They say home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. This may be true in most cases but for this immigrant at least, home has been a slightly more complicated concept for longer than I can remember. I say longer than I can remember because, taken together, my own experience and that of the generations’ on both sides dating as far back as Charlemagne if Uncle Arthur’s research is conclusive, record every shade of motivation known to humanity for planting and uprooting our family.
I got my first passport a few months shy of my third birthday. The occasion? We were being reunited with our mother after nearly a year’s separation. She had gone to ‘America’ to advance her education – at least so several of her inner circle thought according to the letters (forthcoming) written to her during that year. It was the year of the worst hurricane on record for the region – 1963, and also the year Miss Jamaica won the Miss World crown, half a century ago.
Who would have guessed then that the little island girl presumed mute by all beyond the family would find herself and call it home, not once, but twice, on a cold little cape at the end of the train line somewhere in Massachusetts. One of the things that keeps me coming back here is the neighborliness. Friendships forged 20 years ago pick up where they left off without skipping a beat. Initially, I came for a visit to see friends along the coast I hadn’t seen in years. At one fortuitous dinner, a fellow girl geek – a regular at the monthly gatherings that have continued in my absence, offered me her house and car for the month she’d be away working on a database in Washington State. Naturally, I went home for my dog and returned. One month turned into a summer with the possibility of a winter rental and a writing gig that appears to be tailor-made for my mind and heart.
Carless and carefree, I let someone know I’d be coming back to town from the town next door this evening, cutting it close for the bus schedule. She called on her way up from the museum to see if I ‘d made it and reached me by phone while I was walking my dog and she was cruising the aisles at our favorite second hand store – the one where I picked up curtains and rod this afternoon for $10. So I mentioned that I’d left my water bottle there and she dropped it off on her way home. Where else, if not small town America. Sure, you’re always in a fishbowl but it beats crabs in a barrel corporate America hands down.