“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, a world lives in you.”
– Frederick Buechner (cited in The Shack)
I carry my friends and family everywhere. Although sometimes it seems like my laptap is my best friend and closest confidante, actually, it’s just the main way that I keep in touch with those I call my heart. My heart is the people who love me. It’s the place that nourished my spirit, birthed my dreams, and inspired my adventures. It’s the kindness and acceptance and piss-taking by people who have made my life better in ways they do and do not know. That make me feel human.
Like Sam, who I always call my brave friend. She is also the white person who makes me feel better about being the black late one all the time as she’s usually later. When we were 15 and studying Latin, we had an evening school trip to see Lysistrata at a central London theatre. We were both late, and the group waited as long as they feasibly could (or so they said), before getting on the train without us. Continue reading
Toes in the sand and nose to nose with the horizon line, today I tried to contemplate how I ended up here. When did I become Neo? I saw The Matrix; I was not enthralled with the nebuchadnezzar. I could have chosen the blue pill. Heavy-heartedly maybe, but I would have done it. That porridge three times a day would have driven me mad and I would have been no use to the revolution. So which part of my journey through life determined that I would step off the treadmill, out of the rat race, move a gazillion miles away from my beloved London and set up home in the French Caribbean? Clueless, I retraced my steps. Continue reading
As I’m far from home and much-loved traditions, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Christmas 2012. Although I refused to accept the fallacy that Christmas couldn’t possibly be Christmas without snow (have you seen a map of the world recently?), it still took me a while to get into the spirit of it. A night of enthusiastic chanté nweling which included copious amounts of Christmas ham, followed by a Saturday morning wake-up to a pile of presents and cards all with my name on (thanx peeps!!) got me thinking…
1) Family. I’m from a stereotypically Caribbean family as a Trini friend enlightened me once. I thought she meant in reference to raucously loud get togethers of very loving, proud black people convening for any occasion; Christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings, or funerals. But according to her, it was having more than 20 first cousins. ‘Have them?’ I can name and tell stories about growing up with them!! Continue reading
If you’re a romantic who grew up in a Euro-centric culture, you’ve probably heard the expression ‘into the sunset’ on more than one occasion. To walk, run, ride or drive into the sunset denotes a closing, a happy ending, and hope for the future. More than one film has closed on a sunset, and many more fairy stories. But personally, I never really ‘got’ them. Apart from that iconic moment in Grease 2 when he finally gets the girl and they ride off into the sunset of course…that was classic. I changed somewhat, when at the end of a week spent slaving away at a national park’s snake exhibit in Phuket, Thailand back in the day, a kindly lady offered to take me to Sunset Point. She thought it would be a travesty for me to leave Phuket without seeing it. I was more tempted by the possibility of finally getting out of the park.
What I saw however, blew my mind. There’s a reason why they call it Sunset Point. It’s no doubt the place Jay-Z refers to in ‘Can I get a…’ A decade later I can still see in my mind’s eye the panoramic view of the horizon, the endless sky and the most colourful sunset I’ve ever seen. Continue reading
I can’t honestly explain what makes me want to travel. Where my itchy feet come from I don’t know. I like to think I am part of a great epic of black women moving by force, by choice, but moving nevertheless. I sometimes think it is the Brit in me. Raised as I was at the latter end of the times when it was still okay to idolise the great explorers of the nineteenth century. To think of them as great rather than the imperialist baddies they were.
While the conscious black person in me always knew how morally repugnant it was, the Brit in me imagined myself with that beige hat on head, and cutlass in hand, big grin on my face as I carve out a new route through some hitherto ‘undiscovered’ place obscured by trees. It’s such a familiar recurring image that I smile as I write it.
I’m smiling because I’ve been able to write what I’ve never been able to articulate. The need to see new things, the craving to understand the world. It’s the black person in me, paradoxically, who knows that if I really want to know, I have to ask the people.
and ‘getting left behind’ are supposed to be feelings inculcated in your loved ones by your departure to (hopefully sunnier) climes when you move abroad. You’re off having the adventure of a lifetime and they’re stuck at home doing the same thing they were doing before you left, only with a new wound of your departure, and the salt of the tales of your adventures as you write home. The traditional postcard note ‘wish you were here’ is supposed to denote that you’re having the time of your life and you wish they could be sharing it with you. That’s what you tell yourself when you leave your loved ones behind anywho.
Alas that’s not really how it works. And I just got my first major sting.
When you leave for an extended period of time and are consumed with all the adventures you’ll be having, you can forget that well, life will continue without you. Continue reading