Our home, 2022. Photo by Alex Matzke.
A year ago my dad stole $50,000 from Alex and I, essentially every penny we’d ever saved. By his telling, he was trying to help us. By mine, it was the latest and most unbelievable chapter in his gambling addiction. Game of choice: stock market. Bet of choice: Tesla. He lost everything in a matter of days and has refused to so much as talk to me about it since. The silence I learned from him throughout my life has been a recurrent and destructive theme for me in personal relationships. While losing our entire bank account was devastating, it was not even the worst thing that has happened since moving here. Here’s an attempt to translate the speechlessness of the last two years into words.
We can easily mark the time that we left the states; we were on our way to the airport when we first heard about the capitol insurrection. Talk about a time to get the fuck out. We moved here at the suggestion of a group of friends, all farmers, who we’d repeatedly come and supported since 2016, shortly after Puerto Rico faced bankruptcy. We spent years working with them, living with them, talking liberation and revolution, plotting how the meek will inherent the earth. We’d been invited into their family and told we had a place to stay for as long as we needed. Until we arrived. Then the offer changed to ‘pay us rent, disregard your own needs, and work for us for free’. Turns out the entire farmer friend group had imploded the summer prior, yet no one bothered to tell us. Accountability is rare these days, so I’ll give an example: if you’ve ever supported a donation drive I led, bought a shirt I sold as a fundraiser, or volunteered for any group I’ve vouched for, in Richmond or in Puerto Rico, unfortunately you were duped. So were we. We gave years of our lives, sleepless nights, emptied bank accounts, risked injury and arrest, and ultimately entrusted everything we had in the hands of con artists