Stripped

by Diana Guzmán


In commemoration of the anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

This one is for you, my loving home:


It has been 70 days since my family was stripped from everything but hope. It has been a month since I've seen my brother, and four since I've seen my mother. I have cried more times than I can count in the last four months, but this past month has been the worst.

Last year I moved 1,557 miles away from home. Even though everyone tried to prepare me for the distress this detachment would bring me, I genuinely never listened. Every goodbye felt unreal and realizing that I was leaving for my own benefit, hurt. The socioeconomic status of my island was too much of an obstacle, and so I moved without complaining, to the only other place on Earth that I truly love, 1,557 miles away: Washington, DC.

It felt unfair leaving the way I did. I had everything I needed back home, but it wasn’t enough. The guilt rushed like a tidal wave crashing over me, and that guilt intensified the day I left.  Leaving my home made me hypersensitive. I felt happiness, guilt, nervousness, homesickness and most of all, I felt uncertainty about what my future could hold. Against all these doubts and mixed feelings I felt in my core, I was happy about my decision. Within a month I fell in love with this city and all it brought me. Even though I missed everything about my little island, I had grown to love DC almost the same. Both places had become part of the vision I had longed for.

Just as I was adapting to my new life, chaos struck my little island. Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico, not only the infrastructure and environment, but it’s people. They have been left in total devastation. I can’t think about anything other than my island and my family for even a split second. Once I start to think about my life here, I’m hit once more by the fact that they are still suffering from lack of water, electricity, food and just pure exhaustion. It’s selfish of me to think I am the only thing that would’ve felt different when I went back home. I can’t help but grieve for everything that I’ve lost, and the upcoming repercussions that have yet to strike. People who I love have suffered and are still suffering 70 days after.

As a result of the conditions my family was facing, my brother moved 1,814 miles and my grandma 1,150 miles away from our loving home, while my mom stayed behind. Now the woman who sacrificed everything for those she loves, is the one stuck in the worse possible situation. Once again she has sacrificed everything to offer us all an opportunity for a better life.

These days uncertainty roams around me like a haunting ghost. I am totally intimidated by this fear of inconclusiveness that taunts me every waking moment. Hurricane Maria stripped me. Now I'm grieving, and I only feel regret for taking everything I had for granted. 

Having said all of this, unfortunately this is one of the less tragic stories from this terrible catastrophe. There are people without beds sheltered by tarps, with no food nor water, and all we were given, or better yet, thrown, were paper towels. Despite all the funds raised, the aid that was needed was never attained. And to this day all these people remain unable to communicate, waiting in their destroyed homes under the boiling sun, filled with hope that help will come and save them from what until now seems like a never ending Hell.



This is for you.

4,645.


Diana (she/her) is a second year from San Juan, Puerto Rico pursuing a BA in Communications Studies from the School of Communication, as well as a Marketing minor from the Kogod School of Business. Her passion for reading and writing lead her to create a blog called My Typewritten Travels, where she can inspire others in the same way others have inspired her. She also enjoys brunches and beach days with her family and friends.