My island

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Take a look at the sky in the darkness of the night. The dark illuminates with stars in the sky. Only on my island have I seen stars shine so bright.

Fireflies buzz away across the street where my grandfather keeps his chickens and his crops. City life could never compare to the life on my island.

My grandfather wakes up every morning and feeds his animals. I woke up every morning to the sound of roosters singing the song of my island.

My grandmother danced and cleaned the morning away. She put her long black hair in a pony tale and the music began to flow around my head.

Children ran as fast as the motorcycles on the streets. My neighbors would come over at 12 and we would eat together. Everyone eats at 12pm on my island. My grandmothers biggest cause for complain was not having lunch cooked by 12.

The people on my island worked all day long but as soon as it was the weekend no one complained but just gave thanks to God. They gave thanks for the rain, for the sun, for the roosters, for the beautiful, and even the bad.

“Appreciate the bad. It only makes us stronger.”

“Appreciate the dark because even in the darkness there is some light.”

My island, a place where I learned simplicity is the biggest gift in life.

Why Don’t You Stay?

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The moon glistened, and the fireflies roamed across the street on my grandfathers land. There he kept his chickens, his cows, his grown vegetables and plantains. The lights have gone out, and I remember being frightened. My mom used to tell my siblings and I stories of how fireflies were the spirits of those who have passed away.

I thought this was true and I was terrified of them coming to close. That night no fireflies flew into our home, and the lights still remained off. Everyone in the neighborhood sat on their porches waiting for the electricity to come back on. 

It was beautifully cool that night. The stars shinned bright. I remember thinking how beautiful my parents birthplace was. I never see stars in New York I told my grandmother. 

My father sat in a plastic chair on the porch talking to my grandfather about his businesses and the life of a New Yorker. “Life over there is crazy,” he said. My father took a sip of his coconut water and said, “I appreciate the United States. It has given my children and I a lot of opportunities but I miss my country.” 

My grandmother told my parents, “Why don’t you guys stay?” They both looked at each other and said, “The children. They were born over there. They barely can speak Spanish right.” They laughed.

My grandmother cried every time we left back to the States. I never forget seeing her from outside the car window, waving and crying. How much I miss her. Sometimes I wonder what life would’ve been if I did stay and lived those last few years she had with her.

Its crazy, one moment she was alive asking over the phone when we were going to go visit her and now when I go over there all I have left to visit is her grave.

Somedays I feel like I can still feel her presence when I smell a certain perfume or see a firefly or butterfly.

I used to be scared of spirits visiting but now I know if she visits I am safe.

On days when I miss her, I think about that day. The lights out, the cool breeze, my dad drinking his coconut water, me staring at the fireflies and my grandmother asking why don’t we stay?