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Was that You in the Grocery Store?

Dear L.,

For all intents and purposes, I decided to simply use your initial because the thought of phonetically spelling your name on my keyboard takes away the mystery and intrigue of this message. Few in my life know who you are, and if I’m being honest, your role in my story isn’t worth telling.

The definition of authenticity speaks to attaining something real and genuine. It isn’t cloudy like an off-shoot diamond or murky like a man-made lake. It offers a pureness, so much so, it blinds you. I’ve always wondered if my authenticity is what you felt every time you whispered a snide comment about us to your sister. Did I make your eyes hurt? Did your ears burn as if they were nipped by the bitter winter when you heard the sound of my voice? Is it the rawness I carry? Is it the unfiltered moments of my father? Or was it the sins of my mother?

My mother’s sins — what was it about them that bothered you all so? Was it the sin of her being a light-skinned Puerto Rican goddess? The sin of her poise and refinement? The sin of her encouragement to seek something greater than you? Was it the sin of showing us how to use your rejection as fuel to know and do better? Was it the sin of her compassion? The sin of teaching us the power of inquisitiveness? Was it the sin of allowing us to celebrate our mistakes?

No, it was none of those. The greatest sin she committed was that of gaiety — not clinging to the words of a matriarch who undeservingly held that title. It was my mother’s tenacious spirit, her authenticity that allowed her to cut through the bullshit and expose this unhealthy dynamic. She recognized what everyone tried so hard to deny — your beloved matriarch threw us out the window like old trash while parading her good works around like an altruistic fool because she couldn’t accept who we were and why we exist. Yes — that was it. My mother saw what I felt and knew in my heart. My mother, strong in her faith and dignified in her spirit, didn’t let your false dynasty hide the power of its truth nor did she accept the cruelty of its members at our expense.

We may share DNA — but there is a common misconception that because of our biological strands my debt hasn’t been paid to your family. Well, what I can tell you is that is nothing more than a common case of stolen identity. Who you think I am isn’t who I am, because I am I. The identity you have created for me is a falsehood. Delete it from your memory, your headspace. You can’t stir a pot of stew without its ingredients —

My name isn’t your name. My family isn’t your family. I acknowledge you not. I don’t play the games you play. I don’t entertain the lies you tell. I don’t watch the dramatics you produce. I use those things as examples to others that family isn’t defined by the historical nuances running through their veins, but the quiet moments built with those who add value to their character.

So to answer your question…

Yes, that was me in the grocery store shopping for the ingredients needed to celebrate life with family. Yes, that was me reaching in front of you to get the cheese. Yes, that was me in the grocery store recognizing your face and refusing to acknowledge your pettifogger spirit.