Loose and Connected Thoughts: Fragments and wanderings of words and images by Damaris Iva Ferrer
Updated: Mar 19, 2022
Welcome to this blog that will hold my thoughts, stories and ideas in no particular order. Here I will share and attempt to capture, through a somewhat scattered formatting, how my brain processes and preserves only what I need. This curious function became evident to me as I gathered different pieces of writing I had done through out the years and realized that the gaps in my memory about life events were just part of an editing that occurs so that only the essence and resonance of events remain and therefore I no longer dwell on what I now understand as millions of bits of details that would just cause even more clutter in my already busy and crowded head.
My brain holds my infancy and early childhood in a box of scattered memories, smells, sounds and events whose missing links I have accepted as the things that served no purpose for me. All that has remained has become the foundation for the way I think, process, and ponder the world while also serving to establish the frequency in which I exist. That is, where exactly I find clarity among all the static.
Things I kind of remember
1970 something to 1980 something. Who am I? Just a spec on a rock with scattered thoughts that suddenly, and after many years, have come together to form this representation of life-happenings; through an excavation of my mind and its peculiar way of collecting and preserving.
I guess if I start from the beginning I am supposed to say that I was born on a tiny island to my parents, Noemi Santana Gonzalez and Rene Ismael Ferrer Castro. I was born on April 21st and came home on April 23rd, which was my older brothers birthday. Honestly, I don’t think he appreciated that.
Speckled tile floors Hot days Lots of light and sun The smell of coffee and sugar The screen door slamming shut English and Spanish gibberish Tang Frozen cans of pineapple juice Exploding bottles of Malta Large lizards A dog named Piro that bit me An outhouse that gave me terror
I was six years old when one day in school everyone was being rounded up and put in lines outside. I heard some kids say that they were giving everyone shots and that the lady doing it used a big gun. Naturally, I ran to hide. The school grounds were dusty and there were kids in long lines everywhere in the courtyard. The schools in Puerto Rico were mostly long buildings divided into small classrooms. The doors always remained open, as did the percianas. [What is that word in English? They are windows with metal flaps that open and close using a crank.]
To get from class to class one walked out through the courtyard or went up an outdoor staircase to a second level. Running thru the crowd I wasn’t sure where I could hide from the lady with the gun so I turned a corner and leaned up against a wall. I do not remember what I was thinking at that moment. I watched the crowd go past me until suddenly an older student grabbed me by the arm and asked me what grade I was in. I don’t remember if I answered him but I do remember that he not only escorted me to the correct line, he brought me right to the front.
So there she was, the lady with the big gun. She looked at me and I looked at her gun as I was pulled in closer to her. I guess I started crying. I really do not remember.
What I do remember was a sea of students and chaos and noise and that suddenly I was being grabbed and pulled away; this time by my mother. How did she know where to find me? How did she know which line I was in? How did she do that? At that moment I did not ask myself those questions. All I knew was that I had been rescued by a magical person and that I would not get a shot from the lady with the big gun. I think I was quiet on the ride home. I do not really remember any more than that.
Hot dogs on an airplane with my older brother Penguins Fuzzy winter hood around my head TV dinners and a sofa bed A concrete balcony high up in a building A billboard of an Indian with a tear running down his face Waiting to be picked up from school tap shoes My first bouquet of flowers
I was quiet at school and in public, but I remember singing the Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo song really loudly. I knew the steps and was wondering why some of the girls weren’t doing them. “am I the only one singing?”
My tutu was blue and itchy.
We moved alot [ Is that “a lot”…….as in moving an entire parking lot? Why is “alot” incorrect?]
The memory about the itchy tutu actually came before the scary vaccine gun memory. When I turn those around I can also remember another school. This one was also open and dusty and the main office was up on stilts like some kind of hut. I was taken in there once by an older student who was a dancer. She was told to teach me to belly dance because I was supposed to wear a belly dance costume for some school event about the different countries of the world. I remember her swaying her hips and asking me to do the same. I did nothing of the sort.
I believe she gave up on me and the day of the activity I marched down the isle with the other kids, who were dressed in a variety of costumes, and I was happy to do nothing more than that.
The school in New Jersey was where I went to Kindergarten. I cried when my mother left me there on the first day. My magic person left me. I don’t think that is what I thought at the time but I do remember fearing the loss of her on that and other occasions. Just a year before she had to leave my brother and I with my grandparents so she could come to the states to find work. I don’t remember crying, probably because no one made an issue of it to spare us that sadness. Years later my mother talked about this and told me that she cried on the airplane. I never saw my mother cry till much later in life. When we were kids she was a power beyond what we understood. When she was angry, we were silent and when she was happy, salsa music blasted throughout the house.
My Grandparents house was also on stilts. I think.
I do not remember the furniture and I do not remember how long I was there. Did my brother and I share a room? I do not remember anyone talking to me about anything. Was this when that stupid dog bit me? He was lucky that my mom wasn’t there to rescue me. She would have kicked his ass.
I like the heat. The sticky hot tropical air and the smell of rain is everything to me. The morning sounds also give me a sense of weight and security. Roosters, dogs, screen doors slamming, pots in the kitchen.
When we got to the airport in New Jersey, the air was cold and smelled of nothing. I think I was trying to smell but my nose felt funny. Someone put a winter coat on me. It was a brown plaid patterned coat with fur around the hood. This amused me.
The sky was gray and white.
My mom said she went to a different school for every grade. Perhaps this is why she took it all in stride, however now we were three kids and the world was so large and spread out. We weren’t particularly rowdy kids and in fact I don’t remember that we even talked to each other much. We followed behind our mom like three ducklings or maybe even three small sloths. Her pace was exhausting. Where she went, we followed ten paces behind her walking as fast as we could. When we arrived anywhere, she slowed down and expected nothing but good behavior. Museums, galleries, political events, visits to peoples homes, stores, the bank, a religious ceremony that involved dead chickens.
We had to run for the train once while lugging a baby carriage. I do not remember what baby that was. We were with our aunt Elsie. I think.
My mom ordered us to run fast and hold the train doors so we did, but when we got in, I panicked because I could still see my mom and her sister lugging the stroller down the last few steps. The doors were still open but the feeling that those doors would close and that my brothers and I would be taken away by the train, without our mother, hit me like a punch in the gut and I began to cry. Two seconds later they were in the train with us and the doors shut. My mom asked me why I was crying and I said nothing. She did not know my fear.
Pay phones Subway tokens The smell of urine White pigeon shit The onion-bag man noise