It’s a new season- like when the snow-covered mountains and needle filled trees emerge alive in Spring, and ready to bloom, or when the butterfly finally emerge from its cocoon, ready to sore and take on the world. That’s the season I’m in.
Since I returned from a restful and family-filled two week vacation; my dependent steps have progressed to independent strolls. I stop by vendors now and then to purchase ground provisions. I yell at Taxi drivers to get going. I leave my house at sundown to go to the movie theatres or hang with new friends. Mind you, I’m still in Jamaica. I venture to malls to browse, alone. I scan bookstores, and when I decide on the book I like, I purchase it. I go to conferences and book launches. I spontaneously go grocery shopping and call taxi cabs totake me home. I spend afternoons studying at Hope Gardens, a stone throw from the university. I go hiking on Saturday mornings with friends, it’s our new ritual. Then we drink coconut water purchased from a street vendor on the way back. For months, the cocoon of dependency and priorities stiffled my yearning to explore Jamaica, and the adventure-loving person I am, had been playing it safe. But now, I finally outgrew the cocoon of campus living.
Strolling feels great. I have an awakened understanding of the Jamaican culture, people’s perception, values, and struggles. I am a better judge of people’s character- so taking the street taxis no longer scare me. The trouble with being in a new country is, you can never quite tell what people are thinking of you, how oddly out of place you look, even if you are trying to blend in. Still, I’m getting better at removing that glazed look of confusion and timidity from over my eyes. If I do not wish to take a taxi cab, the next one will come seconds later. I feel that everyone is too busy trying to survive to be caring about me, and so I focus less on them too. Leaving the campus every now and again opens my eyes to the larger Jamaican society. In my interaction with street vendors, I am distant to what they go through- and I often feel guilty that I am underpaying them. Somehow the mingling with locals intertwines me with Jamaica. I feel like we are one and the same. That I am not a tourist, that I never lived in another country.
Related: My Jamaican Charm
Last week, as I was strolling through the botantical gardens I felt a deep inner connection to this land. Feelings of attachment, connection, and a waxing desire to find the cog that I am suppose to fill in this society. I can’t help but feel a strong urge to wrap my arms around the island and squeeze Jamaica; the land I have loved, and have always loved. When that day comes to soar, I am certain I will be strong and confident to do it alone.