random thoughts on homesickness
Ever since we've returned home from Saint-Martin 2 weeks ago, I've been nursing a moderate case of homesickness; which, at first blush, might seem a bit weird since I'm not from Saint-Martin (although, for whatever reason, Saint-Martin reminded me strongly of Tobago). But it's not the specific island, per se, as much as it is the region. I miss the Caribbean. I miss it a lot.
I'm always afraid to say this out loud, because I think when I say it, people think it's the blue ocean and sandy beaches that I miss. And sure, of course, I miss those. But unlike most tourists to the Caribbean, I'm under no illusions about how difficult actually living on the islands can be. Not only did I grow up in the Caribbean, I went back to live there as an adult in the early 2000s. I get that there can be earthquakes, and drugs, and crime. I understand that getting good health care can be sketchy, at best. I understand that there can be power-outages and water-outages without warning. I know that occasionally there are food items that can become scarce, and it can be weeks or months before you see them in the supermarket again. Bureaucracy is the stuff of your worst nightmares. Trust me, I get it.
But there are things about living in the Caribbean that you just do not get in the United States. Things like:
• How simple life is. When you can't get everything you want at a drop of a hat, you can live more simply. You make do more, and realize that while ease can mean more comfort, it doesn't always. There isn't this pervasive air that more is better. There isn't the frenetic pace that you find in the US, at least in the larger cities. It's the feeling that if you wanted to, you really could stop and take a breath, and no one would judge you for it. Not even you.
• Limin'. Meaning to "hang out," to lime is something we do in Trinidad that I don't really see here in the United States -- actually, now that I think about it, the closest thing I've seen to limin' outside of the Caribbean is in England, probably, in local pub culture. There's a casualness to it that I don't see in the US, not even in coffeehouses. A lime is often impromptu. It can occur at someone's house, or the local rum shop, or if you're lucky enough to live near a beach, on any free patch of sand. It requires little more than some soft drinks and maybe a few Caribs or a good bottle of rum. (Inevitably, food will show up too, though it's always unclear how.) There's never a dress code. There's no purpose, other than to connect. There's no hashtag, or social media purpose. And it's a way of life in Trinidad and the Caribbean that I sorely miss.
• Walking around without ever worrying what assumptions people are making of me because of my hair and skin colour. 'Nuff said.
• The music, art, and cultural scene. Obviously, there is music, art and culture here in the US, but none stirs my soul like the culture of Trinidad, which is hugely inspired by African, East Indian, South Asian and Latino culture in a way that results in something original and uniquely West Indian. And it's also the sensibility and wit you find in the literature, the satire, the everyday jokes on the street. There's just something about it.
I told Marcus after we got back from our holiday, that I'm going to have to figure out a way to return to the Caribbean at least yearly, even if it's just for a long-weekend, even during rainy season. Even better: figure out a way to live there again for a while, even if it's in the early years of our retirement. I need it like an American needs to get back home for Thanksgiving. Because while I enjoy living in the United States, and all the opportunities having been educated and working here and even being a citizen here affords me, my soul misses the Caribbean. In an intense way.
Soundtrack: Trini by Benjai