¿Saúl, A dónde vas?

“Me encontraba en México, exhausto y deshidratado tratando de regresar a casa. Luego de una larga espera la troca en la que me transportaba empezó a avanzar a 10, luego a 20 kilómetros por hora. El cansancio y la falta de fluidos hacían que todo se moviera como entre una densa neblina. En mi ensueño divisé una niña corriendo a la velocidad de una súper heroína, luego dio un salto de canguro para aterrizar dentro de la camioneta.
“¿Cómo te llamas?” Me pregunta la niña en mi alucinación.
“Saúl.” Ella ríe con una risa incontenible.
“¿Saúl, a dónde vas?”
“¿Qué?” (¿¡Ay, Dios mío, esta niña es real!?)
“¿Saúl, a dónde vas?”
“A los Estados Unidos.” Ella continúa con su risa de eco.
“¿Tú conoces a María Juanita?”
“No.” (Debe haber como 100.000 María Juanitas en los Estados Unidos)
“María Juanita es mi mamá. Ella se fue a los Estados Unidos hace 10 años. Cuando la veas dile que la extraño y la quiero mucho.”…”

La historia la escuché en el Museo Mint de Charlotte, en un evento de artistas donde los sentidos se agudizan y las palabras e imágenes quedan grabadas como tatuajes.
Pensé en Saúl… y en la niña. Y como en todas las historias y películas el personaje (la niña) me poseyó durante los minutos en que Saúl contaminó nuestro aire de nostalgias. Cuando su historia alcanzó el punto final, la niña me soltó, y me hizo sentir como una huérfana por tercera vez.

Los viajeros que pasaban por Bogotá, puentes accidentales entre mi madre y yo. ¿Usted a dónde va? ¿A España? ¿Conoce a Luz? Luz es mi mamá. Ella se fue a España hace 10 años. Cuando la vea dígale que…

Ella y yo usábamos viajeros como un teléfono roto. Cada una llenó su casa de recuerdos de mi madre en España… recuerdos de mi hija en Colombia. Cada una creó un altar para venerar a la otra y presumir de un amor que nos unía desde el cordón umbilical.

La primera vez que quedé huérfana fue cuando ella en su delirio juvenil se fue al paraíso, a las Islas Canarias, y mi hermano y yo nos quedamos en el purgatorio, a la espera de oraciones y buenas obras que nos dieran el tiquete de salida.

Esa primera vez mi corazón dejó de latir, mi mirada la buscaba entre el asfalto, el polvo de la calle y la risa de otras mujeres. Entré en un estado hipnótico que me forzaba a hacerme daño para sentirme viva o que tenía valor para alguien. En ese tiempo comenzaron el sonambulismo y los cambios de identidad.

Sus cartas, largas como la línea de la vida, sus casetes de bossa nova, Charles Aznavour y Édith Piaf consolaban las noches de las que no deseaba despertar. Pasaron diez años y la niña no creció. Sus pechos y sus nalgas le decían al mundo que era una mujer, pero en su mundo, en su pequeño mundo, ella seguía siendo la misma niña cuya imagen quedó reflejada en el ventanal del Aeropuerto El Dorado donde una vez profirió un adiós mudo y conforme.

¿Usted a dónde va? ¿A España? Cuando vea a Luz dígale que la vida no es justa pero ella la hizo más injusta con su partida. No sé cómo comportarme. No sé qué ropa ponerme. Y sé que soy inteligente pero en estos días ni siquiera recuerdo la respuesta de 2÷1 porque invierto los números. Eso. Eso soy desde que ella se fue… La mitad de una persona.

La segunda vez que quedé huérfana me enteré por un correo electrónico. “Asunto: Urgente, muerte de su mamá.” Los tiempos modernos nos han quitado vestigios de humanidad. Las parejas se comunican con mensajes de texto, los jefes despiden a sus empleados en un e-mail. Nadie quiere enfrentar a nadie. Pero mi mamá y yo merecíamos más que eso. Una voz en el teléfono que me sostuviera mientras yo me desboronaba; una conversación por Skype que me detuviera antes de zambullirme en el pozo de miseria del que a veces salgo para tomar una bocanada de aire y seguir… tratar de seguir.

Ahora hasta hablo con los muertos, como la mamá de Julieta y el primo de Samuel. ¿Usted a dónde va? Luz es mi mamá y se fue al cielo hace cuatro años. Cuando la vea dígale que la perdoné porque era necesario que el curso “normal” de la vida continuara en mí. Cuéntele que por fin soy una mujer y que sigo escribiendo poemas para ella. Dígale que aun no entiendo la vida y que su muerte me ha dejado un agujero en el pecho que cubro con mi bufanda, que he desarrollado una patología en el corazón porque de tanto pensar en ella se le olvida andar, que sufro de narcolepsia porque al menos en los sueños se me concede el privilegio de abrazarla.
Luz es mi mamá y se fue al cielo hace cuatro años. Usted la va a reconocer enseguida porque ella es pura luz como su nombre. Cuando la vea dígale que…

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Where Is Your Other Half?

People Are Always Trying to Pair You Up

It amazes me how people are always trying to pair you up with another human being. We are born alone, unique, except for the 2% of twins, .08% of triplets, and other multiple births; but even if people are born a twin or a triplet they sustain themselves and are responsible for their own growth, education, health, etc.

Bern on the trainSpeaking of our own individualities and commonalities we have the right to be friends with people of the opposite sex as much as we have friends of our own gender. I particularly prefer the friendship of males over the one of females. Nothing personal, I simply find their insight, emotional, and physical strength more appealing. They are gentle but firm, and they are better at solving conflict. Ladies, if you are still reading this, you know it’s true. Sometimes our girlfriends bring a lot of unnecessary drama for things that could have been resolved with a couple of words and a glass of wine (or a word and a couple of glasses of wine? ☺).

Where Is Your Other Half?

I have been seeing a guy, a friend-guy, a new male friend and he has already been called “husband”, “boyfriend”, and  “new guy” by friends and acquaintances! One day I came to the gym by myself, which I used to do anyway before I met Dwight (not his real name) and my instructor greeted me by asking, “Where is your other half?” I responded immediately, “I don’t have another half, I am complete!”

And even if I got married I would still be complete, my own self. I know that it is difficult for many single women to navigate the waves of the daily life alone, you wonder when “your other half” will come to complete your half self, you cry behind a bag of popcorn while watching a romantic comedy, or you secretly resent your girlfriends when they meet someone and things seem to be going really well for them. But your life can be full too! Every day is a new challenge, a new light, a new creation, a new poem, a new performance, a new class, a new song, a new idea for a blog…

Also someone asked me if Dwight made me happy. I hesitated because the answer is yes! Dwight makes me happy, but poetry, Zumba, and yoga make me happy too! There’s no reason to give another person the attribute or the responsibility of making you happy or sad.

a glass of wineThe One Will Come When You Are Not Looking For Him

At church we were studying the book Love, Sex, and Relationships, by Chip Ingram, and the one thing that I learned is that the one will come when you are not looking for him, when you feel absolutely comfortable and content with your circumstances, when you are not hoping for someone to come to rescue you, when you are glad to wake up even though your life is not perfect and you kind of hate your job (not me! ☺). But you have learned to live with the person who matters most in all this, you really know her, you look at her face in the mirror, you are proud of the shape of her body, her wrinkles, and her few gray hairs (when she still can pluck them ☺ ). When she finds that little dress that makes her feel amazing, she goes to that fancy restaurant and the hostess asks if it is just one, she answers proudly, it’s not just one, it’s me.

Love Attracts Love And Misery Loves Company

If you love yourself greatly you will pour out that love into others and into what you do. Discover your passion and love it! Do you like poetry? Read and write like a lunatic! Do you like dancing? Dance like no one is watching! I just remembered Dwight, this guy has a very particular singing voice. Have you watched the winners of American Idol? Think of Dwight as the complete opposite. But he sings, in solitude, he loves to listen to music, he talks about it, and he uses it to calm me down before my performances ☺

On the other hand, I have stopped (or partially stopped) talking to friends who criticize everything I do or wear. And they think they are “helping.” To give you a real life example, once I was talking to a girlfriend about plastic surgeries, so I jokingly asked her if she thought I needed one. What came out of her mouth was, Yeah, you have small breasts, if you could it would be good to get them done, maybe a couple sizes bigger, your smile is too wide, there is a cosmetic surgery to stick the upper lip to the upper gum; by the way, your jaw is kind of narrow, you need to get a cosmetic dental treatment to open space; oh, and you would need lipo for that little tummy (at this point I’m looking at her puzzled), or maybe you won’t need a lipo, just coolsculpting (she says the last part with a big smile to make me feel better)!

Warrior 2 Kurma firstUse Your Imagination

Be creative! You don’t have to become a great artist, just add some color to your life, to your wardrobe, do something nice for yourself, salute the world with a smile even if they decide to give you their back. And try something new to keep your mind engaged!

Talk to God. He is the best listener guy-friend you can have. He will remind you of how precious you are You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you (Song of Solomon 4:7). Hmm… I’m blushing ☺

Life is beautiful, and it’s not a cliché, it’s the truth! Look at all the possibilities without paying too much attention to your past (though this might come in handy), to your age (it’s never too late), or your circumstances (when there’s a will there’s a way.)

Trust in God and His promises and trust that He has given you everything you need to be happy and complete. Everything else and everybody else (including the one) will come to complement you (not complete you) in the most perfect way.

Think positive! You are love! ♥

LET THERE BE LUZ

When I was a child, I was kissed by Muhammad Ali. In 1977 or 78 my mother was invited to a reception for the boxer at the Hilton Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia. He spotted me in the crowd, sat me on his lap, and kissed me as if I was his own daughter. My mother told me, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”

Living with my mother was like Christmas. There was always a surprise under the tree. I never called her “mother”, but I called her by her nickname, Mapy. And later on, just by her first name, Luz (which means light in Spanish). Just like that, she would lighten up every space by her presence, and her laugh filled everything like dew drops over red roses. luz flower dress

I wasn’t her daughter but her friend, so in this unconventional life of hers, her playful character, always seeking for new experiences, and love, I learned to follow my dreams and find joy in everything, following her name as well, Luz, which manifested in me in every way. So when I was 16, this “free spirit” left with a Spanish man to follow her dreams, and I stayed to live mine…

I studied hard, worked hard, and fought for the opportunity to come here. To find my life and destiny in the United States. I was chosen, packed my life in two bags, and was born again! I came through an exchange program, and during my last year I met a gorgeous, loving, compassionate, generous man, who became my husband after a few months of courtship. The most beautiful future was awaiting, but… two years later at 2 in the morning, I was driving and crying trying to hold myself up. My marriage had turned from love to… ABUSE. My husband had kicked me out of our home. I was trying to think what to do, where to go, where I was going to sleep! I was devastated; yet I had to focus on the next step… Where was the light? Luz!? As tears ran down my face, I started to pray, “Dios mío, please, don’t leave me.”

With less than $200 in my pocket and all my belongings in my car I started the hardest journey I ever imagined. My car became my home. I asked friends to stay in their couch a day here, another there, maybe a week here and another there. Still homeless, I was hired to teach math at a high school, and ESL (English as a Second Language) at a community college in the evenings.

God was good to me. He kept His promises of making me prosper and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). With my first salary I rented a room in a house; then moved to a single bedroom apartment where I still live, and write, and dance, and call light to my every piece of being.

The desire of writing reawakened, and I have been called to do several poetry readings. My poems have been published in the Latino newspapers (with two books released last year) and people have started recognizing me in the streets as “the poet.”

muhammad ali- kurma photos combined

Muhammad Ali photo by Benyupp on Flickr Kurma Murrain photo by Glenn DeRosa

I’m in a peaceful place where light surrounds me as the words of my Luz pound in my heart, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”

-In memory of Luz Amalfi Castillo Gamboa (Colombia 1950 – Spain 2012) ♥

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A DROP OF THANKFULNESS, PLEASE

I attend Central Church of God in Charlotte, NC. A couple of weeks ago Pastor Loran Livingston spoke about Romans 13 and his sermon kept lingering in my mind. I bought the CD and have been listening to it in my car almost every day. Among the topics covered by him was thankfulness. And miraculously he ended the sermon with Psalm 121, the chapter God spoke to me the day of my salvation!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;indeed, he who watches over Israel    will neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (NIV)

ESL Classes

My children ♥

I teach high school ESL (English as a Second Language) to teenagers from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Vietnam. Some of them are refugees; some others came with the sea of children from Central America whose parents sent to escape violence. Another group is here because their parents came looking to better their lives and their children’s. God spoke to me again by putting in my heart to talk about thankfulness with my students. Among many other things, my students are thankful for:

New words, music, one more day of life, family, friends, my dog, my sister, coming to this country, being able to go to school, technology, God, the shoes, my teacher…

They also wrote, “Some people don’t have food to eat, but thank to God and my parents I have enough food.” “I’m thankful that I can come to school to study because I want to be better tomorrow and never go back.” “I’m thankful because all these things [girlfriend, Kurt Cobain, my friends, my parents…] make my life happy and I feel complete.”

This “simple” task however presented itself difficult for some of them who couldn’t think about anything to be thankful for. I wonder if they really have nothing to appreciate or if their lives have been so hard they are still in survival mode.

In any case, life has its ways to interconnect us. We are part of this ginormous web in which if one suffers all of us feel affected. I didn’t come to the United States as a refugee… I was unaware of the meaning of that word until I was an adult. I just suffered in silence for if I asked for help I was afraid of punishment or rejection.

Boomer

My best friend says that Boomer is now a vegetarian. LOL ☺

It is all in the past now. I grew up strong and somewhat wise. Like these minds I teach every day I am thankful for God, who makes all things possible. The food, my clothes, Zumba classes, friends… oh boy, what would I do without my friends, my spiritual parents (I even called them Mom and Dad ☺ ), my apartment, my car, my job, my students, my dog…

People are beautiful, even with all their nuances. God created us with a heart to love and be loved. Looking at my students’ papers I remember my dreams about America and how America came to our lives to feed us with hope… which always could be found behind that line in the horizon.

AMERICA SEEN BY A GIRL

By Kurma Murrain

America touched everything with her white stars and red stripes

My childhood woke up to the music with unrecognizable words that spiced the heart to make us forget our stomachs were empty

America, with her golden roads and running hot water

Yellow flowers turning to salute God, magic houses where each person had their own room and a bed with linens

America, with her missionaries talking about a man who died to save the world

How could somebody die to save us?

How could somebody die and save… me?

America, her fire was the one that killed Pablo* and stopped the car-bombs taking with him the constant panic, the interrupted dreams

America, her embrace came at night and left in the morning leaving a sweet smell of roses in the air

America, with her coca-cola to quench the thirst, paper-mate® pens to write in our new notebooks, only if we had a neat handwriting

America and her Levi’s that were hand-me-downs from my brother

Because nothing was new for this little girl, except her old hope, and a heart of ice cream, gummy bears, and pain.

*Pablo Escobar; famous leader of the Colombian drug cartel during the 80's and 90's.

 

 

Are your dreams actually YOUR dreams? Part III

I had been chosen by an international program, at the same time I had found the man of my dreams (the universe was finally working on my favor on that one!), but the fake sense of happiness and completeness almost became my worst enemy.

I was heading for the home stretch. But this wasn’t exactly the easiest part. We had about 4 months to get hired by an American school. In other words, the schools would receive our resumes, including our videos, and they would interview us by phone. Then it was a matter of if they liked us or not.

Some American schools contacted my friends. They told me how stressful their interviews went. If they lost signal, they simply missed the question. The most nerve-racking moments were when the communication started to break; that made them look as if they didn’t understand English. Then they received e-mails that weren’t too encouraging, “Thank you for your time but…”, “Your resume is outstanding but…”, “We are looking for someone more experienced…”

However, there were also positive outcomes which my friends celebrated making big announcements. “I’m going to a school in SC!” “I’ll be moving to Utah!” “I’m going to work in NC!” I was happy for them, though I was crumbling inside for no school had contacted me… On the other hand, Salvatore made me so intoxicated that at times I consigned all my goals and efforts to oblivion.

My infatuation clouded my mind. I had forgotten to check my e-mails for several days. One day I rushed to an internet café and found several e-mails from the VIF. They had tried to reach me for about a week. One school in Charlotte, NC wanted me to join their staff. There was no need for a phone interview for they had loved my resume, especially my video. “You have to be in Charlotte in two weeks.”

My heart sank. All I had worked for had finally materialized, but I was in love!

That night I communicated Salvatore that the VIF was going to fly me to Charlotte pretty soon. His reaction confused me. He laughed. He congratulated me. In the end he told me that his best friends (Andrew and Cara Kay) lived there! That’s why he felt excited! We went out for drinks. During our conversation he paused to suggest to email them. Maybe they could put me up for a few days. Somehow I was catapulted from my love fantasy to my reality.

Andrew and Cara 1

Andrew and Cara Kay in their residence in NY.

When I contacted Andrew and Cara, I only wanted to stay somewhere for a couple of weeks while I adjusted to my new life (school, transportation, housing…) What I didn’t know was that this couple were the instrument for me to hear God’s voice. Literally! I, feeling that I was so free and “evolved” when I actually knew nothing. Longing for the boyfriend that I left in Bogotá while being showered by unconditional love and care at the Kays’ home. It was through them that I started to comprehend what real love really looks like. I had been believing that the million times I had felt infatuated was because I was experiencing love… Nothing farther from the truth. Andrew and Cara offered me their home without knowing who I was, they sang to me, showed genuine interest about my story, drove me to school and back for about 2 months, gave me much needed driving lessons ☺, came with me when it was time to purchase a vehicle, helped me moved when I found a place, and stayed in touch with me throughout the years, even though they now live in NY.

My salvation came on a Sunday morning the summer of 2004, During a service they invited me to attend I started to cry, and for reasons unknown to me Cara was crying too, we hugged, then Andrew hugged us both. I’m pretty sure there was a halo of light around us. At the end of the service Cara took me to a small room inside the church to pray the Salvation Prayer. I never believed what other friends who were saved had told me, that salvation was like night and day, until I experienced it myself.

The same day Andrew and Cara took me to a Christian bookstore to buy the Bible and 2 other books. That night, in the comfort of my bed, God asked me to put my socks on (I can’t sleep if my feet are cold), but I responded my feet didn’t feel so bad. I heard Him again, and even though I knew I wasn’t crazy I started to laugh at the whole scene. I got out of bed and looking at the ceiling I said, “Ok, ok, I’m going to put my socks on.” Then I heard, “You haven’t opened my books.” What?? It was past 10 pm and I had to work early the next day! “Open your Bible.” I was shaking my head, thinking maybe I had gone nuts. I started to unwrap the Bible, looked up again and asked, “Now what?” He told me “Go to Psalm 121.” Oh no, this was going too far. I took it as a challenge since I “knew” the book of Psalms could not possibly have so many chapters. I was going to show Him that all this was a joke and I would go to bed at once. But I found it. I lift up my eyes to the mountains / where does my help come from? / my help comes from the Lord / Maker of heaven and earth. Before the last word of this verses my eyes were burning, and my tears started to wet the page.

He will not let your foot slip / he who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you / the Lord is your shade at your right hand;  the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm / he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going / both now and forevermore.

The Creator of all creation gave me a Psalm the day of my rebirth. It was all part of His plan. God – Bogotá – Salvatore – the VIF – Andrew and Cara – God. This was always His dream. Praise and glory to Him! ♥

Are your dreams actually YOUR dreams? Part II

The wish of living in the United States occupied my thoughts, day and night.This was my position. Either I applied for a driver’s license and waited for two years to be able to be considered as a VIF (Visiting International Faculty) candidate, or I forgot about my plans and conform to a life of regret for not trying.

I called the VIF again to tell them about my intention to obtain a driver’s license. I also asked them to keep me updated about their seminars, program requirements, and American schools.

NY 2004-2005

New York Dec 2004 – Jan 2005

In the meantime I took driving lessons, obtained my driver’s license, which I notified of to the VIF immediately, and continued working at an elementary school, an English institute and a couple of universities. When the 2-year period came near I filled out my application hoping that this long wait would bring the expected results. Once I filled out my application I promised myself not to allow any distractions, which in Kurma’s terms simply meant that I wasn’t going to date or get attached to anybody. I was determined to succeed.

Well, you know what they say, “When you make plans, God laughs.”

The process demanded time, preparation, tests, interviews, seminars, the making of a video… I was exhausted from working my various jobs, trying to stay fit, and focusing on the selection.

They finally announced the group of teachers who were going to travel that year. I was ecstatic! I had made it!

Still in jubilee mode, a Colombian friend who at the time was living in Italy emailed me about her Italian friend. Salvatore was an actor/model who had just arrived in Bogotá and needed somebody to show him around. Trying not to be rude, I responded that I was too busy with work, and especially with the VIF. She insisted, I caved in, not without clarifying that I would only dedicate him a couple of hours, that was it.

I called him and we agree on meeting 45 minutes later at a shopping center near home. Little did I know that we would become inseparable almost instantly. By the following week he had practically moved in with me, though he still had some belongings at his previous dwelling. It was like the movies. Love at first sight. Incredible chemistry. Burning passion. He sang. He cooked. We danced.

Dating Salvatore made me reconsider my dreams. I would have traded everything for true love…