Carolina Martinez

Boomerang Chancleta


Carolyn "Carolina" Martínez was born on December 2nd, 1964 in New York, NY to Raúl Martínez, a salsa musician and Graciela Sánchez, a factory worker - both of who were Puerto Rican migrants who arrived in the Great Migration period of the 1950s. Almost immediately, she was placed under the guardianship of her grandmother, Juana Ramos who instilled within her a solid work ethic and a respect for education. Raised in abject poverty in the South Bronx during the turbulent 1960s & 1970s, she found refuge from the dangers of her notorious surroundings by immersing herself in education and literature. 

After spending time in Puerto Rico, she returned to New York City and began a successful career in advertising agencies specializing in the Hispanic market. After the birth of her son in 1991, Carolyn decided to dedicate her professional life to education with the goal of positively impacting the lives of inner-city children the same way her educators had positively impacted her. She graduated from Saint Peter's College in 2002 and since then has served the Hoboken school system in various teaching positions in the Wallace Primary School. In 2014, she published her first children’s’ books, Ladybug and Dragonfly, and Sun and Moon Played by Sol y Luna. 

Carolina currently lives in Guttenberg, NJ and remains staunchly dedicated to the well-being of her students, both past and present.

The slipper flew, twirling in the air, determined to arrive to its target. The toss was coming from the hands of my soft~spoken, small~framed, ladylike “abuelita” awaiting its return.   We named it the Boomerang Chancleta.

My cousin Lisa and I, Carol, were daughters of a brother and sister; we were primas~hermanas. Always together, speaking our jeringonza ~ A Spanish version of pig~Latin. We spent the days after school, and the weekends together, and the small apartment we lived in, was clean and always tidy, like our “abuelita’s” starched ironed dresses, brushed hair, and perfect make-up. This immaculate place where a Lady could receive an audience became our playground.

We saw the cracks on the walls that whispered different stories of poverty and despair. Yet, Lisa and I lived our adventures among these walls. We heard the whispers and announced in loud voices, “we are warriors, we live for adventures!” Lisa was quiet, she was not much of a warrior, her voice was small, unlike her big bushy hair, and big plate eyes. Her mouth was always concealed by her thumb sucking that kept her safe. I, Carol, was the warrior. The storyteller that kept her mind and my mind off the bad things that happened outside of the apartment in the South Bronx.

Well, it was not really Lisa who was the target of the Boomerang Chancleta. It was always I, for if Lisa who was Ms. Goody~two~shoes, ever did something wrong, it was her warrior cousin Carol who would plant herself in front of her, protecting and attempting to conceal that bush of hair. I skinny and tall with straight strands of hair that constantly tickled my face, China girl eyes, and buck teeth would respond bravely to the interrogative “¿Qué pasó?”, with “¡Fui yo!,”,It was me!

And so, even before I finished my confession, as swift as an archer pulling an arrow from her back, the Lady “Abuelita” would bend her knee back and release the slipper that would transform into the Boomerang Chancleta. She would toss it, flick it from her small frail hands that carried and cradled so many babies in her life, and as I pushed and urged Lisa to run for her life, to make it across the two-bedroom apartment jungle into the sanctuary of the bathroom, in slow motion we watched the Chancleta glide through the air in direction of its target, and “plaf” me on my head. As slow motion as it arrived, in fast motion it appeared back on my “abuelitas” hand, she would slip it back on her pretty tiny foot, and there again it would take the identity of the faded pink, soft cottony, once puffy, light as a feather comfy slipper.

Hmmm, there was no fooling us, we knew that it was and would always be the Boomerang Chancleta. We laughed, we laughed until our sides hurt, we laughed, and we laughed until we cried.





© The Acentos Review 2016