i will be proud of my pleasure

When Beyonce’s first visual album dropped, I remember feeling a new kind of exhilaration. The kind that wakes you up, confuses you, scares you, propels you; a magnetism so strong, an understanding that you don’t know quite yet what just happened to you, but you will do everything you can to find out. I remember sitting on my bed, five days before my 23rd birthday, watching “Grown Woman” for the first time and really letting the words sink in. “I can do whatever I want.” “I can do whatever I want.” Having grown up away from my family, I’ve always thought that to be exactly my life’s philosophy.”Priscila is always doing whatever she wants!” Sometimes, a praise. Sometimes, an accusation. But this was different. Because I love structure, I thrive in structure. I love the conquering of a structure. I make structure my b*tch. Crude? Yes. But it’s exactly how it feels.

“I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.” “I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.” I think it might have been the first moment in which I totally and 100% realized that there was a world one step wilder, smoother, more colorful than mastering the structure. And I was old enough to grab it. Beyonce in that moment presented a possibility I had never recognized and from that moment, I was hooked. I wanted more. 

I don’t think I’ve mastered the subtle and necessary art of not giving a damn, or the art of celebration: of self, of womanhood, of all my loudness, my harshness. Celebration. I’ve been inching into it. Slowly. But something also happened when I turned 25. An age at which I thought my brothers were already grown men of the world, belonging to the suits and the ties, and part of the solution for potable water in disenfranchised parts of Colombia. And they are. And they were. So what’s my 25? I’ve thought more about pleasure and what pleasure means in my life. Pleasure.

I’ve always chased pleasure. I smoked. I drank. I threw up. I kissed too many. I chased too much. Slipped away too many mornings. I wrote. I ran. Pleasure. Pleasure. Pleasure quietly ruling my life. The late realization has been tremendous. That word. Quietly, pleasure, quietly leading my life. Realizing that I will take any and all opportunities to feel good, to “feel myself,” to celebrate and to be celebrated. And yet. Quietly. And why?

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One Day at a Time

Listen, I grew up feeling very represented: dad was in congress, mom was a doctor, and (she crosses herself) Shakira, Juanes, and Sofia Vergara. There was no thing a Colombian could not do.

I remember moving here and watching lots of Mikes and Mollys, Hanks and Peggys, Jennifers and Rachels. One Lopez. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I didn’t have to, I had all that Shakira gumption. But it’s been sixteen years now.

Sixteen! And I remember crying over the balcony at ON YOUR FEET! The Musical so its author wouldn’t notice. Because I was ugly crying, completely overwhelmed. I realized that after eight years in conservatory, and fifteen pursuing theater, I had never, ever, ever heard a salsa number on stage. While I had felt represented all my life, I realized– snotty and M&Med up– that I had never actually seen or heard the sounds I left sixteen years ago on a theater stage. You know, that thing I went to conservatory for and paid gazillions of dollars to get good at? That dream? Snot aside, it was the first time I understood what representation does to a body. I didn’t know I needed that. Dad was in Congress, remember? But I did. It undid me. Disarmed me. Made me feel seen when I thought I was already in plenty of spotlight. It made me call my parents and thank them for their ridiculously generous hearts and impecable work ethic, both of which made it possible for me to even have that very experience. Because I was being represented in MY dream.

So yes. I support you #OneDayAtATime. Whole heartedly and full of gratitude. Because Latinos deserve laugh tracks and yellow living room scenes, too. So please keep writing them, and writing them well.

 

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