I've always been fascinated by cross-culture. I am, like so many of us, a mutt: Mexican-Irish-French. I'm fluent in both English and Spanish, and I can stumble my way in French, Papiamentu, and Dutch. I live on a 150K-inhabitant island where diversity is the norm: all the locals speak four (yes, FOUR) languages, and they speak all four way better than most people speak any second language. Over 50 nationalities — Antillean, Dutch, Colombian, Dominican, Venezuelan, German, English, Canadian, Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinian... well, you name it — cohabit in relative peaceful conflict. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and several other religions smile at each other from the doors of their places of worship.
It seems magical to me, this diversity — this tolerance! — and it crops up with reliable frequency in my writing. I want to explore those cross-cultural exchanges, dissect the point where conflict often emerges elsewhere to find out why it doesn't when it doesn't (here in Curaçao, for instance). I am enthralled by the differences, and always awed when, after careful and detailed consideration, those differences fade into a similarity that, in its uniqueness, is more than human... It borders on the transcendental.
That woman in yellow with the silly blue cloche-type hat? That's me. The man holding me so lovingly to him? The world's most wonderful man. No, I mean it. Listing evidence of his wonderfulness would require a blog of its own, so suffice it to say here that none of this would exist without him.
I've always been writing. I began keeping journals very early on; I remember receiving a Snoopy diary, complete with lock and a key (which I promptly lost) when I was maybe five. The first entries were short and eschewed much detail, but soon the pages became too small for everything that was worth observing and dissecting. I changed to the classic composition notebooks; the sight, rare nowadays, of those squiggly black-and-white covers still fills me with a sense of private rumination, of individual introspection. In those notebooks I discovered the incredibly complex range of feeling and thought that is myself, that is every human being ever born.
When I was eight, I won a short-story competition at school. I started writing fiction because of the bedtime stories my mother told me. They'd never been of the traditional kind. No, she made them up as she went along, and they never reached an ending, happy or otherwise, in a single night. They never made me sleepy, either. At some point my dad would call out,
"It's time to sleep, girls."
And that was that, at least for that night. Left alone, head spinning with these wild tales of princesses and fairies and animals that talked and got saved by little girls like me, it wasn't long before my imagination began to spin the thread by itself. And from there it was naught but a tiny step to the pen, as soon as I learned how to use one.
It was one of those bedtime stories, titled something like "Little Birds at Christmastime", that won the school competition. I was pleased, at the praise from my teachers and my parents, but mostly I was surprised — no, exhilarated — that I could tell a story that other people might like.
I was addicted.
Years later, through some very serendipitous happenings involving a crossed telephone wire (remember when that could happen?), I became involved with a small group of young poets and writers that began the community's first literary magazine. It was called Tinta Seca, and it lived successfully up to a couple of years ago (2012, I think). I only participated for a year or so in this project — life loves to put our mettle to the test — but what a year! To see my work in print for the first time! To give readings in public (to an admittedly small audience, but hey)! Tinta Seca, and the wonderful people who made it happen, gave me my first taste of what it feels to be a writer.
I knew it, then. This was the thing that I wanted. Most of all and more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. To write things that others wanted to read, yes, but — more powerfully as time passed — to write the way an artist paints: to render a portrait of the world, and get the world to look in as it would into a mirror, magnifying the glory and the decadence to the point where it must be not only looked at but acknowledged.
It took me nigh on two decades. No, not to achieve it; to begin.