I feel a tug-and-war kind of love for Montego Bay, the city I call home. Sometimes I think it is too little to hold me and my dreams. I feel boxed in, crushed by the scent of the sea. The weight of waiting — for a change, a breakthrough — hangs like a shroud over my shoulders.
When tourists come we show them the Montego Bay shoreline, let them paint their toes in the sand. “Welcome to Montego Bay, Jamaica! No problem man!” we say with glistening smiles. They come dancing in sunlight, hungry for the warmth in our days. We tell them about all the things we love about our city, the jerk chicken, white sand beaches, the reggae music sounding in every corner, the warm sun, the fruits like soursop and naseberry and star apple and pine…
But some days I watch the skies and the sea, wondering when I’ll get to leave. Wondering if leaving will finally bring me closer to where I want to be. Closer to a better home — a better life.
The frustration sinks deep, settles in my belly like shadows. Frustrations compounded by simple things. Like going to the Tax Office two days ago, only to find out that my tax registration card — we call it the TRN — isn’t ready after one year! All I requested a year ago was a simple change of name — the replacement of my maiden name with my married name — so I could file my tax returns.
But even after one whole year, I still can’t get my tax registration card. One year of wait! And worse of all, I had to join a queue so I could add my name to a list because, according to administrative officer, that’s the only way I could get it. As though a year’s worth of wait wasn’t enough.
“And how long will this take?” I asked.
“We are not certain. Come back in a few months.”
In such moments I can’t help but feel like a shadow in the city, waiting for something more than this. Something more than the wait.
I wonder, what is here for me? I wonder what opportunities I am missing while I wait. What are the lessons I should learn as I hear of the horrors in newspapers — gang rapes, infanticide by mothers — horrors made worse by the government’s senseless chatter?
Between the monotony of everyday life, the grind of trying to make a living, I find a quiet place and dream. I often see myself with a book in hand, that I’ve finally published. Other times, I see myself and my husband with children in our arms. Some days all I see is a blank space, an empty page. All I hear is the sea rolling on, and on…
(A response to We Built This City)