Reflections on worth, travel, & Motherhood: My recent trip to the daughterland, Dominican Republic

I took this trip at the end of July - early August 2014 

 

Several months before the flood happened in our building, I was asked to go to the Dominican Republic & Haiti for an anthropology poetry project. I immediately said yes and made my summer work & mama arrangements around this trip. After this homeless ordeal, I had to question whether or not I should go. Am I worth that trip in these times of not-knowing? Would it be irresponsible of me if I didn’t get my ticket refunded & try to focus on getting out of the shelter?

Confession.

I have worth issues. From time to time, I feel like I do not deserve the blessings that have come & are coming my way… It is a confusing notion because I am humbled by the grace of the universe, but I am also afraid of it. 

When I don’t trust the process of life, I think that all the bad things that have happened to me is because I deserved it. I created it. In my gut, that makes more sense than when the good comes. It is unsettling; the good feels fake, forced, & inauthentic. It feels more like luck than majesty. It feels more like divine intervention than mastery. In short, I come into moments where I do not value the journey I am on. I question & judge myself & see the shortcomings as an excuse to belittle my creations. So, because I didn’t have my life together, I didn’t deserve to go to the DR & Haiti.

I tried to let the shelter let me keep my belongings & I would return after the trip. I brought in a letter of volunteerism from the school & my travel itinerary. I was told that they would not hold my belongings & that if I left, my case would be closed & I would have to start the shelter process all over again. I was already exhausted from moving into the shelter, packing all of our belongings out of the condemned building, traveling to Zi’s dance school—which was over an hour each way, & having to draw blood, pee, find work, & permanent housing for shelter compliance. 

When I decided not to go, I became instantly depressed. I couldn’t stop crying. That “no” from the shelter made me cry the whole bus ride from White Plains to Yonkers. I felt sad just off the IDEA of not going to the DR.

I had to go. I would go into depression. I was already sad because I was in the shelter. Now, I was sad because if I left, I would return back to square one... With much deliberation with my fam, god, & self, I learned I needed to be committed & flexible with my goals. I wanted this. I conjured it. Yes, the circumstance may have changed, but my dream hadn’t. 

The anxiety I felt was based on the limiting idea that traveling isn’t for everybody. That my desire to create, travel, & work is not for a homeless, poor, babymama. Traveling is a luxury. I knew that bringing Zi wouldn’t be cost effective or work effective. She was also in the middle of dance camp. I couldn't leave her with my mom because she hadn't secured housing either.

I went further & further into the many reasons why DR couldn’t happen. I went further & further into why I didn't deserve to go. Even when I said fuck it, I am going, the sadness lifted, but I still had all these negative beliefs. I told my parents of my decision & they thought that I should cancel the trip. They see traveling as a luxury & they are always on survival mode. They couldn't understand why I should go to Kiskeya (the DR & Haiti) for a poetry project on migration. It seemed unimportant to them. 

If it wasn't for my closet friends, I would not have gone. Beforehand, I thought about what would happen to Zi while I was gone, who would take care of her, but once I made the decision to go, free child care appeared. Moving hands also appeared. I noticed that the idea of going made me feel better & the universe starting to conspire for me. I got everything that I needed for the weeks that I would be gone.

I am glad that I allowed myself to trust. It is still something that I actively practice everyday. My worth is constantly being questioned. It is a byproduct of being a brown, black, woman, mother in this country. My doomsday thoughts are ones I have to consciously cancel on a daily basis.  

I don't know how this journey is going to take me. However, I know where I want to go & the uncertainty doesn't have to kill me. I let go & went & I am glad I did. The benefits outweighed the risks. I met so many people & got to spend almost three weeks with my sista, Mo. I got time to think & reprieve from this whole homelessness ordeal. I got to reconnect with nature. A familiar stranger that always knows how to give.

I had an amazing time. I rested. I worked on my resume. Wrote poetry in Spanish for the first time. I met a lot of different people from different walks of life. I interviewed. We conversed. I saw my father's family for the second time. I ate well. Cried well. & came back safe without the Chikungunya.  

Here are some pics from the trip:

Interviewing on the ground. Lauraciely's explains her experience as a Dominican in relationship to hair, identity, & growing up in a border town with Haitians. 

Interviewing on the ground. Lauraciely's explains her experience as a Dominican in relationship to hair, identity, & growing up in a border town with Haitians. 

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Mo gets a history lesson in La  Restauración, a historical town where Dominicans fought for their independence.  

Mo gets a history lesson in La  Restauración, a historical town where Dominicans fought for their independence.  

A Haitian family talks about their migration experience to &  in the Dominican Republic. 

A Haitian family talks about their migration experience to &  in the Dominican Republic. 

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To find out more about this particular leg of the project, visit my sista's site: These Lovely, Traveling Poems.