco!” or KLK MMG if I’m texting. My parents gently remind me their stay here is temporary until the day they can pack up their bags and return to Quisqueya. Dominican cultura ingrained from within Americana customs because of the city I was raised in. What I’ll see is what I’ll be, the statistics preached to me, I took it in my own hands created my own destiny. Here I am writing piece by piece my trajectory without ever forgetting my history. Living my Latina American dream accomplishing the things my parents struggled to realize. And I continue to grow under the red, white and blue because whichever way you cut through my veins the colors that spill will still be the same.. they’ll be red white and blue.
Copyright © 2015 Mariela Regalado
Connect with Mariela via her blog dominicanheights.com Mariela Regalado was inspired by her 7th grade ELA teacher to write. By day she works as a College Counselor, helping to change the landscape for students of color attending institutions of higher learning. Mariela is currently working on documenting her multidimensional experience through bilingual poetry and prose.