An Kreyol: Depi moun rankontre’m yo toujou mande’m kisa mwen vle. Kisa Paola vle? Paola vle al tout kote. Li vle al rankontre tout moun ki ap fè yon bagay pozitif pou peyi yo, pou pitit yo, pou frè ak sè yo, pou libète e pou lanmou. Li vle koze avek moun ki bal kouraj pou’l viv ! Li vle moun sòti nan mantalite esklavaj la. Ann koze, ann pale, ann vanse. Fòk nouvel jenerasyon sa vi’n ansanm pou nou ka fè chanjman. Epi, that’s it.
En Français: On me demande toujours ce que je veux. Qu’est ce que Paola veut ? Elle veut voyager partout. Elle veut rencontrer les gens qui font des choses positives pour leurs pays, leurs enfants, leurs frères et sœurs, pour la liberté et pour l’amour. Elle veut parler avec les gens qui donnent le courage de vivre! Elle veut qu’on sorte de la mentalité d’esclavage. Allons discuter, allons parler, allons avancer. Il faut que la nouvelle génération se réunisse pour faire un changement. Epi, that’s it.
In English: People always ask me what I want. What does Paola want? She wants to go everywhere, to meet anyone who is doing something positive for their country, their children, their brothers and sisters for freedom and for love. She wants to talk to people who give her the courage to live! She wants people to leave the slave mentality. Let’s discuss, let’s talk, and let’s step forward. The new generation has to come together for a change. Epi, that’s it.
My story? Here’s a snippet…
My name is Paola, and I am from Haiti. Petion-ville, Haiti to be exact. I have been living in the U.S. for over a decade, and every year, I feel closer to Haiti than I have ever felt when I lived there. Everyday, I think of the life I had there, and how much of it I miss. I think about the people, the economic state, the art, the music, the city, the history, and the deserted mountain tops. I think about the stories I used to listen to in the dark whenever there was a blackout. I think about the “Tim tim? Bwa sech” jokes we used to repeat in soft candlelight. I think about how beautiful it used to look during Christmas when I glanced outside, and the entire street was populated with street vendors and their candles and lamps over their merchandise. The street at 11:00 pm was transformed into a giant christmas tree. I also think about the many things I never got see, like the Citadelle Laferiere, Jakmel, Gonayiv, and other parts of Haiti. I think about the country’s beauties as well as its misfortunes. Lastly, I think about its godforsaken poverty every single day.
Of course when I lived there, I hated more things about Haiti than I loved. I hated the sudden blackouts when I was trying to read. Although now I’m thinking about how much I loved making shadow puppets in the dark and listening to those jokes and stories I would always give my full attention to. They were so fascinating back then! If it weren’t for the darkness, those wonderful things that I remember so clearly about my childhood would not have existed. If it weren’t for the darkness, those strange thoughts that still haunt me here at night, which I think make me stronger today, would not be part of my story. I owe a lot to that darkness.
I still have flashbacks of when I used to lie in the dark thinking about a different life. A better life. A more exciting life! Don’t get me wrong, I had everything I needed as a child. I attended a great school. I had countless dolls I would misplace. Some were decapitated by my misbehaved, spoiled little brother. I had tons of books to read. I had an after-school tutor, and household help. But I could not stand it. I felt imprisoned, suffocated, glued down. I was always curious about life elsewhere…
One of the best days of my childhood was the day I discovered the box of books in an attic-like space in my house. I used to climb up there and stay there for hours and read romance novels while I was covered with dust and spider webs. I used to hide them because at that time, I was too young to read these kinds of books. I learned about kissing, falling in love and other things I have never experienced before. I paid close attention to the different lifestyles, and the way the characters behaved and interacted in the novels. Then I began to act like them. I demanded coffee. I put on a bathrobe when I got out of bed pretending it was chilly although it’s always intensely hot where I lived in Haiti. I had a bedside lamp which I would turn on to do my readings just like those characters even though the electricity was out 80% of the time. I became a daydreamer. I used to escape in my books. I used to get yelled at because of them. Hell, I got beaten because of them. I was in a trance, and nobody could get me out.
Now here I am, living in New York City. Living in a wonderful studio apartment on my own. Speaking fluent English. Wearing fluffy bathrobe because it actually gets chilly. I graduated college with a BA in economics and French literature. I have an amazing boyfriend whom I love very much, and a very supportive family. I take everyday as a new adventure, and I learn something from it as well. I can’t wait to meet more people. To see more. To feel more. To taste more. And to love more.
This blog is about my life in New York City, and some memories from the past.
I will post about everything I love about this city no matter how strange. The smells, the people, the landscape. My favorite bars, intersections, attractions, buildings. My adventures, and misadventures. I also started a photo project, Jump File Project where I (and sometimes, a friend or two) jump around different landmarks and popular spots in NYC. Click on the link at the header to find out more. I’ve immersed myself in Haitian activities in New York, where I often post about events and people of interest. I also initiated Ansanm Nou Se Ayiti, a creative project and movement. You’ll hear more about that soon. Ann vanse pou Ayiti. [Updated March 4, 2013]
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