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Reflections on the City I Call Home

Montego Bay Jamaica

12:05pm (Thurs)

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)

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9 thoughts on “Reflections on the City I Call Home”

  1. This is a beautiful post. I feel your frustration and deep love very strongly. It amazes me that a place, our homes, can be so wonderful and supportive but also heartbreaking and, forgive the pun, taxing at the same time. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words skyllairae. Yes, that is the way it often is with the places we love. But it is what it is I suppose. As I travel, I have found that it adds more perspective though. Traveling makes me yearn for the things that I have come to love in other places yet in those moments I more deeply miss what only home can provide.

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      1. That is the most fantastic way of saying it: more deeply missing what only home can provide. But as this awesome lady kept telling me on a plane ride home: you have to get out (of home). The push and pull. Anyway, it’s one of my favorite topics.

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  2. Yes, yes, a hundred times yes. I feel so much love and affection for this city I call home but as I grow older the veneer gets stripped away.

    How much do we owe to the places that nurture us; how much more do we owe to ourselves?

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    1. That’s the question that I feel I will grapple with eternally. I sometimes feel like there is more I could do to help fuel change. But then I think, I am only one person. Some things feel so deeply entrenched in our culture that I just don’t know. I try to keep hopeful though. Just have to take things a step at a time and do the best I can. Thanks for listening and always being there.

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    1. I am grateful for having met you too and your husband! By did you get the email I sent a few weeks ago? Check your email — March 2nd. We will talk soon. Lov ya and say hi to your hubby for me 🙂

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  3. Beautifully written. I too love Mobay – its beauty, its pace and its frustrations; but what I like best is that despite all of that there’s a richness of humor, attitude and gusto for life.
    As you wait, enjoy each day.

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