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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back to the Suburban Grind: Taking care: the big whoop

Back to the Suburban Grind: Taking care: the big whoop: I wake everyone in the house with my coughing except my husband.  The fits can be hysterical and leave me spent.  If she's around, my li...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Taking care: the big whoop

I wake everyone in the house with my coughing except my husband.  The fits can be hysterical and leave me spent.  If she's around, my littlest continuously says "God bless you" and "I hope you feel better" until the coughing stops.  My eldest asks if I need a glass of water.  I always take it but it doesn't really help.  Then I try to get up and continue the day as though I do not have whooping cough, but a mild summer cold.  My husband is doing the same.

Sickness is weakness.  It is vulnerability and it is getting left behind whilst the pack proceeds.  It is side eyes and hands thrust on my warm head angry that I came down with whatever it is.  It is fear and loathing.  It is the frightening sense that I won't or can't be productive, that someone will find out I am not as strong as projected or promised.  That I am not invincible.  That I am not superhuman.  That I am human.  It is the stories of drowned Africans thrown overboard because they might infect the entire cargo.  It is sick slaves killed or left to die lest they not infect the tiny quarters of the others.  It is the infirm in a tribe left at the edge of camp to fend for himself or to find a place to slowly die in private or be attacked by ferocious animals.  It is the prisoner in an internment camp ravaged by disease and giving up his food for someone else to survive.  It is a Darwinian belief that I am not at the top of the human evolutionary chain and that I will die.  I will.

I used to joke that I didn't want to tell my father when I was sick because I was afraid that he'd be mad at me.  I knew he was hurt for my hurt and afraid but I couldn't do much to get better any faster and his pacing made me feel guilty and scared.  He couldn't talk to me.  I would try to will myself to good health as I drifted off in fevered dreams or try not to let it out when I felt my insides twist and threaten to force me to vomit or worse.  My mother would look in periodically but would stay at her usual distance.  She didn't talk to me.  It was when I was able to care for my own sick children, nurse them through colds and fevers and sore gums and teeth breaking through, and lay cold compresses on their heads and stroke their arms, snuggle them close as I wished their pain away, that I accepted that illness is just part of the human experience and that I surely didn't want them to feel a burden or a failure as I had.

Whooping cough is called the 100 days cough and though I can't tell exactly where I am on that timeline, it does feel like I have been coughing forever.  It came on like allergies or a summer cold and hit my oldest daughter first.  She coughed for weeks and at night she'd sometimes vomit from its force.  I'd get cross with her, certain she just wasn't trying hard enough to clear her throat, and would then spend the night by her side.  I asked her if she was sure it was as bad as all that and then rub her down with Vapor Rub.  She woke up in the morning OK and then it would start up again in the night.  That was as school was ending.  In June. 

I took her to the doctor as soon as school was out for summer.  After careful review of her body, her lungs, her eyes, ears, and nose, the doctor concluded that she had just a run of the mill upper respiratory infection.  He couldn't see anything and advised me to give her a cough medicine at night to ease the cough and encouraged me to continue with her daily Claritin.  Of course this didn't feel right to me but I left her to herself and followed the protocol.  And she didn't get better at all.  In fact, she got worse.  She coughed and gagged all night.  She fought to breathe.  She'd inhale and seem to stop breathing for a moment and I'd run to her rescue, always finding her in the middle of a massive inhale that stilled the room.  A week before we left for Barbados, I sent her back to the doctor and demanded antibiotics.

She never developed the whoop, the curlicued bark at the end of that desperate choke of a cough and though her symptoms matched the basic description of pertussis or whooping cough, this diagnosis never crossed the minds of either doctor.  Children are vaccinated for pertussis as part of the DTaP and then Tdap booster.  There are five doses of the DTaP that are given from 2 months until some time between the ages of 4 and 6 and the Tdap is recommended for people between the ages of 11 and 64 and what comes next will alert you to why.

The DTaP decreases in effectiveness as children get close to the age of 11 when the Tdap is administered.  But because whooping cough has been out of the general health conversation for so long due to these vaccines, very few have memory of it or expectation of seeing it which allows it to spread quickly and silently.  One week before my daughter returned to the doctor for a course of antibiotics, one of her best friends developed a cough so severe and violent that she too nearly threw up each time she coughed.  And then the big whoop.  The big whoop is a big deal because with the whoop there is no denying.  With the whoop there is concern and there is testing.  Her friend was tested first with a swab that was negative.  After meeting with a pulmonologist, her mother decided to follow up with the more precise blood test.  The blood test confirmed that it was pertussis.

Immediately I began trying to solve the puzzle to which, until moments earlier, I'd not realized I'd held so many pieces.  My daughter had been coughing for months.  So many around us described a cough that could not go away, bruised ribs, vomiting, and tears.  There were the endless nights of kids getting up coughing and having difficulty breathing.  It seemed like just a terrible allergy season.  So many diagnoses of bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses that seemed not to go away with multiple rounds of antibiotics.  Without a rash or telltale sign to certify its presence (not everyone develops the whoop), whooping cough was weaving through the community without a batted eyelash.

Fortunately, my daughter was treated with the antibiotic prescribed to render pertussis no longer communicable and her symptoms lessened.  We went on vacation.  Our friends were treated and, as is necessary when a positive diagnosis is made, were contacted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to whom they'd reported their symptoms, contacts, and treatment.  

My cough came and went so I felt confident that it was caused by my allergies.  I got back on my allergy medication even though it made me drowsy when it wasn't supposed to.  I continued to cough.  While on vacation I'd cough and occasionally find myself short of breath but I was sure it was my excess "vacationing" and thought nothing of it.  I was tired, I figured, and my body was letting me know that I was too old for these shenanigans.  When I was back home and taking a dance class, I noted that I felt short of breath again but assumed it was due to my sluggish, sunbed-and-cocktail lifestyle over the past week and change.  And then the cough that dropped me to the floor.  I couldn't breathe at all.  Heaved and then vomited and then continued coughing.  I was crying on the floor in the bathroom and couldn't catch a breath.  I just kept coughing and coughing and coughing and coughing.  My children were terrified and I could not reassure them because whenever I opened my mouth to speak I'd immediately start another fit.  My husband stood in the doorway and felt terribly sorry for me and very afraid and did not come any closer.

I was not comforted by his presence and he made no attempt to comfort me.  He wanted to know what 'pertussis' was called in French so he could better understand what was wrong with me.  I told him I felt terrible that I had doubted our girl when she couldn't stop coughing.  I cried on the floor next to the toilet because I'd asked my girl to stop coughing so much and I knew in this moment that she couldn't have.  He looked up the word 'pertussis' on Wikipedia and changed the language to French to find 'coqueluche.'  He read and cross-checked references.  He understood, he said.  He gave me details and statistics.  He told me it was what he thought it was.  He said, "poor Honeybee" as I coughed and coughed on the floor.  I held up my hands and asked him to pull me up so I could get in the bed and he walked me there and went to his office.  I called the doctor in the morning and was given a morning appointment.

Without a nasal swab or a blood test, it is not easy to determine pertussis in an adult.  I didn't whoop.  But I did have a consistent dry cough, no mucus or phlegm in the lungs like bronchitis.  That was ruled out.  I had no fever and no ear infection.  My throat was raw but there was very little drip.  When the doctor listened to my chest and my lungs she didn't hear much.  I told her I'd been exposed to whooping cough and that I suspected that my daughter had had it because she'd had all the symptoms before her friend developed the disease.  Whooping cough.  WHOOPING cough.  She listened for the whoop. 

"You don't have the telltale sound at the end of your cough," she'd said.  "I know you've had some exposure."

"Yes, I know. Look, I don't want to have whooping cough.  I spent last night on the floor in the bathroom coughing so hard I had to throw up.  I can't sleep from coughing."

"What did you throw up?"

"It's not a gastro issue.  I threw up because my cough was so hysterical."

"It doesn't seem like bronchitis."

"It's not.  I've had bronchitis.  This is not it."

"I can give you a cough suppressant with codeine and let's see if we can get you some sleep and if it doesn't do better for you then please call and I'll get you the antibiotic.   I'm just not sure of your exposure time and if it's bronchitis you'll definitely get some comfort and some rest."

"I've taken two different cough suppressants that have done nothing but I know that codeine will knock me out.  Let's see." 

And I coughed for hours until I finally passed out around 2:30 in the morning.  I called her the next morning and left a message with a receptionist that I wanted to be treated for pertussis, needed the correct antibiotic, and asked that she consider a blood test so that I could be sure that I would not infect anyone else.  She gave me the prescription and accepted that I could have pertussis but since my children had been recently vaccinated, she did not think there was reason enough to have me tested.  I'd be treated and if need be would revisit with her when the antibiotic course had run if I didn't feel better.  I sensed her dismissal but didn't push.  I knew that no one wanted to summon the CDC on their watch.

I hate being sick.  Sickness is being in my bed upstairs listening to the sounds my family one flight below and wondering if they've already forgotten me.  It is a profoundly lonely feeling of being left behind.  It is the last person out the door forgetting to shout goodbye and then hearing the silence of the house and my imagining what everyone is doing at school.  It is Love American Style before having to drift off, afraid to fall asleep alone in the house but too exhausted to watch any more programs.  It is needing to prove that I feel badly, that my body needs healing, that I need this rest, this sleep, this healing.  It is saying that I am broken, that I am hurt, and that I need fixing.  It is asking for help and feeling like a burden.  It is needing and it is terrifying.

My course of antibiotics is finished and though I continue to have wicked coughing spells, there are fewer than when it started.  My body is tired and my throat and rib cage are sore.  I have held myself up during this week so that I can be a support to my children who are dealing with transitions in their lives--the start of school, a fractured elbow for the little one, encroaching puberty for the eldest, but I have also claimed my space when it is needed.  There were many afternoons in the bed when the previous night's coughing jags kept me up wandering the house.  There were cuddles and forehead kisses so that possibly contagious mommy would not infect anyone else.  

Once when I was a teenager my mother and father both fell ill within days of one another.  Scar tissue from an earlier surgery in his intestines had caused some kind of blockage and dropped my father to the ground.  I remember visiting with him in the hospital and finding him so small.  I cannot remember if I am confusing this visit with another time, but I recall that he had a tube that passed through his nose and down his throat and that he and everyone who saw me watching it assured me that it caused him no pain.  He'd been sedated, so he was very drowsy and kind of sweetly childlike, like I'd never seen him before.  His voice was a whisper as though he were telling me the secret about how human he was while also hypnotizing me to forget.

My mother suffered from an ulcer and had been driven to the hospital by a neighbor.  I don't think we'd been able to see her so immediately and there were some warnings about not overreacting or agitating her more than she'd been.  She was also very small and so quiet.  I knew they had to let me in to see them but that they were not prepared for me to see them like that.  I was their child.  Sickness was weakness.  It was a threat to our shared mythology.  It was startlingly human and smelled like body, sweat and tears, mucus and saliva.  It drained from your nose to your stomach.  It was a dry mouth filled with cotton.  It was coughing fits and jags that shattered the silence and the pristine walls of our modern life.  It was dry hands, days unwashed, sweaty foreheads, and unkempt hair.  It was untidy and it was wild and it was needy and it was human.

When I close my eyes each night and try to relax into my pillow, I cough.  I am bolted upright, heaving and seizing from fits of coughs that empty my lungs of all the air until I gasp.  Then I try again to lie back.  Next to me, my husband snores himself to sleep having drawn the invisible line around me where the heaving, sighing, coughing, sweaty, teary sickness cannot touch him.  The girls are asleep in their beds.  Sickness is lying in the bed listening to the sounds of my family wondering if they know how hard it has been to carry this physical burden alone.  It is being physically tired and emotionally spent but pulling out one last trick for my children because I am the parent who will do that.  It is the profoundly lonely feeling of being important in how you are able to hold up the world for everyone else and watching them let you drop it when you just can't anymore.  It is lying in bed next to someone snoring while you cough so much you are afraid you might die and they don't move.  It is shame and fear and loneliness, and as a healer friend once said to me, it is a change of consciousness.

Pertussis or something like it is leaving my body though the cough may linger for months.  I'll probably get the booster when I am well so that I don't meet its symptoms again.  It has been a big deal, a big whoop, and extremely revelatory.  When I am sick, I need to be loved and cared for, to have my wounds salved, my soul rested.  It cannot be that at my most vulnerable I should be denied this kindness.  I have, myself, done this.  I have punished myself for being the most human being, for succumbing to nature's traps and pitfalls, pranks and sinister jokes.  Instead of kissing my own knees and suturing my own torn heart, I have punished myself before another would be able.  I have allowed a circle to be drawn around me to keep me out.  It has been incredibly hard being this sick and loving with all my breath when I could not breathe but I have learned again.  

My ribs no longer ache and my jags come mostly in the morning, last gasps of this crazy disease.  I'd rather it be me than the girls, rather I'd endure this pain that allow them preventable suffering.  That curlicued gasp at the end is when I realized that I haven't been well cared for.  That will change.

(c) Copyright 2017.  Repatriated Mama:  Back to the Suburban Grind.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back to the Suburban Grind: Barbados reveals

Back to the Suburban Grind: Barbados reveals: Part I. I lay in the water face up, floating on my back, letting the viscous, salt water of the Caribbean Sea buoy me.  I could hear the s...

Barbados reveals

Part I.

I lay in the water face up, floating on my back, letting the viscous, salt water of the Caribbean Sea buoy me.  I could hear the sounds of my children and others around me as I drifted between the present and some other time.  The sea had never been this delicious, this wonderful.  I let myself be on my own.  Closed my eyes even though I feared the waves might crash over me and go up my nose.  I resisted the urge to raise my head and closed my eyes.  The sun was hot on my face.  I could feel the heat in my lips and inhaled the sea's aura all around me.  I started to time travel.  My ancestors who passed through Barbados on their way to the Carolinas stood closer to shore.  I sensed the bleed of their garments swirling around me.  In my mind's eye I saw their head wraps and skirts, watched them wipe their hands on their clothes, peeped them sneaking bits of mango into the mouths of their own children.  I recalled a time when visiting Jamaica as a young girl sucking the juice from a sugar cane stalk and wishing we could take this sweetness with us forever.  I remembered that the cane was the cotton of the Caribbean.  I remembered the gnarled hands of my great-grandfather, Jesse Ben, and his clean, well-shaped fingernails.  He was old when I was a girl and lived long into my adulthood.

I closed my eyes as waves rocked me and saw stars when I opened them to the turquoise and azure hues of the sky and sea.  I thought, as I often do when I find myself alone in nature, how did the people of long ago experience this?  I thought of Africans coming ashore in what looks like paradise, only to become slaves to someone else's heaven.  I thought of poor black people washing themselves in the sea, rubbing the fine sand on their faces and knees and elbows and feet as I'd seen many locals do when we lived here.  I recalled the old man who passed me going down the aisle on the airplane to find his way to the bathroom who looked like an older version of my father and wondered if my family tree, were I able to trace it, would find some of our people in Barbados.  I concluded that it was possible.  Maybe that was why we'd relocated there to begin with.  That I might find my way to myself somehow.

The sun was high and bright and the water's undulation hypnotic and the number of rum punches consumed had me outside of my control and into a space more nebulous and open.  Breathing in the air, feeling the water lap against my ears, I opened my eyes to consider how this place suddenly felt like home after all of the promises broken and kept, after the punishing loneliness, after I'd called her my heart of darkness.  But my heart of darkness still pumps life blood through me, shows me connection, and gives me direction.  She has been patient with me and has allowed me to love and be loved, no matter my fear of it.

Part II.

I was as afraid of Barbados as I was of myself.  She was dark and hot and humid and fecund and feral, shiny, damp, throbbing, and deep.  She wore her colonialism like a necklace or a yoke depending on what circle you traveled and she was beautiful.  She was in your face heavenly at times, then seedy and broken.  I'd come to Barbados like a white American tourist.  I don't say that with pride.  But I'd prepared, as did my Euro-centered, patriarchy-card carrying, rigidly gendered French husband, for a life in paradise.  A two year break from the grind.  We'd dreamt of sun and sea and sand and tropical drinks and "maybe even someone to help you care for the children; it's really cheap there, you know?"  I was still pregnant when we began the conversation about the move that would take us from New York City, my home, what I'd thought was my true north, to the Caribbean.

I'd only marginally considered how I'd relate or connect to the people of Barbados and was reassured that I'd meet the "wives of other employees" and would be part of an expatriate community which I presumed correctly would be mostly white.  In Barbados I was black but a different black.  I'd no Caribbean roots (that I knew of) and moved through space like a New Yorker.  I was efficient, abrupt, focused.  I acted with precision and purpose.  I was frustrated by the slower gaits, imprecise schedules, and indirect responses.  Expats marveled at the locals' disinterest in their companies' priorities, called them incapable, demonized their behavior and infantilized them in their minds.  My husband regaled me and anyone who would listen about the unsophisticated ways in which they worked, how uncouth, how unprofessional, how inelegant, and I was struck by the overtones. 

I'd spent my life, as instructed, proving these beliefs untrue.  I knew that whites' impressions of me could determine my opportunities.  That being likeable, malleable, complacent, unchallenging would allow me access to spaces forbidden to other black people.  Before I could be called lazy, I worked harder and more efficiently than anyone else.  Before I could be called messy or sloppy, I was well turned out and presented.  Before I could be called unintelligent, uneducated, unprepared for the tasks at hand, I'd worked and considered every angle.  There were rewards for this good behavior and the rewards quieted my restlessness for a time.  I believed they were what I wanted, gifts, treats.  I'd been a dear pet, a cultivated, curated, well-edited example of how to do it right, only revealed to be the sham that it was when the developing nation of Barbados showed me myself.

I know how I looked and I know what I sounded like and it fills me with shame.  In trying to right myself when postpartum depression and anxiety turned me upside down, I lashed out.  Self-loathing and internalized racism made me angry that Barbados hadn't easily opened herself to me.  Wasn't I her kin?  I had no friends.  Locals looked at me suspiciously, tried to suss me out, make heads or tails of this black American girl and her French husband and multicultural babies.  I was indignant for my husband, wished the cooks in his kitchen could make his life easier for him so that he could, in turn, make my life easier.  I willed them to be better, to act better, to give a damn about the shitty hotel company that couldn't have given a damn about them, to show up for their low wage in the hot kitchen to work tirelessly and thanklessly for spoiled tourists so my husband could be praised and exalted.  I hated what I believed they were doing to my family. The cultural divide between my husband and I broadened and I saw for the first time the weight of his self-importance and privilege and my deference to it.

I said silent prayers to Barbados to get her shit together. (Wasn't I trying to muffle my cries each night as I found my thoughts turn more and more psychotic?  Why couldn't she?  Why did she always have to show her contempt?  Her wounds?  Her pain?)  I asked her not to be as she was.  (I'd been stuffing myself down my throat my entire life!  My parents had hung up on my while I wailed in fear at the monkeys coming to the screen-less windows and I tried to act casual about it.)  I asked her to make it easier for the tourists visiting our landscape.  (Let them feel special and important.  Let them focus on your blue waters and have their hair braided and tell you that now they looked just like you.  Let them tell you how much they love you and your food and your dress and your style and then return to the air-conditioned luxury hotels and villas whilst you tell them they are pretty and return to your modest dwelling.)  I asked her to keep her skeletons in her closet.  (It can't be colonialism, racism, class structure, and history preventing your rise and your success.  Barbados is not ready for prime time, can't get it right.) 

In a class about the Barbadian character, my husband and other white expats were taught to expect a passive-aggressive position from the Bajans/Barbadians.  It was explained that because, unlike slave masters and traders on other islands of the Caribbean and in the United States, the slavers of Barbados had allowed families to stay together, had not separated them through sale, and had therefore made its black population more complacent, docile.  The terrain, unlike other islands, did not provide much place to escape.  There were no mountain ranges or protected landmasses in which to hide.  That this modified history was meant to explain to expat workers the resistance they might meet when dealing with locals making pennies to their dollars infuriated me.  That they believed it made it worse.  When my parents came to visit the island, my father said that Barbados "wasn't ready for prime time" and I knew that she still had more to prove.  We both did.

In New York City, I could disappear into the melting pot.  I could ride the subway, walk down the sidewalks, go to work, restaurants, parks with people from all walks of life.  Sure, there were pockets of complete WASPy whiteness and areas where black and brown communities set up "Little" versions of their homeland, but for the most part I was amongst the world's population every day.  The blackness of Barbados hit me like the wall of humidity that sweated my hair, all coiffed and presented for my reunion with my husband, when I walked down the stairs at the back of the plane the evening of our arrival to the island.  It curled my hair, glossed my cheekbones, and parted my lips.  She gave my swinging hips and the jiggle my ass made when I walked permission.  She showed me all the black ladies and men doing all the things.  She gave me eye contact and I was at first afraid to meet her gaze.

I got lost in Barbados.  Walking through the mansion's ruins deep in the forest of mahogany trees at Farley Hill overlooking the island's Atlantic Coast, I discovered her lush, soft heart, and mine for her.  I fell in love with this place and then the east coast.  My first foray into the island, going deeper to her core, no longer flitting on her edges where tourists and expats teased her and hedonistically played with her, I discovered another type of paradise.  It was morose and melancholy.  There was a Victorian sadness to this place.  Ghosts, secrets, and whispers.  It was here that I made my first friends on a class trip with my oldest girl. They resuscitated me.  They shared their secrets and let me tell mine.  This included my shame and my pride and my confusion.  I was able to admit that the paradise promised had not been what I'd expected.  That the sun was too bright and too hot for this exhausted mother, that our house was uncomfortable, that I'd been so lonely, that my husband didn't and couldn't meet my needs, that being a black, African-American expatriate in a country of black Caribbean people was more challenging than I'd expected. 

I didn't recognize the New Yorker who'd just begun making a career for herself, who'd finally found a real place to call home, who'd confronted assaults and deep old wounds only to see the post traumatic stress pull any sense of safety out from under her.  I couldn't believe how bad I was at living abroad.  I'd dreamed since I was a girl of being a "woman of the world" and then couldn't hack it.  I thought, I can't even hang on this little island with black people and I thought I was going to be a world traveler?  I'd been fed and made complacent on the spoils of the first world.  I wanted my rules, my food, temperature control, my media, fast internet, VOGUE magazine, sidewalks and clean streets.  I wanted businesses and companies that thought I was always right.  I wanted antiseptic correctness.  I feared real connection and contact and Barbados wanted to touch me.  Touch me with her warm fingers, take me into her beating heart, get mango juice and soursop, sugarcane, coconut, lime, breadfruit and flying fish fry in my hands and my hair.  I thought I could move there, live there, raise my children there and remain untouched, unchanged but she revealed herself to me and me to myself.

Part III.

Though I was angry with Barbados and my time spent there, I kept coming back. I kept up with dear friends and the weekly news.  I followed different organizations on the island and got excited about the island's successes.  I met people living in the United States from Barbados with pride and told them of my time spent there.  I tattooed a flying fish, the nation's symbol, on my right forearm underneath the Eye of Horus.  I still regaled people with my tales of monkeys and cultural confusion, long days spent at the immigration office, and word for word play by play of conversations I'd had with customer service at varying businesses, but I kept going back.  When I told white people I'd met about my years in Barbados they'd say, "See!  I knew you were from the islands!"  To which I'd always reply, "I'm actually an American born black person.  My parents and their parents are from here too.  We've no Caribbean roots that I know of."  They'd always meet my response with suspicious eyes.  They understood why they visit the Caribbean, for the sun and the sea, but couldn't imagine that I'd somehow have been there for the same reasons, suspected that I was keeping my roots a secret.  There is no secret.

My father and mother both went in search of their roots using and found what they'd pretty much suspected.  Many US narratives begin in West Africa, and theirs was no exception.  There are various European attributes that can more than likely be traced to the rape of my slave ancestors.  That's no secret.  They've also worked diligently with their siblings on their family trees to see how far back they can trace our family.  We are at the mercy of the slave masters' records.  What I know is that Barbados and the Carolinas have a very deep connection for both white slavers/forefathers and the slaves they transported with them for trade.  My people are from the Carolinas and the surrounding areas. 

As the daughter of black Southerners, I have made the connection to my slave ancestors, seen the soil where they toiled, been inside the modest homes where they lived.  I have been inside the churches and listened at my grandparents' and my great-grandparents' knees of stories that brought dimension and depth and value to the lives of the people who came before me.  I loved their character, their strength, and their dignity.  I despised that they were made to bend to the whims of white people, that their lives were not fully realized because of what racism and poverty inflicted upon them, and that the crosses they were made to bear were never acknowledged by the good, white people who'd unloaded them onto their backs.  These warm brown, beautiful people never believed how glorious they were.  That their lush, dark, soft hearts, sweated brows, and sinewed arms, strong hands, and wooly hair deserved to be loved.

It is with that love that I return to Barbados.  To tell her that I love her, and myself, in her imperfection.  That is she a baby, a young one, and that I am sorry for having been unforgiving.  I have been that way for myself.  Because I didn't learn that my blackness, my heat, my desire, my need, my gifts, my treasures, my heart, my humanity was enough.  That I could allow myself a moment to float aimlessly or rest.  That I didn't have to prove that I was other than I was.  Than I am.  When I next visit Barbados, I am going to spend Foreday Morning with my friends native and adopted.  I am going to follow the steps of the man who looks like my father and let myself be painted in mud and colors.  I am going to wash myself off in the sea and trace the color stained sweat down my face.  I am going to rise and fall with other black people into the night and let Barbados finally, actually fill up the cracks in my story.  I may jump at the Grand Kadooment or find other Cropover events in which to participate and I will come to the sea and float on my back, careful not to let the water go up my nose.  I will let the water come to my ears and listen for my heartbeat.  I will catch the heartbeat of those who came before me and I will let the sun brown my body to a deep mahogany.  

Barbados nearly broke me.  She did crack me open.  And is now filling those cracks with moon dust.  What I'd wanted was a picture, a two dimensional postcard of my life.  Instead I found that I must put my hands in, dig in deep, pull from myself the lies and deceits embedded in me to make me easier, less than I am.  I have learned to love being this black woman.  I have loved having a deep, wounded, melancholy heart because she has shown me how to be compassionate.  I know the chemtrails of slavery weave themselves across my soul's starry sky and that I have carried that dark secret as it were my own.   It isn't only mine to bear.  What is my own is the light.  What is mine is my heartbeat in my ears as I float in the water.  What is mine is the undulating rhythm of the waves.  What is mine are the things revealed to me living in Barbados.

(c) Copyright 2017.  Repatriated Mama:  Back to the Suburban Grind.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

City Mom in the Jungle: Signed confession

City Mom in the Jungle: Signed confession: Virginie and Lily are using expert tactics on me here in the jungle, something I think all intelligence agencies should consider when hoping...

City Mom in the Jungle: Signed confession

City Mom in the Jungle: Signed confession: Virginie and Lily are using expert tactics on me here in the jungle, something I think all intelligence agencies should consider when hoping...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Back to the Suburban Grind: Fallen: Dead Baby Birds

Back to the Suburban Grind: Fallen: Dead Baby Birds: Spring: such beautiful things and dead baby birds.  I have spent hours each day walking the puppy child, our new baby, and listening ...