Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Home Is Where the Bed Is!

I recently returned from a three week vacation from the land of my birth.  It was definitely one of the funnest vacations ever.  [I know it’s not a real word, but I first heard it from the kids, and honestly, it comes in handy when something is beyond fun.]  Most of it was because I was there for a family reunion, and of all the things I love the most, FAMILY is way up there.  Then I got to spend time with former classmates and other girlfriends.  The great thing about having attended an all-girls school is that when we get together, we can let our guards down without any recourse.  Well, nothing much usually stops me from holding back; but being in the company of all women just makes crude jokes even funnier.  I’m just saying.

However, I had to endure questions like these throughout my visit:
Do you miss Antigua?
Do you like where you live?
Would you ever return for good?
The easy or politically correct answers are YES, SURE, YEAH; but it’s me, so the truth is, it’s not that simple.

I miss the beach a lot since I’m a total beach bum; but if I were actually living in Antigua, unless I were a millionaire, there is no way I could afford to be at the beach all day, every day.  I miss Brownie’s bun and cheese, but after three weeks and five pounds, (which are taking twice as long to get rid of) again, there is no way I’d be able to sustain that kind of diet.  It was a blast catching up with family and friends, but alas, were I living in Antigua, it just would not be feasible to hang out with them that often, with kids’ schedules, neglected husbands and just the daily grind. 

Then there are the things that I do NOT miss about Antigua:  the terrible roads, the crazy drivers (yup, we almost got run off the road thrice, twice by the police), and the lack of reliable infrastructure.  No offense my fellow Antiguans, but when I turn my computer on and click on the Internet, I really expect to be connected the same day!  Hyperbole at its worst is just going to make me enemies, but seriously, I’ve never seen Internet soooooo slooooowwwww.

I also do not miss the monolithic points of views, and it doesn’t mean that I’m indoctrinated because I have been living in North America.  It just means that I see things from a different perspective.  Okay fine, you are still in the dark ages, and I’m not; but I still love you! J  And naturally, I’m not talking about everyone that I spoke to, but the homophobia that still exists in Antigua, and the Caribbean at large, is beginning to appear violent adjacent.

Do I like where I live?  I LOVE where I live, and I’m so grateful that I do.  But I’m pretty easy to please, so I’ve always loved my home.  For the first 20 years of my life, I lived in Antigua, and I totally enjoyed it.  For the next 15, I lived in various parts of New York, and trust me, the South Bronx is not as scary as it is depicted in the media.  For the past 10 years, living in the Poconos is like living in Antigua back in the ‘70s, in terms of the scenery and at the same time living in a progressive city, in terms of the conveniences….what’s not to love?

But telling an Antiguan that you enjoy living abroad is a set up for an Antiguan cuss out.  “So, what you saying is that you prefer America than where you were born?”  No, I’m just saying that I’ve made a life there now, and it’s comfortable, so I’m just taking life one day at a time.  “So, you’re too good for Antigua now?”  No, not at all.  “So you never thought about returning?”  Well, it’s not like we can just give up a job and a place to stay and come home on a prayer hope.

So you can imagine how much tact has to be sought with my responses.  In my mind I’m thinking, I’ll return to or retire in Antigua when I’m guaranteed that motorists respect each other, when clear lines are drawn on the roads so that motorists know for sure where their lane ends and mine starts, when motorist just don’t park and exit their cars at the most convenient spot for them, which in turn ends up being almost impossible for me to squeeze through; when motorists see that they are the ones with the obstruction and still don’t speed to pass before me as if I’m not the one with the clear lane; when motorists realize that even though I’m not the one with the right of way, if they all keep going, eventually, no one will be able to move.  And that’s just driving. 

Yeah, I’ll return when I have used the bathroom, put soap on my hands, turn the faucet on, and water actually comes out.  (Yes, I know that Antigua has a really, really bad drought problem; but how long will that excuse last?)  Or when I am getting ready to go out, and I am midway in ironing my outfit, the power comes off.  (Yes, I know that Antigua is a developing country, and these things take time; but how long will that excuse last?)

With 365 beaches, with Antigua being the most progressive Leeward Island, and one of the most in the Caribbean overall, all I’m saying is that we cannot keep complaining about the same problems year after year, decade after decade.  Something has got to be done!  Tourism is our main industry; and the competitive field is WIDE.

But as I look at my fellow Antiguans who have remained and with whom I’d be on par with, I don’t see people who are living in a country with a plethora of inconveniences.  I see people who are on average happy with their lives.  I see people who are succeeding in their fields.  I see people who are living very well.  Just like how we've adjusted to a country where at any given moment, an unarmed Black man child woman civilian can be shot numerous times by a police officer who will later be cleared of any wrongdoing, just like how we’ve adjusted to a country where a corn silk haired billionaire who is as dumb as a rock is leading the polls in the Republican party for president of the most powerful country in the world, I know that were I still living in Antigua, there’d be no place that I’d rather be.

But what I missed most was my bed.  And it wasn’t because I didn’t sleep well.  I slept very well – just not for long.  I was comfortable, and I was relaxed, but after a while, I just missed my crib, you know.  I missed home!  And home is where I get my mail, not where my navel string was buried.  Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you make your home, perspectively speaking, it is the only place where your heart is.