This woman has no teeth. Her eyes are unproportionately large, her hair, pure grey. She obviously skipped her last few sessions of botox, is half the height of a super model, can’t remember who she is, has huge calloused feet from walking in the dirt barefoot her whole life, has nothing really to offer in terms of productiveness or service, her hands are crooked and wrinkled, she has no womanly figure to speak of any more. And she is the most beautiful, breathtaking thing that I laid eyes on this year.
Her name is Latina.
What is it about brokenness, about things ancient, used up and yet still somehow unchanged that is so attractive over time?
I feel the same way about Haiti, about the earthquake rubble, about the lady in my neighborhood with stubs for arms, the precious little girl with orange skin, the piles of trash to pick through for new recycling ideas, the teasingly inconsistent everything here, and the way that my life in Haiti only half accomplishes what it should in three times as long. It has become my place of rest. This broken country so beautiful to me.
I loved China. The efficiency, the cleanliness, the amazing streamlined production, the meticulous importing and exporting of everything, the starched collared guards at every corner. But it was not home. It was not comfortable. It was not something to sink into. Haiti is comfortable to me.
The thought of this scares me as I know that in order for Haitians to someday move past the bondage of poverty, things have to change. Marketing, importing, music, clothing, internet, jobs, food.. it’s all changing. People are being trained, leaders rising up, tents going down, buildings going up. And all of it is so tearfully good. So good.
But there is something to the idea of timelessness. Of leaving a piece of the Berlin Wall in tact, the sacred space of Ground Zero undisturbed, the scar from a horrible childhood incident not erased, the broken pieces of your heart still on your sleeve that brings something living and real to what the fabric of Haiti is.
May Haiti be all that she can be. May Haiti rise up to be the cool breeze that refreshes the Caribbean and blesses the world with her beauty, people, and culture as her kids start to receive education, her moms and dads fill their calling to work, the young and old alike need not die for lack of medical care, and her plants and animals need not be broken and abused anymore.
But may she never lose her wrinkles, her scars, her weathered feet that bring all that she is becoming into a new kind of beauty. She is not broken to beautiful, but rather beauty because of her brokenness.
She is my Latina.
And may the stunningly gorgeous Latina live to be 300 years old (if she’s not already) so that every time I venture into the paradise of the Furcy mountains, I can see her face and melt in her glow.