So I started crying today when I went to the website that this photographer has up dedicated to photographs and stories from his trips to the Dominican Republic (among other things). I don’t know what did it, really: the photos of the landscape that I am yearning for so deeply, or the portraits of Dominican `boys' and children in various `settings'. Paul Gerace: I don't know if he's American, Dominican, Haitian, French, Canadian or what, but his tone is reminiscent of all the phrases that the French neo-colonialists occupying the northwest part of the island use. What wonderful, happy, loving people we are, we Dominicans. So generous, that we just GIVE our land, our children, our food, our clothes, our homes away. So generous. Our enthusiasm for life. A life marked by struggle and hustle, fragility and insecurity. Of course we love life. It's all most of us there have.
The peso has been dollarized, and food costs more there than in New York City and there is little I can do about it - me with all my dollars, appearing at cash registers in the supermarket, stationery store, bar or at food stalls in the fruit market - precisely because I work in dollars, and because I haven't made myself a permanent participant in the social/political/economic landscape. I'm registered with a political party there, but it's rare I go back to vote. I have a
Sigh. Home, homeland, land - these are all such complicated and complex questions for me. When I go home, I go not only to work (by work I mean write), but I also go as a tourist. I go to beaches, and I stay in hotels around the country, and I travel. I can leave when I want to or need to. As an adult, I have lived there twice. And left many more times than that. And yet, for all that so much of me wants to stay there - because of the taste of the soil that coats my skin, or the diesel smoke that drenches my hair, or the sound of music and voices and TV and birds and wind and factories and cars and children that sing to me constantly - the homophobia, the poverty that marks the legacy of colonialism, the limitations on my person/intellect and heart are too much for me.
What then, differentiates me from Paul? Other than some of the photographs we take? He is doing what he loves - taking photos of people and places in bright colors. I am doing what I love - soaking in the stories from the land on which I was born and vesseling them into novels, poems, and other forms. We are both doing what we love, and so who am I to feel so indignant? And so used? Aren't photos part of the commons - the space where art meets the public? Don't the 18 years Paul has of visiting a place constitute a significant basis for a relationship to that place, when many Dominicans haven't gone back in that same amount of time? Would this upset me so much if these were photos of
I guess the time has come for me to email Paul.