... it would have a picture of a family of four, all of us together, as we often feel we are. There would be two men in this picture, one of them representing the life we had and the other, the life we’re building. They’d both be there because they’re both with us. Because one would not be here if it were not for the other.
I spent three days among people like me at the Poynter Institute's Power of Diverse Voices seminar — writers of color; immigrants, children of immigrants, original owners of the land on which the United States was built and builders of this new country whose careers have been punctuated by a self-defeating sense of wanting. We are people of rich histories and stories who have felt consistently undermined exactly because we are who we are when it is in the things that make us us that our super powers reside.
I am ecstatic to introduce to you the first recipient of the Mike Saucier Memorial Scholarship, created in honor of my husband, whom cancer stole from us, but who lives in us.
I've thought of you often this summer, thought of you even as I navigated the winding roads of São Miguel, one of the islands in the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago where Flora and I spent part of our summer. It was a magical time and also a time for reflection, redefinition and redirection. This was the time and the place where we found our way.
I thought I'd die alone. In fact, I'd convinced myself that I didn't need a man to make me happy, and make me whole, because the love I had received from Mike from the day we'd met until the day he died was enough to fulfill me for a lifetime.
One day at a time.
Death redefines life. It redefines words and exposes their complications, their other meanings, layers. Those of us who live with Death operate in this space of redefinition, a space that forces a redefinition of self.
Who am I, really? Whom have I become?
Some days are tough, aren't they? Tough for no apparent reason sometimes and other times, tough for reasons that are too painful to acknowledge. There are days I attempt to bury those reasons deep inside — my insecurities, the weight of so many responsibilities on my weary shoulders, the money that's always tight and the plans that often have to be recalibrated because of that. We still have our dreams, though, and we hold on to them tightly and closely. Because dreams are possible, as impossible as they may seem as we're having them. Whenever I doubt that, I remind myself that I left my home country carrying a single suitcase and a dream, and that my dream became reality.
Art by Jia Sung, for Guernica Magazine
The other day, I was listening to Anna Flores, a child of undocumented immigrants who calls herself lucky to be from the “right” side of the border, the side that bestows automatic citizenship upon those who are born there — here — in these United States. Anna is a poet and we were both speakers at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars conference at the Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing in Tempe, Arizona. Anna told me that she has three brothers who were born on the other side of the border, the “wrong” side, and that they walked across the desert to get to Arizona, but then they were deported, returned to where they’d come from even though it is here that they believe they belong.
Antelope Canyon by Fernanda Santos
Something changed on a bitterly cold evening in suburban Boston, two days before this past Christmas, at the home of a friend that was his and became mine.
I am an immigrant.
I moved to the United States at the age of 25.
English is not my native language.
But I made a career writing in English and wrote for 12 years for The New York Times. The New York F-ing Times.
I still write.
WHY – AND HOW – I WRITE
The key to writing a good story is knowing what you don’t know and finding the right people and documents to help you learn it. You have a fundamental question that leads to a bunch of other questions that need to be answered so that your fundamental question makes sense. This is how I write.
Follow along with Fernanda and get occasional stories.