Can ones travel persona survive or thrive in their everyday life?
I am a very different person when I travel. The shock of returning to my calm, cautious life in Oakland sent me on an internal journey, in exploration of what I want and I what my definition of living really is. The result of that exploration…I want Cuba~Maude to come live in Oakland.
Who is Cuba~Maude? I asked myself.
Cuba~Maude has stamina. She dances for 3 hours in the morning, goes home to shower and change. She takes afternoon walks around the neighborhood in search of something new and interesting. She speaks to strangers on the street, looks them in the eyes and smiles at them as she passes. She joins her Cuba family for dinner, takes a nap, then gets dolled up and head out for a night of fun, flirting and laughter. And through the night, she sleeps deeply.
Cuba~Maude feels everything. She’s perceptive and intuitive. She notices the effects of colonialism on the interactions between black men and black women and the interactions of those same black men and white women. She experiences the pain of being dark-skin in a world that has an unspoken code that says dark-skin women are not worth as much as white women. She feels that pain and allows herself to cry – the ugly cry. And then while crying, Cuba~Maude is still open and loving enough that she allows herself to be comforted by a new friend, who happens to be one of the women who reaps the benefit of that unspoken code. Although, I’m not sure “benefit” is the right word.
Cuba~Maude stays fly. She takes her time and coordinates her outfits in a brand-new combination each day. She paints her nails and prepares her hair at night. Cuba~Maude is free to be a sexual grown ass woman. She notices her beauty and nurtures it. She feels sexy. She’s playful with men and women. She flirts whenever the mood strikes. She knows she’s fine and that shows in the confident way she moves, the way she laughs, the way she dances in the street, the way she speaks a language that is not her native tongue. She’s open to love and friendship. For Cuba~Maude, being single is an advantage because there is nothing to apologize for later. She’s never lonely, because every moment presents another opportunity to meet a beautiful international lover who will bring a new culture, a new way of life into her world.
Cuba~Maude knows who she is, she is conscious of her skills and abilities and uses them to accomplish things. She uses her ability to draw people to her in order to find or create the opportunities she’s looking to experience. She uses her hood smarts to know when it’s time to tell an aggressive guy it’s time to part ways, in a way that he doesn’t even realize he’s being rejected in the moment. She uses her boss lady skills to negotiate in broken Spanish with club owners to get some of her new Cuban friends in the door at a discount. She uses her warrior woman posture to stop a drunk person from taking advantage of the group.
Cuba~Maude is committed and fearlessness in her desire to experience the local religions. She states who she wants to meet and goes in search of them. She dives into the waters of Cuban Yoruba with her whole self and is bold enough to be led down tiny streets into unknown houses to meet a babalao for readings and Ebos. She doesn’t allow her fear of being “the other” stop her from joining a new friend at a Jewish Synagogue for a Friday Shabbat. She simply puts on her most modest attire and jumps into the experience, being open and available to experiencing God wherever it shows up.
Cuba~Maude lives out loud. She feels every emotion when it presents itself. She’s not controlled by her emotion, but she doesn’t camouflage her feelings. She laughs out loud, with her head thrown back and many times until her stomach and cheeks hurts. She wails when the pains of the world become too much to bare. She fights back when fighting is necessary. She prays through it all, thanking God for every moment ~ for the growth, the laughter, the new friends, the challenges and simply for having the opportunity to Be Here, Now.
I’ve realized since I’ve returned home to Oakland, California, that when I was in Cuba, I felt alive! It was not a perfectly packaged experienced, and there were many times when things didn’t feel OK. But whatever was going on, I felt Alive! I felt every emotion, in its right and perfect moment. And the adrenaline that came with that was potent. This experience has given me a glimpse into what I believe living really is. Living, for me now, is being personally open and free to experience all the ups and the downs of life in the moment they are happening. To allow myself to feel the pain of this fucked up world when it shows itself as fucked up, and then to allow myself to smile uncontrollably when I’m seated at a dinner table with the most beautifully fun group of people. And to recognize that those two things are true~ in this fucked up world there are beautiful people who give me life and remind me of what happiness is. Horror and beauty share this space called earth, simultaneously.
I want Cuba~Maude to live with me here in Oakland. I want to feel alive, while at home. I want to feel free to express that which I feel, when I feel it. I don’t want to sugar coat shit. I don’t want to second guess my feelings and rationalize why I should make myself small around this person or that person. I don’t want past sexual trauma to influence my current relationships. I want to be Free! I want to be Alive! I want to Wake Up!
But is Oakland~Maude ready to let Cuba~Maude sleep in her bed, run her business, and tend to her children? Personally, I think Oakland~Maude desperately needs Cuba~Maude to revive her spirit right about now.
Let’s see. Let me give Oakland~Maude a taste of Cuba~Maude….I’ll tell you how it all works out!