Date of Interview: July 8, 2016
Name: Crisely Melecio-Zambrano
Location: Washington, DC
What are you passionate about?
A lot of things. Sometimes I think too many things, but that’s not the case. I’m passionate about people. And loving people with my whole self and a few weeks ago I wrote a mission statement and the basis of it, I don’t remember it word for word, but the basis of it is that I am loved and most importantly by God and that roots me to love others around me, especially the “other-ed” pieces in other people around me. Something that I feel really passionate about, is loving the broken parts of people and allowing that to teach me how to love the broken parts of myself. And that coming from a place of being first loved by God. And experiencing that love through the people around me. And I think out of that comes all my other random passions of like, yeah, music and dance and being outside and being… myself. And helping others be themselves. I think comes from that place of wanting other people to know that they are loved for being who they are.
Do you think that your upbringing impacts that?
Absolutely. I think that that is where I was first loved. It’s where I first experienced being accepted. That shaped me tremendously. I come from an extremely tight knit family. I am one of six kids and I grew up Catholic and continue to call myself Catholic, most of the time. And I love the word Catholic because it means universal and I think that my parents and my family helped me see it that way. Faith has a way of inclusion and a way of seeing goodness. They were the ones who really helped me see that. And they also… My parents are really gifted at teaching me through their actions. Not very much of like… “Here’s this doctrine” even though, it’s funny, my parents are seemingly very different people. My mom is VERY heart centered, and loving and generous and it’s very evident as soon as you meet her. People over and over again tell me “I’ve never met anyone like you’re mom! She’s so open and this angel!” And you know, the way that she shows her faith and her love in God is through that. And she says that herself, that she has always seen God as love and that was it for me. And the other pieces of religion and spirituality helped root her in that. And my dad is someone who, when you first meet him, seems to be more distant and more intellectual. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case, but it seems like that when you first meet him. And he’s also someone who we could go to if we ever had a question about our faith. Especially the teachings of the church. He knew them back and forth and would tell us, “yeah, okay, you have a question about this, look it up, ask it”. It really encouraged us to be curious about what we were experiencing. Or like, “We went to mass today and there was this reading and it made me really upset. Tell me about it! What do you think of this?” I really loved that those conversations were encouraged in my family. They also, it was so much with how they loved people and loved on people. They were so generous. Everything that they had… and first and foremost loved us, so well. They showed us over and over again how important we were to them. I think we’ve grown a lot in that as a family and we continue to learn from those experiences.
What do you feel is a struggle for you?
So many things… Hmm… I think one of the biggest struggles and learnings for me is, and probably this is true for every human being… but of accepting myself. When you said that, I was thinking of external struggles, but I think so much of that comes from, yeah, I think if I’m having trouble accepting someone else it’s probably because it’s striking a cord with something I haven’t accepted in myself so ends up being “RAHHH! This person!” but really it’s like “Ahh, this piece inside me that I can’t wrap my heart or head around!” You know? And I have learned sooooo much about accepting who I am through a lot of ways, I think as a kid, was very much loved and accepted by my family and I think at the same time, I really struggled because I couldn’t see myself in it. I have always been really observant, a really observant kid, always watching everything and trying to take everything in. So I had a really good picture of everyone else, and could never understand my part in that. I knew I was a part of it, but I just couldn’t… And so I, I think because of that, struggled to see my importance. Yeah! I think that was the main part of that. Asking, “Am I a part of this, do I have a role in this? I know I am, but am I actually?” I think that’s a part of being human, sometimes not being able to see yourself.
What do you think of relationships, platonic, romantic, sexual, or otherwise?
What do I think of relationships…? What life IS about. Or what I see life as being about. It’s relational. We don’t make sense isolated, because we’re not. As much as we could feel that, or try to be. We are so connected to everything. Relationship, it’s life! It’s like this breathing thing. I think we see it all over the place. I’ve been thinking a lot about… so I grew up near the ocean and the ocean to me is a heart place, that’s where my soul is happy, and where I understand things the best, I think. I’ve been thinking a lot about how life is so much like that. I mean, the waves are always coming and going. And that’s the seasons there. You know, you see… I like trees too ::laughs:: but when you see the relationship with nature and the way that we as humans connect with each other, I think that so much of that is this learning, and then learning and then relearning that we are connected. And then living out of that, in whatever way we need to and in whatever way that connection is for us… For me it’s such a daily thing, since relationships are constantly ebbing and flowing. Like this person is my friend. This person is my partner. This person is my parent. This person is my cousin. It’s this constant ebb and flow and in daily moments it changes, and in these daily moments and being in the present and saying like, where is it that we are called to be with each other right now? It could be as simple as a smile walking down the street to a stranger, or it might be a conversation together in a bathtub. ::laughs:: And I think that’s hard sometimes because it’s never clear… Or maybe as defined. Like, This Is How You Are Supposed To Act In This Particular Situation. Like, noooo, there’s not a book on that! And even pressures from upbringing or society or expectations… It’s so lived in the moment by moment. Timing, and if we’re open, or if we’re not, or if we can’t be open and figuring out what that comes from. I think relationship is the STUFF. The stuff of life. I think this is also why faith for me is so important. I experience God as a relational God. We are in this together. You are suffering with me, you are rejoicing with me and with my people. Like we’re in THIS. And that’s it.