Approximately a year ago today, I left London in a hurry. Not out of choice, that’s just the way things go sometimes. There was an exciting new job waiting for me and a 4 week notice period in the old one. Compared with previous international departures of months (as in 4 or 12!) of advance notice, just under four weeks was kinda fast. There were a lot of goodbyes. No shortage of tears. Sometimes the result of lovely things said. There were no regrets. This adventure called Life had spoken quite definitively, it was time to rock and roll onto pastures new. My longstanding undimmed passionate love affair with the Caribbean had yielded a new fruit: emigration. Continue reading
“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
My sister doesn’t get my blog. She reckons there’s a big difference between ‘my new life in the sun’ as she calls it and our granny’s graduation to the cold 55 years ago. I beg to differ. In the spirit of the new year, I thought I’d better get onto explaining the similarities, so this post is all about my granny’s experiences of moving when black.
After having conducted an impromptu interview with my grandmother about her experiences of moving to England in the late 1950s I confess to being wracked with doubt about the wisdom of it. I thought interspersing my thoughts and feelings with hers would be a bit more interesting than just another here’s-me-doing-cool-stuff type travel blog (though you can see a bit of that here). And I kinda wanted it to be an homage to those who’ve done much tougher stuff before me as I take comfort in knowing that if my granny could move continents 55 years earlier without a laptop, smartphone, emails and skype, then I can definitely emigrate with so many 21st century communication modcons to keep me in touch with my loved ones.
Now, however, I’m not so sure about that idea. I’ve badgered my grandmother for years about ‘telling her story’. She has never shown the slightest bit of interest in sharing it, but every time I see her (which is not that often because I’m usually located in London and she’s lived in Barbados since I was 5), I find a way to bring it up. 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.