Photo: Meet and greet JuliArts Artistic Summer Camp. Photo courtesy of Juliana Ortiz, Lola Montilla

My Star Scar

I started off the week with an invitation from my dance teacher to visit her dance camp and speak to the girls about my story, acceptance and how to overcome challenges in their lives. I usually adjust my speeches according to the audience, in this case, girls that averaged 5-6 years old. I was patient, and willing to answer each of their questions, because they are small and curious – I dig it.

There’s something I love about talking to kids about my story: they aren’t quick to judge and instead of staring and commenting behind your back, they ask you questions and tell you exactly what they’re thinking.  It is my personal experience that if there’s something that “special people” like, it’s for people to approach them and ask questions, rather than have them stare and make up stories that are totally incorrect. So, I let the girls be curious.  They asked me about my scar and shared their stories with me.  They took pictures and touched my scar, which is something I’m usually put-off by. That experience showed me that kids are the most wholesome creatures in the world. They don’t have preconceived notions, they don’t judge and don’t care if you have a flaw or an imperfection. They just ask, openly and honestly, and once their doubts are cleared up, they treasure you, because you’re genuine. We’re off to a good start.

Great week so far, and to end it, I went out partying with the girls to Old San Juan to let loose. Good times right? What could go wrong? Specially because I was feeling pretty amazing (and I was looking real cute that day). Ah, but wait! Soon enough some irrelevant, inhumane, disgusting creature decided to bash my scar. You guessed right! A shallow teenage boy who didn’t know where the line was until he crossed it. He decided to remark and question whether my scar was a “birthmark” (that’s okay) or whether I “dropped ketchup on my chest.” I was pissed off! I would say “angry” but that doesn’t even begin to explain how furious I was. So, I lost my cool and slapped him with some powerful words and a virtual “FU + middle finger emoji.” Not Lola-like nor my proudest moment, but I feel like my message got through.

What gives? Why can’t we be like kids, who ask, who are curious, but don’t have those bad intentions or preconceived notions. We aren’t born prejudiced and judgemental.  When does that switch go off and we grow to be callous and insensitive? Trust me, even the most secure of us, who often stay strong and ignore those rude comments, eventually break down. It hurts.

The optimist in me thinks that maybe these events are a good thing, because they remind me who’s who, and that whoever wants me in their life must love all of me, not just the parts that aren’t scarred or imperfect.  The realist in me knows that these aren’t isolated events and that I’ve lived through this before.  The writer and the poet remembers that, not only did I live through this before, but I wrote about it a year ago in my journal, except today, I am stronger and more confident, and willing to share it with the world.

Lola Montilla Scar Close-up
12 My scar, and star of my week. (Photo: Courtesy of Lola Montilla)

Ojos al Pecho

Es difícil ser como soy.

Es mucho para aceptar, que tienes que vivir con los ojos de extraños pegados al pecho.

Los susurros de la gente cuando te pasan de largo

y las opiniones ignorantes de la gente que crean tu historia al ver tus defectos.

Duele pensar que soy una fotografía,

una obra de arte en las paredes de un museo en quiebra,

un programa en el televisor.

¡No me mires!  ¡Háblame!  Conoce mi historia.  Detente.

Soy más que la película que te haces en tu mente.

Soy un humano, un simple humano con un tirante de rojo que se pinta en mi pecho

y que al parecer enciende la curiosidad de un imbécil que no entiende que los defectos existen.  No, no un defecto.  

Una medalla, un trofeo, una corona y yo soy la ganadora, la luchadora, la reina del castillo que nadie puede resistir mirar.  No soy una fotografía, sino la fotógrafa, la obra de arte andante, una cara, no solo una cicatriz.

No soy un defecto.

No soy el colmo para tu pena.

No soy mi cicatriz.  No lo soy.