There are a lot of crummy things happening in the world right now. Planes are shot down, entire regions are either under cease-fire or not under cease-fire depending on the day, innocent citizens are being shot at by those who are entrusted to protect them. It would almost seem crass not to comment on these events if you’re going to share your voice with the internet right now. But instead of sharing what I think or theorize, I’ll risk it and talk about something else – something I think is true (not that other ideas or theories aren’t true), and I’ll get there, but I want to tell you something first.
Last week I was sitting in my office and came across this post. In it contained a video that this blogger took while he was in Nigeria. The video is a series of short clips, perhaps partly to accommodate our collective shortening attention span. But partly I think it was to jar the viewer into situations in a non-romanticized kind of way. They were real observations, beautiful observations, through a camera lens, one after another, of someone living in Nigeria.
At the end of the video I had to breathe. I was taken back by the familiarity to my experience in Trinidad and Tobago (although they have their differences). Crowded, merging highways where every square inch of lanes and shoulders are used to get ahead. Animals, stray dogs or farm animals, in peculiarly daily, public spaces. But Trinidad nor Nigeria is all rural; in Trinidad there are cities and skyscrapers and a skyline that’s littered with cranes which makes me think it’s poised for development, but already Trinidad has had a rich history of growth and development.
But the starkness of these images and video stopped me in my tracks. All the sudden I was brought back to that chapter in my life in college when I lived there for 6 months – the fun, the independence, the loneliness, the pride and racism (that you find in any country), the brotherhood/sisterhood feeling of an entire nation. Pieces that I won’t experience anywhere else.
The same thing happened this afternoon when my friend Kaitlyn and I tried a new restaurant: a Caribbean place that is run by a Trinidadian family. We got roti which is like this chick-pea mixture with potato that gets placed in floppy bread, kind of like you would with a buritto. Except the bread is dhalpuri and as soon as I started to unfold it, the scent of sunshine, laughter and “liming” (Trini for hanging out) just came pouring into the air – something I haven’t smelled in years. I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, I was a sight, laughing and eating at the same time. Thankfully Kaitlyn didn’t take pictures (at least that I know of).
So all this is to say that I didn’t expect to be reminded of these things this week. I don’t think living in the past is a good way to go, but revisiting times of joy and growth and love can really be quite lovely, and remind us that the world is a diverse and beautiful place. Don’t let them pass by. Catch them as they float by. It’s okay to sit there for a little while. Now please excuse me while I fill our apartment with soca music and teach Buddy how to wuk (walk). (Really it’s not that hard, but it’s an art. Yuh gotta wuk).