I'm approaching my 9th year on US soil and every year as my anniversary (July 31st) approaches, I grow homesick. Trinidadians have grown post happy as of late so my torment is greatly amplified by Facebook streams filled with fete/party pictures, beach/river limes and debates on whether or not chicken is an appropriate choice for modifying the doubles formula. I WANT TO GO HOME NOW!!!
Sorry, I really had to get that out of my system. here is my list of the Top Ten reasons to move back T&T (feel free to add in any of your own reasons in the comments):
- Public Holidays
- Cost of Car repairs
Allow me to elaborate:
Food - yes the one thing I miss the most is some good home food. Even though we do get some of the local creature comforts here in the US, I still miss getting a hot doubles fresh in Curepe junction, cow heel soup round de savannah or a hot bake an shark from Richards. I miss eating pomerac, dous dous, starch, julie and calabash mango; I want a good five finger and some sapodilla. I am tired of using spinach to make callalloo, I just want a good fish broth, some oil down and a little pig foot souse.......is that too much to ask?
Family - It certainly does not help that 97% of my family still lives in T&T. When I left in '02, many cousins weren't even ten, now many of them are 18, 21 and older, voices broken in, getting people pregnant/getting pregnant, etc. I now have a string of second cousins that I really don't know. This is tough on a person especially when coming from a family as close knit as mine. As cousins, we did everything together, party, work, lime, through thick an thin and with all that, the separation is especially taxing.
Beach - well this one is obvious. People at home often ask "what, dey doh have no beach in de States?" Why yes there are beaches here which is cool and all as long as you cool with driving 4 hours to get there. The nearest real beach (we have several artificial ones here in Atlanta) is on Tybee Island in Savannah, GA (4 hours away). There's Charlston, South Carolina (5 hours), Panama City Beach (6 hours), Myrtle Beach (5 hours) or South Beach in Miami (10 hours). You could imagine how tough it is to plan a beach lime.
Tobago - Do I really need to say any more?
Carnival - it has been nine long, agonizing years since my last Trinidad Carnival. The Carnivals in Atlanta, DC, Houston, Miami, etc are fun distractions but there really is no substitution for the real thing. I miss Soca Monarch and Brass Festival (gone but not forgotten), Pier 1 Cooler fete, Insomnia, Glow. I miss wining my dutty mud buttom on people car J'ouvert morning and I miss storming Harts with the boys on Carnival Tuesday.
Christmas - One of the best times of year to be a trini is Christmas time. That special time of year when the black cake that's been soaking since August finally sees the light of day, when the pastelles and paime finally come out and the sweet bread with a tall glass of sorrel or ginger beer. But aside from the food, I really miss paranging in Paramin or the parang festival in Maracas in October. Few words can properly convey what a trini Christmas is like, but for those of us that experienced it, there is nothing better.
*for my first trip back home in nearly 7 years, I am still contemplating whether to go home for Christmas this year or Carnival 2012; some tough choices ahead.
Public Holidays - As a member of the slave labour force employed here in the US, I get 7 public days off per year:
New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yeah, shameful isn't it?
I can't think of very many months in the year that Trinbagonians don't have at least one day off. I swear anytime I pick up the phone to call somebody back home they're at home.....again. And don't let it be football or Olympics, cricket, Ms. World/Ms. Universe or something random like that. I remember getting half days off from school to allow students to go support the West Indies playing in the Queens Park Oval or the Soca Warriors (Strike Squad back in the day) playing in the National Stadium.
Limin - Wow trinis could lime. Club Coconuts Wednesday night, Base Thursday, Brian Lara Promenade Friday night, Saturday we shooting pool down in Couva, Sunday Morning beers after church (yeah), you get the picture. You have to wonder how people find time for work, family, church, etc.....good thing we have all those public holidays.
Cost of Car repairs - okay so the catalytic converter is gone, what do you mean USD$1,500?! I know you not telling me USD$400 to replace some damn brakes. Why is it that I never had this problem at home? Oh right, everybody and dey grandmother was a mechanic plus trinis always have the Bamboo to go to for parts. foreign-used transmission? No problem....shocks and struts? small ting. But up here, mechanics charge an arm and a leg for labour sometimes $125 to $200 an hour. One time I recall it cost me $400 to put in a $40 part, that's not right.
Church - I haven't seen the inside of a church in years (aside from weddings and funerals) but this is odd considering that I averaged 2 masses per weekend (senior altar server) while at home. To be fair, Catholics aren't known for having the most spirited of masses but to be honest, some were pretty hype. And even if you weren't Catholic, you were still somehow impacted anyway whether it be Parish harvest, sports and family day, intra parish football tournaments, etc. Whether you liked it or not, church played an important part in the community and I felt like I was part of something.
I honestly tried to go to church my first few years here, but mass always felt like those big masses you see on EWTN at the Vatican: long, boring and apparently in another language. I miss my guitar, cuatro, chac chac and the african drums playing along with the choir made up of Miss Mabel and Tanty Euclelin. I miss the bake sales after church with the homemade cupcakes, bake an smoke herring or bake an buljol (yes I like to eat, see the first point).
Wrapping it up........
I wouldn't exactly say that life in the US has been hard (it has) but I will say that it never quite fully felt like home. Thanks to all the importers working hard to bring that taste of home to us, you hard work is not for naught but I no longer want a taste of home, I want home.