AN IMMIGRANT YEARNS FOR HOME
By Susan Andrea Warmington
Friday, November 28, 2008.
I am encouraged today: America has a talented young visionary as President elect, and these are exciting times with the whole world looking forward to a fresh start. Here, in the United States, I already feel as if White Americans are really seeing me for the first time. It’s as if suddenly I have become visible. And to watch the reactions of other people of color since election night, I can see that they feel the same way.
In the past few weeks leading up to the election, my time has been busy with various job obligations along with the usual day to day ripping and running. In these hard economic times, it is necessary for me to juggle a community project here, teach a Special Education class there, and do a corporate Voiceover over yonder, all to help keep bread on the table.
It is specifically now that I have to be careful that my dreams of returning to Jamaica do not slip and get buried under an avalanche of activities and stress. My hope to go back home has been waylaid before exactly in this manner, so I continue to beef up my determination by reacquainting myself with old friends from Jamaica, and seeking out other natives who are also planning to go home.
I am not just dealing with my own distractions. My Sweetheart is swamped with work and school obligations himself, and has now taken a shine to watching videos of Turks and Caicos and St Lucia on YouTube. Now, those islands are lovely with wonderful people, but I am really trying to get back to Jamaica. I have a feeling though that in the near future I will have to write out a convincing pros and cons list showing Kingston’s advantages over Providenciales.
As the world stands now, it is my opinion that wherever you choose to live there will be serious challenges. There is no land of Utopia. I don’t believe there ever was. It is really up to the individual to match their strengths and weaknesses with the land where they wish to put down roots.
It was so moving to hear so many of my African American brothers and sisters speak of their feelings, that for the first time in their lives they felt like they belonged in America, like they were citizens for the first time after the Obama win. How horrible to feel that way when you are born and grown here, and your family has lived here for generations! Much less poor mi gyal!
As an Immigrant I have always felt out of place. My weakness is that I dislike feeling like an Immigrant. I never knew, and was never prepared to know that I would feel like this for all the time I have lived in America. I tried my hardest to fit in. I made American friends. I did traditional American things. Yet, much to my heartache, I have always felt a little bit like an unwelcome guest here.
My strength lies in Jamaica with my extended Jamaican family and friends. They are like a tonic to me. It is easier to bolster up one’s self during hard times when your fellow Jamaicans extend a helping hand, and you know you can count on the genuineness of the offer. The physical terrain of Jamaica, the seaside, the smell of ocean air is like medicine to me. A drink of fresh coconut water blended with the smile of the gentleman who just chopped the shell open for me is like a healing elixir. I realize that I am not quite whole without these things.
I know that the whole world is a busier, rougher, more polluted, more hostile place, and that Jamaica is no exception. There is no place on the globe that one can escape to and run away from it all, no matter how attractive a travel guide makes a place look. So I am convinced that it is only when you look at your choices with your heart that your vision becomes clear enough to guide you home. And for me, home is where the heart is.
Susan Andrea Warmington is a writer, she blogs at Moving Back to Jamaica.
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