In the wake of Maria, I stuck speaking to my father on the phone until the connection was shut down completely. We were up until late at night, talking about how the family has been, and what precautionary measures were taking in the light of this storm. None of us, really knew, how horrible the effect the hurricane left would be. This time last year I had already been starting classes in Towson University, located in Baltimore, Maryland. Being located in the US while my family was going through this tragedy, was one of the most heart wrenching experiences I could have gone through.
My family was living in Vega Alta at the time, while most of my other Puerto Rican family members were in the town of Cupey. The day after the hurricane, I had contact with none. This, of course, brought the worst ideas as to how and where they were. One by one, Tweets and Facebook posts started rolling in. The first I saw of anywhere close to Vega Alta were photos of Toa Alta, Dorado, completely flooded. I saw pictures of the businesses off the exit on the highway of Dorado, underwater, showing only the signs submerged.
Still, no contact with my parents, but my aunt in Cupey managed to get some sort of connection after the third day. It would not be until two weeks later, that I would receive a phone call from a 787 number at 10am on a Saturday morning. It was my father, calling from someone else’s phone at the gas station. The calls were sporadic one week in, but then they became more frequent, and after a few weeks I would soon be able to call their own phone number instead of waiting by my phone and wait for them to be able to reach me on someone else’s.
Although I was not physically in Puerto Rico during my Maria, it had felt that my heart escaped and lost connection with my family in Vega Alta. I felt the diaspora badly, and continually checked on my friends to see if they were okay. My weekend consisted of dropping off supplies at the many business offering to donate items to Maria, and Puerto Rico’s crisis became my personal battle. Many of my friends also dealing with the diaspora felt similar sentiments. And in the wake of this humanitarian crisis, we all became close to one another, tangled in our traumas and intertwined with our longing for our people and isla of Borínken.