Posted by: posthaiti | March 30, 2010

vodou: part quatre

sorry i haven’t written. or called, texted, or FB’d. seems to be my modus operandi these days. i get scolded by a lot of people, all the time: you never [fill in the blank with your preferred method of communicating]! oh, but i do…in words, on digital paper, in my head! actually, i’ve always hated talking on the phone, and now, it’s much, much worse. is it just me, or is it that the older we get, the less trusting we become of others, and worse, the more likely we simply want to be alone? on one level, i’ve found it to be a rather productive turn of passion: i can learn about myself, minus the distraction and “obstacles” of another person and his or her baggage. on the other hand, i increasingly long for connection and companionship and worry that i’ll be alone forever. what up with that?

i’ll be 36 this year. is this the time one starts to consider one’s mortality as well, actually real? cuz if so, i am definitely on schedule. before, of course, i considered death — it’s possible, you know? — and like everyone else, wondered what happened when the lights went out. do they go back on? do we float away, like a gravity-defying marshmallow pinwheel (you know you love ’em, too)? does everything just go black, but we’re no longer aware so we couldn’t give a rat’s ass anyway? OR, my worst fear, are we relegated to stay in our beds, alone at night, but the night is endless and the walls of the room are slowly, surely shrinking in on us, and we’re thoughtful, or at least, conscious of our thoughts, or lack thereof; there is nothing to look forward to and no day will ever come again and with it, no breakfast, no walk, no book, no tree swaying with new buds in the wind, no person, no distraction? it’d be like, floating in the outermost exteriors of space, forever. scary scary. that feeling of being forced to keep thinking, breathing through an eternity of dark loneliness — that sounds more like hell than any version of a benign afterlife, so maybe i’m just prepping for the worst?

now that i’ve got your attention, haiti! ahh, the smell of burning garbage, the searing heat, the funny fluttering of haitian creole floating around the air, the dirt streets, the smiles and jokes. i fear being emotional (emotionally overcome?) when i get there, seeing the streets and buildings and people, all broken. i can’t imagine it, and i don’t want to. experiencing it, i know, is the only thing that’s going to make it sink in. (i plan to go for about 4-6 weeks, leaving somewhere between april 18 and may 3. i simply cannot wait.)

and what about flo? do we just let her go, as the vodou priestess told us to at the ceremony in boston almost a month ago? let the dead go so that they can move full-speed ahead into the afterlife/world of the ancestors/who knows maybe that big black nothingness that is worse than hanging out in the dark matter?

why do i have such a fearful, negative view of death, i thought to myself last night? i looked at my hand, cupped against my pillow, and saw the faint glow of the orange nail polish on its fingertips. hmm. i turned it left and right and for some reason my hand looked bright white and glowing, too. i remember once upon a time believing in the “energy” within all things, and that it is basically very, very good — you know it, and you don’t know why, but it reassures you even if you think that maybe it’s just your irrational mind overturning the rational, doubting half’s decision that won’t let you fall asleep. maybe it’s the after-effect of staring in a sleepless daze out my windows, which were slightly lit by the lamps outside, i thought. still, it glowed, and the glow was a line, a cord, going up through the thumb, then the center, then the whole hand. fluorescent white, and turning slowly, as if half-liquified in a blender.

huh, i thought. ahh, i felt. the ahh overtook the huh, for once, and i lay back and sighed, calm again.

suddently i was tired. this is good, i thought. my mind turned to those who have already gone there: flo, others. there has to be somewhere that flo is, my mind churned; she can’t just have dissolved! a few days after my grandpa died, i had a very vivid dream of him; my mom and uncle saw overhead lights move, doors blew open and closed in the sudden breeze that passed through their houses. years later, we don’t dream or see lights or doors move. so, is it simply that our energy is only potent, a tight swirl of electricity, for a short time after we die and then dissolves to the point of disappearing? is that the point that “memory fades” and we, the living, forget? i hope not. i have never forgotten my grandpa, and i think of him when i get, well, stuck in nights like this. what should i do, i murmur, half to myself, half to him? usually, i feel his presence. but, is it really him? how much of “him” is my memory of him and how much is it my own mind willing itself to believe that he’s here, that it’s him?

i did not let go at the vodou ceremony (which, i’m sorry, i’m only blogging about now and — very poorly i might add — almost a month later!). bad, bad jeanene. i couldn’t. i guess it’s cultural differences, or personal arrogance. but, she’s still here, flo. and so are all the men and women who collapsed under the rubble. i will bring you gifts when i come, and if my thinking of you is what keeps you alive in spirit or what deludes me into thinking that you’re still alive, i don’t care. it’s all the same to a mind that — and this is the only thing i am certain of these days — has a lot yet more to learn.


  1. The soul is memory. I’m convinced of that. Last week I had a first dream of Flo — in Haiti, with me, in a big square room (FOSAJ?). I was squeamish about stepping barefoot onto the filthy floor. Flo scolded me gently: “Silly Ma!” Vivid and present as in life.

    Jeanene, I hope to meet you, there or here. Much to say. Check Julie Dermansky’s blog for new Jacmel photos.


  2. ahh. that brings tears. one, someone gets it; two, someone with infinite/ultimate closeness to flo…has had these experiences. i have little doubt that this is beyond our biological/physiological interpretation of life and death. good. yes, i hope to meet you somewhere, maybe in haiti. will check JD’s blog…merci…

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