An old acquaintance once told me “Te gusta vivir la vida loca, pero creo que ya es tiempo de tener tus hijos.” This served as the ever-needed reminder of why I have no interest in rekindling friendships with Islanders I haven’t spoken to in more than ten years.
Life on The Island is trite at best. And if you grow breathless with anticipation as you long for a sliver of unpredictability, I’d say put your money on hurricanes (I endured two of them).
The reality is that Islanders are handed a script at birth that stipulates how to live life to the fullest, provided of course, they stay within the parameters of what constitutes appropriate behavior. Choose to stray, and a firm reminder to stay the course will arise in the form of “Y tú no eres la hija de los señores tal?” Or the more popular, “pero tu familia no son los Perensejos de (insert province here).” Thus, it is no surprise that the timeline of an Islander begins with attending elementary schools with myriad supranational accreditations. In college, the career choices are ingeniería, odontología, medicina, administración de empresa, arquitectura, derecho, and hotelería (forget about teaching, journalism, fine arts, as these fields are reserved for lesser mortals). Studying en el exterior in efforts to do an especialidad while sustaining a faithful long distance relationship is in order. But you need not to worry about loyalty if you’re an Islander male, porque hay dos clases de mujeres, las que se cogen de relajo, y las que son para casarse. You come back from doing your posgrado, and off you marry your high-school or college sweetheart (see April 2, 2010). You partner-up in a business with your spouse. Have a kid, then another. If they are both boys, a buscar la hembra se ha dicho. There you have it. The sweet life wrapped in lino bordado a mano where it rains almíbar every day. Of course, it isn’t until the philandering husband starts sleeping with his 20-year old secretary that the prickle of reality suddenly kicks in. (But this we’ll discuss at another juncture).
Enter me. In Island terms: chulísima, aperísima, in my absence una maldita loca vieja (more on Island hypocrisy in the future). I don’t take it personal though, because the fact is that Islanders live vicariously through Us. So when they are in the presence of someone who is bold enough to make a fashion statement, speak openly about their sexuality, state a lack of interest in nuptials or breeding, enjoy a drink or two, talk about a curiosity in eastern philosophies, or articulate decisions in career switching; the best They can do to shroud the underlying envy that stems from the inability to step out of the mold is to dismiss any sign of individuality (or a speck of eccentricity) as being a drug addict, a whore, gay. It’s paradoxical. They hate you, but they so want to be like you. The never-ending references to la Carrie Bradshaw de Santiago, or el Seinfeld dominicano might have you convinced for a second that el país está cambiando, then uttered words like liberal and libertinaje (still very entrenched in Island lexicon), make you rethink your position. To exemplify this, when Chanel launched its touchstone color of the nineties Vamp, I vowed never to sport any color lighter than such. Upon arriving to The Island, I was immediately greeted with… “¿Y ese cutel de cuero?”
Need I say more?
The fact is I’d rather live la vida loca than live la vida de galleticas Hatuey-Guarina. Here in la vida loca, we are free to do what we want any old-time answering to no one but ourselves. Most importantly, we do not fear Doña Persenseja in her two-piece traje de lino bordado a mano, because before her words of scrutiny “Pero esa muchacha no parece hija de esa familia” loom, she knows quite well that this maldita loca vieja will toast to the freedom of being able to say: “mind your own fucking business.”