Let's be honest: if you're mother had the ovaries to cut ties with your good for nothing biological Papi, that's womanism, that's freaking Black and Brown feminism. Most Dominicanas from our Abuela's and Mami's generation hold onto the first men they gave children to like the whole world would fall apart if they let them go. It's frustrating to watch these women agree to continue living loveless and unhappy lives for the sake of agreeing with fear. Some of our Mamis be fearless in the face of death, and our entire stories be re-written. Let's not forget that today belongs to the fathers but it's also a day that highlights the choices women have made.
My mom COULD'VE been one of those ladies. But life did a quick one on her: my father was deported and soon after passed away. Dominican magic be saving mujeres more times than you think. I know plenty of women who were raised my amazing Stepdads for stories similar to mine. My best friend, for example, was raised by an awesome step Papi after her real dad was deported to the DR.
Anyway, 6 months before my dad's passing, Mami took my sister and I to get baptized with our cousins in DR, and it was there she met my stepdad. He was also traveling from Nueva York, and he told her this when they saw met each other at a nightclub. That's right, folks: it was at Coconuts nightclub that the stars aligned for my parents. My 24 year step dad had asked my uncle's if it was ok to dance with their 30+ year old sister. Yup. When the night ended, my step dad asked my mom when he could see her again. And she said, "you can find me at my house, but if you come to my house you'll be meeting everyone." And he did.
What can I tell you? My dad never left. Despite the early problems with my biological father, my heavy and dangerous teenage years, and despite Mami never giving him kids of his own, he's stayed. And it's not like he's not the one who holds everything down--this man has paid all of our ways for 20+ years. He says it's because he knows he really found love under the neon lights of Coconuts club. They do say to put coconut oil on everything, right?
Life be funny that way. Sometimes a bad heart break from the man you think you should be with is what leads you to the love you deserve. I am grateful life happened the way it did. My stepdad has been the most valuable man in my life--without him I really do not know where we would've been today. So...
Felix--Gracias for not forcing "Papi"--cause loyalty, it's the first thing you taught me; thank you for accepting "dad" and "father" in second voice. Thank you for protecting us, for cherishing us, for demonstrating to us that the world can be corrupt and individuals STILL have the responsibility and duty to be just. You taught me to always fight for my rights. Always encouraged me to voice it out, to demand, to hang on to dignity, to tell my stories even when they challenge the status quo. You call me loca when I go on my rants, but I can see the joy in your face--you know you've taught me NEVER to talk out my ass. Thank you for ALWAYS celebrating me, for ALWAYS accepting me. For demonstrating to us that men DO have FEELINGS, that REAL men take the time to listen, that REAL men cry, the REAL men compromise, that REAL men challenge gender roles by having a cleaning day, that REAL men do exist despite the abundance of the trash. That REAL men do not have to chase every tail like the culture tells us they do, the REAL BROWN MEN can really stay true to one despite all of the "monogamy ain't for men" theories. THAT REAL MEN RESPECT THE HOME, LAS MUJERES, LOS VALORES, LOS PRINCIPIOS. I will NEVER, EVER settle because of your existence, because you're daily presence proves to me that there really just ain't no need to do so. I love you so for always staying true to the old soul inside of you, but letting us progress at our own pace. I love you always, dad!