Around this time last year I wrote a post entitled Community. I had attended the commitment ceremony of my dear family members G and T. They chose to call it a "commitment ceremony" to avoid the patriarchal, homophobic connotations of a wedding. I was asked to read a poem before they exchanged their vows to each other. In honor of their one year anniversary, I've decided to share the poem I wrote for them, with all of you...
We met him on a crowded city street in a non-descript city.
I can’t remember the day or year.
I just know that it was an autumn afternoon.
“My name is Happiness, Happiness Santiago…
And the pleasure is all mine.”
He was half-Cuban, half Domican,
and was raised by Puerto Ricans in an Italian Neighborhood.
His smile was infectious, almost intoxicating.
“Yo Happiness, what’s good homie?”
A passerby yelled.
“Everything’s good my man. I’m about to read a poem to my new friends” he said with a smile.
All of us laughed a little.
We had already been hooked.
“This poem is entitled the Auto-Biographical, Biography of Happiness Santiago. It’s a love story for the most part.
(And he screamed)
It was one of those days, where everything lines up in the city.
The music from cars driving by move in step with
young people bopping their heads.
The sun bounces from window to window
brightening the shade while the smells from
the various nearby eateries chose not to compete,
to unify in the name of…
“I was born like y’all”
“I don’t think I need to explain, and everything else is history. Like the essays of a wanderer with a full heart and warm mind.
Breathing has been a pleasure from day one. From this very action
I’ve been brought to you. My purpose, to clarify the feelings that you’ve always understood in the far reaches of your sub-conscious, sub-zero recesses of the subway’s of the forgotten corners of your mind. My heart’s been lifted to share the opportunity of your hopes and dreams. Mine have been remembered in the reflections of the crystal ball’s you call your eyes. I am a child playing on a jungle gym, running carelessly in the afternoon shade, not afraid to keep going until I collapse from the joy of satisfactory exhausted-ness. And it’s obvious to me that you are no different. In fact I can hear your heartbeats skipping double Dutch as we speak.
“It’s important to note that I am not hiding. That although I find it my personal mission to run through the wind while the river is running beside me, I am not running from anything. I am flying towards my future and fully apart of the present. As I look at what appears to be a tear building up in the outside corner of your left eye, I want to be clear. Make no mistake my brothers and sisters; I’ve seen some of the darkest moments that pupils could possibly bring into focus. I never pretend differently. I’m not frozen into submission by events that have already passed, implanting them, with my invitation, squarely in the center of my tomorrow. I will have none of that. And this is the only thing in life that I can control. My lung capacity is temporary but my ability to carve a new path remains infinite as long as my name remains Happiness.”
We all soaked it in mesmerized by the words of a stranger, slightly embarrassed at our obvious vulnerability.
“I love all of you”
He said with enough conviction that it felt completely sincere.
“I love men and women and the more the merrier”
Each of us blushed at his clear lack of inhibition.
“I’m here right now with you my friends, aware of all of the complexities that make up the human existence. Or at least as many aspects as I’ve been introduced to thus far. If I had only one sentence to say, merely a handful of words to share, I would say remember me. I apologize if my thoughts come across as arrogant. That is certainly not my intention. It’s just that I am very certain that I am you. And if my intuition is true than you will never forget yourself. And you will cherish each other. And if I never see you again, it won’t matter because I will be remembered in the beat of your heart, your reflection in the mirror, in the reaction of your cells as you raise your hand to touch your cheek. Don’t worry anymore. Because tomorrow is alive in this unique second and you are alive. The same way you have always been. I expect that it feels different but the difference lays in the possibilities, not in your present smiles. Your light-heartedness is the consecutive addition of a million separate moments and they’ve convened with us on this afternoon at this intersection of concrete and flesh. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Each of us looked at each other and we realized the moment was about to end. Our conditioning compelled us to try to hold on but our collective identity had already discarded expectations as afterthoughts. It was if we were standing in front of a fire, except the flames were the mingling of identities on a city street corner.
It took a second for us to notice that Happiness was already on his way. He began to run and he yelled:
“Remember Happiness Santiago” as he jumped and gently kicked a concrete wall that propelled him towards the distance. His light feet and curly hair were tattooed to the portraits in front of us, long after his presence was beyond our site…
I remember that day. The day we met Happiness on a non-descript city street corner on a random autumn afternoon. And I remind you to remember him too, not that you could have possibly forgotten. It’s just that we have a handful of moments when time stands still and waits for us to choose our destination. And I ask you to run through the wind and fly towards the future while fully involved in the present.
And don’t forget Happiness because Happiness remembers you.