I remember small details from my childhood in Jamaica, before migrating to the US. I recall a blossomed cherry tree, adorned with ripe fruit, in someone’s yard. I remember the leaves of an almond tree and the raw nuts dangling. Bag juice & jack fruit. Sometimes I wonder if my affinity toward trees and plants are founded in my subconscious’ recollection of home and its tropical climate. And sometimes I wonder what my life would’ve been like, who I would’ve began to become if I hadn’t migrated.
We moved to Brooklyn, NY to live with my dad. My two older sisters went first. My first grade teacher didn’t understand me when I asked her to “plait” my interlocked hair that had come loose. I guess the American term that she knew it to be was braid. My accent was a strong English patois. I used to eat Kraft slices of individually wrapped cheese so much that I earned the nickname “rat”; Addressed with endearment by my sisters, dad and, step-family.
My sisters and I would spend summers with my mother in Florida until we moved there with her. My second eldest sister and I first. I remember how hard it was for me to understand the Floridan accent. A neighbor asked me if I wanted to ride her “bai-ck”. She was referring to her bike. Funny how the tables turned. We moved there around the time when Uncle Luke was dominating the Airwaves and I had no idea what “booty shaking” was. What was this strange music? Now, those rhythms are familiar and my hips move and my back breaks on the down beats.
I think that perhaps those four years, ages 5-9, that I spent in NY were pivotal in my development and sense of belonging. Of the places that I’ve called home since my migration, the hustle and bustle, the buildings scraping the sky have always felt comforting to me. Air and noise pollution, a blanket.
While trying to find my place in society, I’ve begun to develop a stronger sense of self. I fit wherever I am, the ever malleable Pisces, but finding comfort and truly feeling secure has been a battle. Here, many moons later, I’m trying to find a true home. It doesn’t matter as much if it is my place of birth, but must be a place of rebirth. A place where I can dwell in my absolute nakedness. It’s a place where all of who I am requires no validation and is unmoved by critique. My naivete had me seeking refuge from the world in people of the world, which is almost counter-production. Experience has taught me that people are fickle, we are all ever-changing. Solace is this mysterious, inward hug. When I close my eyes, breath deeply, & embrace the silence around me, I can reach out and almost touch my Utopia.
What is home? Where is home? My journey has been arduous and I want to pack my things and go.