Scar Tissue | 40.) Bachata

Dust danced along sun rays, hitting your face. I am 15. The kettle whistles. Palm trees sway outside your patio window. I stand beside you, with my arms wrapped around your waist. You’re stirring a pot of oats over the stove. Your father sings loudly over the radio. Deep, bravado laugh and a wide smile.

A flood of nurses rush into the room. You are 19. I’m sorry mijo. Flat lines. The needles and tubes are removed from his arms. The song changes on the radio. Your knees hit the ground.

Across the street, an elderly couple breaks out in bachata outside the bodega. We are a little bit older now. The sidewalk is sweltering. The neighborhood kids pop a hydrant and you get lost in a song. You let out a deep, bravado laugh and a wide smile.

We clasp hands and move in close. We are much older now. Kiss me, as my body moves with yours. The sun drops into the Atlantic, and the sky is painted in purple and gold. I press my cheek against yours. History washes over us.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 39.) Hero’s Journey

I’ve died and came back to life.

The moments leading up to my death were loud, dramatic, like the climax of a story. I’m a novel filled with washed pages — I can see the chapters that came before, but I can’t make out the sentences on heavily worn, dirty pages.

I’ve spent endless nights dusting off these pages, picking apart words. I thought, somewhere in there, is the roadmap back to myself. While digging tirelessly, I missed the sight of new words flooding fresh blank pages. I ignored the evolution of the main character of this story.

Today I’ve begun planting magic in the creases of pages. After everything, how could I not? How could I not give this hero a second chance?

 

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 38.) Rebirth

I let the Atlantic carry me
it’s breeze
cradled by crashing waves,
catching my heels,
stumbling
into my future

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 37.) Reunion Pt. 2

I extend a shaky hand at the mirror
Frightened, she steps forward

The universe shuttered — finally
The stars sink into the distance, sighing in relief.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 36.) Reunion

I have finally stepped into the woman
I have labored so hard to be
She came to me in the night
I wept at the sight of her light

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 35.) Dreamcatcher

“This one, Ma!” I point at a large woven basket filled with dreamcatchers. A small plastic doll smiles back at me. Wooden beads woven perfectly. I wonder if these webs, and the little braided heroine will catch my night terrors. I am 15. We are 2 hours outside of Las Vegas standing on a Native American reservation. I do not know which one. But I do remember vividly the red dirt kicked up by my father’s heels and an enormous canyon in the distance.

I lock eyes with it from the window. Flying Tiger, Copenhagen. That is the name of this quaint little boutique. I’m 10 stops away on the R train, standing in the brand new City Point shopping center in downtown Brooklyn. I’ve finally surrendered to the possibility that I’ve found home in our little apartment. Suddenly I’m reminded of that braided heroine, pressed against wood paneling, hanging on the wall of my childhood bedroom. I wonder if her magic is still potent sitting in a landfill. I wonder if this one’s the real deal. I walk to the cashier. The web catches not a single terror this week. I leave it up above our bed anyway.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 34.) Blending In

The shopkeeper’s bell announces our arrival. I step through the front door, alerting the man at the counter. I smile and nod before taking a seat by the window.

Every day we get up at 6. I put on deodorant. He pats cologne on his neck. I rub coconut oil into the palms of my hands. He insists I do a better job. He shakes his fro back and forth, curls glistening.

Smiling in the mirror.

Soon we head out to do what we do best: blend in.

I watch business men shuffle towards the train station.

I order 2 muffins and 2 coffees. I open my laptop and connect to WiFi.

Thomas sits next to me, briefcase in lap. “Okay, I’ve got 15 minutes to send off this lesson plan.”

Soon I do what I do best: Make magic on the screen. He insists I do a better job anyway. While he scarfs down that muffin, I attached today’s lesson plan to an e-mail and hit send.

He kisses me and leaves.

I sit there for the next 8 hours and write.

Every few hours, I take a break and scan for jobs on Indeed. I ask the man at the counter for the bathroom key. Then I get back to writing. I write what you are reading right now. Then I write what you’ll read next week. I write until Thomas comes back. Then I do it again the next day.

I wonder if my presence annoys the man at the counter. I wonder if I’m blending in well enough. I wonder if he’ll ask me to leave. I wonder where I’ll go if he does. I wonder if I’m carrying too much. I wonder if my laptop will get stolen. I wonder how I’ll cope if that happens. I wonder if the woman sitting across from me thinks I’m a bum. I wonder if she thinks I’m a fake bum. Like a rich bum. Not a real one. A hipster. You know, like this is all just look.

“I’m one stop away.” A message flashes on the screen. I quickly close my laptop, collect  my things, and rush to meet him at the train station.

“McDonald’s again?”

“Sure.”

In the distance, the sun begins to set. A sadness washes over me. I pick fries out the bag as we walk back to the shelter.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

 

 

Scar Tissue | 33.) Jerk Chicken

I’m picking gum off the kitchen tile. Before picking gum out from under my fingernails. I feel a little embarrassed about my unshaven legs but figured I have more important things to worry about.

Shay hands me the tongs.

“Wait for it to get brown, then turn it.”

Henry, our crippled mouse, scurries back and forth between overflowing trash bins and the stove. I feel bad for that mouse. He’s a bold one though, dragging his back leg behind him.

She pulls a well-charred leg out of the pan, with drippings, and slowly starts filling paper plates.

“Too spicy?”

Dominique pulls a bottle out from the back of her sweatpants and hands it to me. She snatches it back at the sight of a guard.

“Trust me on this.” Shay pours a can of crushed pineapple in the pan and begins to stir slowly. “It’ll make it sweet. It’ll cut the heat.”

Shay and Dominique got locked out a few days later. They called me, frantic, and asked me to break into their room and throw all their stuff in plastic bins and hide it under my bed.

“We can’t afford to lose everything again.”

Three months go by.

“Use it. Dump it. You don’t have to keep it.”

I couldn’t keep everything. By the time we signed a lease, they crossed the border into Pennsylvania.

I started blending their belongings into mine. On the top shelf of my closet is a box with Shay’s anxiety medication, her state ID, birth certificate, and debit card. I have a backpack of their belongings. Expired condoms, pay stubs.

Her phone is still disconnected. The shelter won’t release any information.

“Don’t go to the police.”

I started blending their belongings into mine. I took the Zoloft. I trashed the condoms. I pushed the jerk seasoning to the back of the cabinet.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 32.) Reflection

Tossing and turning. I could never sleep on my back. As soon as I start slipping, I switch sides again.
I look at the clock.
It’s 4 am again.
5.
6.
The light peaks through crooked blinds.
I sit up, stand up, and sneak out again. I leave my key under my pillow and leave the door cracked.
They don’t have mirrors here.
Mirrors shatter. Shattered mirrors slit writs and throats.
Around the corner, a woman takes a chef’s knife to a cutting board.
I haven’t seen my face in months. I wonder about the bags under my eyes. I could buy a compact. I could take a selfie. I could walk into any department store, but, I haven’t washed my hair in months. I haven’t called anyone in months.
I splash water on my face and stare at the wall, where the mirror should be. I see blank, white brick. I wonder if tonight is the night.
But, it’s morning.
I creep back out into the hallway. Slip back into the room. Slide my hand under my pillow, clasping my key.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 31.) Survivor’s Guilt

I deserve this.

Regardless of how often my mother says it, how often I write it, it doesn’t quite sink it. It doesn’t quite register. My brain still rejects it.

Why me?

Must I punish myself, sacrifice myself, drown myself, for all those who didn’t make it out?

Just to resurrect myself, over and over again, for my mother, my husband, and my children and grandchildren yet to be born? Don’t I owe my husband my best? Don’t I owe it to myself, too?

Am I wrong to claim this for myself? For us? Do I have permission to seek joy and experience it?

So today, I choose to live. I’ll do it today and tomorrow, for Franky. I’ll do it next week, next month, and next year, for Shay.

Because they’d want me to.

I’ll chase the horizon again.

 

Author’s Note:

First and foremost, thank you for being here. Thank you for following Scar Tissue, loyally, for the better half of 6 months. Thank you for walking this path with me.

Initially, I didn’t suspect I’d continue Scar Tissue. This doesn’t mean I intended to abandon the story, however, the project has weighed heavily on my mental health, and a break was needed. A lot of the material I’ve been working through continues to be very personal, very hard to write, and to be frank with you all, I wasn’t sure where I was going with all of this.

I’ve had to sit down and really think about what greater purpose there is to my story. I finally came to the realization that there is none. As a writer, the only purpose is to tell a story, as best as I can, as true as can be. There is no agenda, political or not.

Scar Tissue is my life. It is a memoir. I am a writer first, and this is my story.

Of course, this is not to say that the issues featured in my story are not of great importance to me! However, Scar Tissue is the raw, the grit, the unbiased. It just is. What it is.

I welcome a dialogue. I welcome conversation. But, please, keep in mind, not everything you will read will be politically correct. This is why I am making such a clarification now.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”