It’s been a little over a year when I last stood in line to collect a welfare. I had just traveled 40 minutes to get to downtown Willemstad. I stood 15 minutes in line, looking at and observing the people surrounding me. I felt confused and like I was in the wrong place, “Why am I here?”

Without hesitation I walked away…

I left my money and never contacted them again!

It was October 2015.

lampshade-head-valerie-parisius
Photo by Valerie Parisius

I was receiving 160 guilders ($ 89) every two weeks. As long as I came downtown in Punda, the money was mine. The walk from home to the bus stop, the bumpy travel in an inconvenient public transportation bus and waiting in line costed me half a day every two weeks. Not to mention the discomfort or the pain getting there. And then back home, dragging my feet. In the beginning I wobbled on two crutches. In the end with only one single cane. I enjoyed my trips for they were a sense of freedom, although the freedom was limited to the state of my physical condition yet the endurance was what would get me stronger, and if I got stronger, (I promised myself) I wouldn’t have to go anymore.

As I turned and walked away from the welfare line, fear and insecurities crossed my path and a car that nearly got me. It was just at the exit, before crossing the street. “That’s still 160 guilders you’re leaving behind dude. You can’t afford stupidity!” But once a Pirate’s mind is set, there is no return. And this had to be done. I was stronger. I didn’t notice the car till he hit the brakes and I angrily told myself “Get your own damn car, then you won’t have to deal with all this drama!”

I had told my parents a week earlier that I was considering stop picking up my welfare. My business was official since 3 months. I had just won a prize proclaiming I was a “young aspiring entrepreneur” while selling people’s collected garbage back at them with a little paint and effort. I made it neat and shiny. My face had been on the cover of a magazine, and I was the opening speaker for a Single release and video clip presentation of Levi Silvani’s Superando. I also got myself chained to a tree to create more awareness for animal care while Humans of Willemstad interviewed me and for a week my social media was crazy! I had this! I thought…

“You got this!”

“I’m getting my own car! Can’t have a business without a car.”

 

My mind was on rapid fire in an eerie calm I have felt many times since my accident in 2012.

“I got this!’

A year has passed, I’ve been around Curaçao to Sint Maarten and Aruba. I got my car. I got my business, and it grew. I found fears and I’m scared, I have my insecurities, but… Damn, this feels good! I made friends. I lost money. But, hé! I made it through. I made it better. And I made it even scarier (I need some new boxers…) and the future looks even more promising for I have grown.

tumblr_ofvp5pqgf91qi9bubo1_1280When I doubt, I think of a mother that asked me to make candle holders for her kid’s baptism. A girl visiting from Canada, who told me of the passing of her father. I remember standing between senators of a local organization and hear their laughter. I remember standing on stage telling my story dropping all the weight so this all could start.

 

I remember picking up my cane one particular night:

“This is the point of no return. Pick your cane, and stand with pride.

You are The Pirate now.”

I get goosebumps thinking of the day I picked up the car keys and drove home in the dark. With my eyes filled with tears, driving, seeing the wheelchair I had left in my room. A couple of years earlier, not willing to touch it, it stood next to my bed looking at me, inviting me. I did a TEDx talk I dreamed of while still in the Rehabilitation clinic riding on the hometrainer. There are so many snapshots in my brain of chapters, I could fill a book about a lifetime, but I’m not promising that (yet.)

I do, however, remember I promised I would never stop loving. So I didn’t… Love has brought me here and love will take me further. I have been called many things in my life but only one word stuck when all others shaded. 

I gave when I had nothing, and I received a world full of LOVE.

So you may guess what more is coming… Just catch and release…

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Music of Choice: Matt Simons – Catch & Release (Deepend remix)

 

Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day

And it gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love