Never Let that Go

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I was born in Puerto Rico, my parents were born in Puerto Rico, and my grandparents were born in Puerto Rico, too. I can even take it one more generation back and say that my great-grandparents were also born in Puerto Rico. Throughout my 21 years of life, I’ve lived in Hawaii, Georgia, New York, and, of course, Puerto Rico. I currently live in Maryland and have been here for the past 11 years. Yes, I was educated in American schools and, yes, most of my friends are not native Spanish speakers, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost touch with where I came from. Living in the DMV for so many years has done nothing to change my roots because nothing can change that. No matter what, I will always be Puerto Rican. I will always be from Callejón Bosque in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico.

For those of you who have never been to Sabana Grande, it is a small town on the Southwest side of the island about two hours away from the capital. The town itself has no streetlights, is centered around the historic plaza, and is most known for a 1950’s sighting of the Virgin Mary. Most people from Sabana Grande stay in Sabana Grande. Even more people have never left the island and probably never will. My street is a humble one with no fancy houses or adornments. It’s just the wooden and cement houses in el callejón that I remember from my childhood. This is where I come from and I’ll never forget that.

Everything I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing up until this point is something that I could not have had in Sabana Grande. The opportunities, the travelling, the exposure to different things, the lack of limitations to what is possible in my life are all because I left Puerto Rico, but it’s also because I’m from Puerto Rico that I know the value of these things. I know what life is like in Puerto Rico. I’ve seen a glimpse of what life is like outside of the United States, so I appreciate what I have and try to stay humble. I think about my home in Sabana Grande and it reminds me of where I’ve been and where I came from. It puts into perspective how much I’ve accomplished and it motivates me to accomplish even more.

I’m reminded that, although success or at least getting by may be enough to survive, it’s certainly not enough to live. You won’t be exposed to opportunity. You won’t be able to experience new things. You won’t be able to do what you want. So essentially you won’t be living. I don’t view me living in Maryland as a way to run away from my roots because as I said earlier there is no changing my birthplace, heritage, or ancestry. Instead, I view living in Maryland as a chance to live, a chance to do better. I have the background to understand the value of what I have and I have the opportunity to do something with that.

A person can never forget where they came from. They should never let go of their roots. Our roots are what keep us grounded, they’re a marker of our progress, they’re a part of who we are. In this world, we have gravity to keep us down on Earth. In a race, you have a starting point to show how far you’ve gone and, in life, you have your roots to do just that. You can never change what is inherently yours, so you should never forget it. These are all ways how your origin is so important. Always remember where you came from. Never let that go.

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About Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the mainland United States, I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and am a 2016 VONA Voices Alumna. I currently perform spoken-word in the greater Washington D.C. area and have previously performed in Philadelphia, Miami, and the Dominican Republic. Most recently, I have been published in Public Pool, Spillwords, and The Acentos Review, and Here Comes Everyone: East & West Issue.

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