Monday, June 11, 2007

Goodbye, 1315 Cherry St.

There is something about the floors and the angles and the make up of walls that entangle you with familiarity and allow you to realize where you come from. Today marked what would probably be the last time I'd set foot in that space. I remember the first workshop I took at the AAI; the floors were still green, we pulled cushions from the couch, and sat in a circle. This was an introduction. Gary led the Something to Say workshop. I was 19.

After the Edge of the World show, I shared a balloon with John. We tied our wishes to the ends of the string, then let them fly out the window. I just thanked the space for the life it has allowed me to have. Not that the organization is dying. It is just moving. I reminded myself of this while I cried. Yes. The ugly cry. I remember Hazelnut, not that I ever took care of her, who is now in Chon's mother's care. I remember Lori's moving to California tag sale. I remember Lena's tshirts. I remember my newsletter shoutout. I remember how hilarious my collaborations with Behkyon were. I remember a corner desk. I remember 101project hugging after our first COMPLETE show. I remember green floors. greeeeen flooors. GREEEN FLOORS.

Tonight, Karimi djed via macbook and it was the first time I danced in that space. People drew on the walls and painted on the floors. I saw the distance in relationships with old friends, and the reassurance of friendship and faith in others. Kylene and I danced to some dancehall (because that is what girls from Jersey City do) and glistening with the sticky-sweat, we followed the ritual migration to a Chinatown dinner. From the ground floor, I saw the lights turned off. I imagined the beep of the security system. I turned around and knew that the burnt siennas and blues used to create the mural from the youth program were left untouched, waiting to crumble from the wrecking ball's kiss.

Together, we still have these places.

The Asian Arts Initiative is a large reason why I have all of this. It is how I met all of you. To show that I am grateful, I can only commit myself to the best of my ability to this community and to my artistic work.

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Quick Bio

Hanalei Ramos is a very nice person and a stereotypical aquarius. FACT: while it is a common misconception that “aquarius, the water bearer” is a water sign, it is not. It is actually an air sign! Other than that, she is a proud founding member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a mass-based organization for Filipinas in the NYC area. Hanalei has also toured around the country as a performer and is the author of Foiled Stars, Letters to Martha, and the one-woman show, Guns and Tampons: A History of Violence Against Women I Know. Hanalei currently lives and works in her native Jersey City, NJ. For more information about her, please visit

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