I left my Jamaican home a couple weeks ago with big plans for my time in the 33rd parallel (i.e., San Diego, CA). I arrived energized and with a to do list 3700 miles long in tow. It is ridiculous and occasionally humorous how much easier it is to do bizness and handle red tape details stateside. So I always look forward to coming to the land of milk and honey, where the grass is greener, etc.
What I inevitably discover, time and time again, is that I’ve adapted to life on the rock in more ways than I imagined. Jamaica, just so happens to be, one of most impoverished nations in the western hemisphere. Which makes all resources related to survival, (i.e., food, water, electricity, etc..) extremely expensive and valuable commodities. For the most part, the color, landscape, culture, golden sunlight, and irie vibes make up for the occasional bouts of no water, electricity, no money at the atm machines, etc. So it go.
My experience on the 33rd parallel is always quite the opposite. Things like money, electricity, food and water appear abundant and are certainly easier to come by in the land of the free and the brave. Which is why I felt so completely confused when the electricity disappeared in the blink of an eye Sunday night. I was certainly out of my element and challenged to find things like candles, matches, the phone number for the light company, and my right shoe.
At home, in Jamaica we are so set up to cope with these little glitches. Even when we don’t have current, water, access to the money in our bank account/s we manage. We manage well. Yet when faced with similar circumstances in the lap of luxury, I am ill-equipped and indeed can barely function in the dark. Give thanks to my ever helpful Ma, I was eventually able to find my right shoe. And after 45 minutes of looking in the dark (is this an oxymoron?) we headed out for dinner and a movie. Give thanks for theaters, not a frequent phenomenon on the rock.
In Jamaica we light the hurricane lamps and make dinner at home (give thanks for the gas stove instead of electric). We tell each other stories and don’t have to leave the house to find comfort. Sometimes we have to bathe out of a bucket. Which by candle light is surprisingly relaxing and refreshing. And I can always find my shoes, yep, left and right.
I sometimes day dream about what it will be like when my family comes to the states for an extended stay. I envision all that we will have and achieve financially and educationally. I am happy when I think of my children at museums and taking classes to enrich their minds and spirits, social connections and hunger for learning. I imagine us comfortable and with abundant access to resource of so many kinds. Empowered and shining.
Yet when I come to the states, I find that so many of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances long for a taste of the unique flava that we experience daily, long to savor life on the rock. It is a blessing to connect with community and abundance here in the 33rd parallel. I love the plentiful food options and entertainment choices, the smooth roads, the effortless banking, the ease and convenience of life in general. But it’s never long before I am craving ackee, mango, more sunshine, the riddim, and melodious tones of patois (Jamaican speak), sound systems (the pulse of the island), fresh rainwater and the quiet year round breeze in our simple but beautiful Jamaican habitat.
As it turns out there’s rarely a greener side. And most of the time it’s not really greener so much as it is pea, chartreuse, forest or lime. Once you cross over to abundance and look back over the fence, your old yard (life) will inevitably look greener, happier, better, etc. The challenge is to make the best out of every little gift and obstacle we receive. Sometimes you do have to leave where you are to re-discover what you have. To remember who you be. To remember to love what you have. Where you are. Even in the dark…
One Love, walk good, found my shoes… 🙂