so i’m currently in new england, in a state that has a “1.0 % black” population [according to the U.S. census bureau] as well as according to my eyes, or as far as my eyes can see. and surprise, surprise — i run into a west-indian. from st. kitts! a real one! with an accent and everything! i was like, so floored. a caribbean person? here? who would have guessed. people who measure levels of authenticity [no one does that, right…] will be pleased to know that i pointed her in the right direction of where to find up to date soca online to download [legally and otherwise] to tune in live, as well as where to randomly listen to soca playlists. the poor girl was out of the proverbial soca/all and anything west-indian loop for quite a while.
i felt so bad for her that i wanted to hug her because i couldn’t imagine settling in a place where i was so far removed culturally from my culture or access to it. sure, you can go online but you still need to know where to go and you still have to possess a connected-to-culture impetus with which to do so. but then again, that is just me, projecting my rendering on what i interpret — that is not necessarily hers nor what she must be feeling. i cannot claim to speak for everyone’s experience but i do know that that is how i would feel. anyway she ended up here, by way of boston [which makes slightly more sense] and she goes to school here. it was all so refreshing though. and slightly mind-boggling too. i really never expected that. she spoke about a proposed sean-paul concert up here, which didn’t exactly quite materialize in the way that patrons expected it to, for some reason [which was also mind-boggling, speaking of where people end up] but other than that, no one west-indian comes to perform here. or anything. yikes.
on a further positive and equally random note, today i bought cookies and lemonade from two lovely, brown-haired little white girls with a lemonade stand, in a nice middle-class neighborhood filled with well kept flowers, oak, pine, fir and acorn trees; painted fake-shutters on the side of the windows [or probably real] which i have only seen on the fisher-price toy-houses of my childhood and it struck me as a very American scene within which i had stepped into. and there i was — this trini, this black west-indian — having the best home-made chocolate chip cookies i’ve had in eons [and really, oatmeal and raisin is usually my thing] and drinking lemonade after a game of softball at a neighborhood field , no less [i spectated. did not play]. now i wish i had bought a stack of them. they were only a quarter. finally i can mark that off on my checklist of things to do in life: i’ve officially purchased from a lemonade stand! with a sign and everything!
afterwards, a friend that i’ve made in the program, asked me if there were lemonade stands in trinidad? and i was like um, no. then i described the neighborhood scene there to her: the wrought-iron gates, bad dogs and long driveways of the neighborhood that i live in, in east trinidad. the ridiculously loud green amazon parrots squawking at dusk and the early morning, the various fruit trees, the bats swooping in when the sun sets to attack the ripe sapodillas — and that we don’t make lemonade, lime juice, yes, sometimes. despite some of my issues with the states sometimes — i was thinking of the juxtaposition: of this sweet slice of Americana that i am experiencing, that you sometimes have to see, in order to know that it’s really there. this, layered with the scenes of my own homeland and the exquisite beauty existing within both.
sometimes, certain people get so hyped when they hear that you are from an island up here. it must be soooo beautiful, they often proclaim. and it is. but so too is this country and i sometimes forget that. alot. but never while i am here in this state, as i am taking in the endless stretch of pine trees, wild flowers of every shade, lavender flowers blooming in an open field. it’s like everything i’ve read about in an enid blyton book or looked at in any compilation of what’s quintessentially American. not to mention, the fresh butter and bread, all local. lush organic gardens and their produce. maple syrup from trees grown here. sheep and lambs on a farm — some of the cutest creatures ever, by the way. a deer at the edge of the forest. a sad but gorgeous grey-brown horse. a wild turkey strutting across the winding, country road, like a trini with an attitude saying, “bounce meh nah!” all this i’ve seen and more. sure, it’s no maracas look-out — but then again, no where else on earth is. so i’m taking it all in and reluctantly admitting that it’s places like these, that make me feel like i could fall in love with America, if i wasn’t already married to somewhere else.