Teardrops & Tealights

Moist, wrinkled chicken drumstick in my hand, snot pouring from my nose. I try to steady my shivering haFrench trlnds and focus my blurred vision through hot tears. Careful not to draw my own blood as I prepared the poultry meal, but overcome by a wellspring of pain.

A quiet touch on my shoulder attempts to comfort me, but the sobs only grow deeper, longer, louder. My father calmly says “I love you,” and I return the sentiment between intermittent gasps for air. I begin to list off all of the reasons he has found me in such a state.

For the third night in a row, I’ve watched as some aspect of my mother’s declining health was on full display. Delusions of betrayal, revolving trips to the restroom at all hours of the evening, continuous pain emanating from multiple parts of the body at once.

It hurts. I hurt. My mother is suffering and watching her pseudo-exist in this state is draining.

While in Barbados, my mother made marked improvements in her health. She was more active, more relaxed and the most alive I’d seen her in years. But almost immediately upon return to the United States, we have seen a steady regression and the results are discouraging.

Being back Stateside has had its ups but lots of downs. We went from living a life of relative comfort (and even enjoying relative luxury) to crashing with family and searching for new ways to survive.

It’s not to say that we are without blessing or that every day is shrouded in defeat. But the days are long and the nights are longer. My mind is weary. My body is tired. My light is dim.Tea Light

But I still have a light. Some days it shines brighter than others, but thank God… it is still here. And I refuse to let sickness and circumstance snuff it out. So I will shine. I will glow. I will burst into flame above the eye of any storm I meet.

I am more than a conqueror.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8: 37-39


My Life In Facebook Apps

I’ve always been a proponent of the literary concepts of analogy and metaphor. Life gets messy and sometimes we need simple, less complicated images to help us make sense of what it’s all about. Aside from the hokey pokey.

Recently, God has revealed to me how life is a lot like a collection of Facebook Apps. For my purposes, He used the example of Candy Crush versus Cookie Jam.

If you’ve ever been on the social networking site Facebook, then it’s pretty likely that you received a jellybean shaped life request from a friend for an addictive little game called Candy Crush. This game took the nation (or dare I say, the world?) by storm a few years ago and is still pretty popular today.

The object is fairly simple. Match at least 3 “candies” in a row or column to break whatever surface lies beneath. Each time you succeed in breaking a surface, you are congratulated by hypnotizing dings and bloops, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. With its constant attaboys, invitations to “Try Again” if you’ve failed, and opportunities to level up, the game has become highly addictive for some people. While I am not one of those people who became addicted to an online game, I – ahem – certainly see how that can happen.

Like many things in my life, I was a late adapter to this game. I didn’t have a smartphone for awhile and my PC threatened to implode if I tried to play the game online. So, as with most popular movements, I was missing out. Once I upgraded my tech resources and began playing games, I quickly noticed a disturbing pattern: I was dreaming about Candy Crush.

What prompted these dreams? Well, while I do not have a degree in psychology, I strongly believe that my in-game achievements are used as placeholders for real-life advancements.

Recently, my family and I returned to the U.S. after a stint abroad in the Caribbean. It’s a long story, so I’ll spare you the bureaucratic details. Suffice it to say that we took a chance, it was lovely, but it ultimately did not work out.

So now, we’re back Stateside. Back to where we started from. Back to the rat race and keeping up with the Karda– Joneses. Every day is filled with job applications, résumé edits and phone interviews. Meanwhile, medical expenses mount, health declines, and the desire to have a “normal” life for me to have a “normal” life increases.

So back to Candy Crush. Another component of the popular match-three games is the occasional visit down the wormhole. A side excursion which allows you to earn extra points and tools. These little games within games are neat departures from the typical school of play, but they are often more challenging than the original game and can create more stress.

One day, I received an invite for a new match-three game called Cookie Jam. While the concept is nearly identical to that of Candy Crush, I’ve found that the play is easier and I’ve yet to have any dreams (or nightmares) about this goofy time-waster. Maybe because I’m more successful at the game, that need to succeed at something is satiated and corresponding anxiety is quelled.

Now, Cookie Jam is a less popular game. The graphics aren’t as slick, the music less entrancing. But I like it. It works for me. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it meets my pedestrian needs. I may not have many people to talk to about it and I’m not sure I even want people to know I play it. But a game is a game. And if I must play a game, then sometimes I have to choose a game the works best for me, at which I can excel. I can’t compare my platform of preference to anyone else.

I’ve found that the same is true in life. Since returning “home” I’ve been pursuing a career in the hot, sexy, glamorous world of startups. After all, I am a millennial living in the Metro Atlanta area. I am supposed to work for a trendy startup company with unlimited vacation days and in-office happy hours (locally brewed beer included).

StartupSo I go out and get the all-important perfect startup interview outfit, polish my résumé — I even enrolled in a coding class! I apply for startup after startup. Rarely do I hear back. If I do, it’s either in the form of a rejection letter telling me I am great, but others were greater; or sometimes, they want to have a “casual chat” on the phone. Rarer still, after the phone “chat”, I am asked to come in for an “in-person meeting.” [Note: These companies often avoid calling anything preliminary an interview. I guess we’re trying to keep it chill? Super cas’?]

I press my bright pink pencil pants from my aforementioned 3386437_1381716248194-47res_500_500startup ensemble, get my hair and nails done and head to whatever gentrified co-working space houses the next big thing in technology. The interview begins. The interview ends. I interviewed well. I killed it. They loved me, I loved them. The only thing missing was the big purple dinosaur.

A few days go by. Nothing. I think Should I follow up at the risk of appearing dimpatient? Just as I am about to hit send on my subtle nudge email, the phone rings. It’s them! My heart and breath stop as I eagerly wait to hear the words “We think would make a great addition to our team and would like to offer you the position.” Instead, the voice on the other end informs me that while I interviewed very well and did nothing wrong… they’ve chosen to go with another candidate.

Disappointed and confused, I thank them for their time and consideration and hope they will keep me in mind for a future role. [Click.]

This pattern of rejection is becoming all too familiar. Yes, rejection is part of the job search. ‘X’ number of résumés sent out – ‘y’ rejection letters – ‘z’ interviews = ‘n’ number of companies that may offer you a job. But as searching for a job in and of itself is a full-time job, it can be hard not to let your morale drop to an all-time low. You just want a little reward for all of your hard work.

Observing my frustration, my father made a very good suggestion. One that in my earlier years, I would not have wanted to hear. He said “You are veering off of your path. You started out in a social services space and ended up pursuing careers in technology, et cetera. I know you want a job and those are the jobs that seem hot right now, but you need to stick with your strengths. The last thing you want to become is a jack of all trades and a master of none.”

Stick with your strengths. The last thing you want to become is a jack of all trades and a master of none.

This advice was hard to hear because I thought I had devised a master plan to get a cool job; a house in a hip, gentrified neighborhood; and the acceptance and admiration of my peers. But my dad reminded me that life isn’t about those things. Not for me, anyway.

Just like my relationship with Facebook games, I’ve had to reassess my career platform. While the tech startup world is exciting and cool and the game that everybody is playing, it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t excel there. I do excel in spaces where I get to help people. Where I get to tell stories. Where I get to be authentic to who I am.

So, just as I have done with Candy Crush, I will forgo the tech trek and pursue instead social solutions. I don’t know how long it will take me to level up and there may not be many boosters along the way, but at least I am reassured of my purpose and I can have peace during my journey.

Forget Comfort

Starbucks’ Holiday Spice Flat White

My family and I have been Stateside only a couple of weeks and already I miss my new home. Sure, it’s nice to breathe in the crispness of late autumn air. With the holiday season in full swing, I love to see the tree-lined streets illuminated with thousands of little lights. I enjoyed my tall Holiday Spice Flat White from Starbucks this afternoon. Visiting with friends I had not seen in awhile is good for the soul.

I suppose I thought that when I got here, I would fall madly in love with the place I called home for 16 years and find it difficult to leave. To my surprise, my feelings have run neutral on the matter.

In fact, the longer I remain on U.S. soil, the more I realize just how conducive island life is to the person I hope to be. The weather is warm, the sights are breathtaking, the food is refreshing, the people are… interesting. A warm countenance. A breathtaking compassion. A refreshing attitude. An interesting story. These are all characteristics I hope to possess as I mature into the woman God made me to be and I believe the Caribbean is an ideal place to cultivate these fruits.

Of course, a lifelong walk on the beach is not my sole motivation for returning to the island. I also see the evident progress my mother has experienced in the picturesque settings of Barbados. There is a constant stream of pure, uncut Vitamin D which shines through our glass patio doors. Every drive along the coasts offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea to our west or the Atlantic Ocean to our east. Trips to markets provide access to the freshest fish and the most perfect produce, aiding in beneficial dietary changes. Every weekend, there are tantalizing cultural exhibitions that stimulate the pathways and neurotransmitters of a weary yet determined brain. The peace and contentment that washes over my mother as she watches the waves wash ashore beneath the setting sun is worth more than all the supposed comfort that familiar faces and fast food restaurants could provide.

I breathe a sigh of relief as my father relaxes in the peacefulness of a country where his ebony complexion is neither disdained nor revered, and different cultures are shared and celebrated. Invaluable is the ability to breathe and be as a man without the whispers of dissension and separation playing on 24-hour news channels as a broken record in the recesses of his mind. Comforting is the idea that his wife and daughter do not have to worry about him as much when he makes a late night ice-cream run. Reassuring is the limited access to guns and appreciation for a slower pace of life. Simpler is the new life his family leads. Exciting is the prospect of sharing his sunset years beneath a vibrant painted sky, conversing with diverse peoples from diverse lands, holding the hand of his beloved.

So with all due respect to the friends and the family that I love, I must confess that I am not torn between two lands or confused about what I want for my future. My heart is not divided by land and sea. Barbados is my home for the foreseeable future. It is where I live. It is where I thrive. It is where I belong.

The Unintentional Nomad

Original image credit: Spoonflower

As I sit here in a hotel room outside of Atlanta, my head spins. Sure, I may still be recovering from the madness that is JCPenney on Gray Thursday, but my disorientation began long before yesterday. Last week my parents and I found out that we would need to return temporarily to the U.S. to take care of some things. My emotions were mixed, but then the anticipation of seeing friends and doing some clearance shopping made the idea of a last-minute pilgrimage more enticing. For every stunning and star-studded event I would miss in the warmth of Barbados, surely an afternoon lunch with a gentleman friend or a night out on the town with high school buddies would make up the difference. I thought that perhaps I would be able to spend a few days released from the perpetual mental challenge that is caregiving and have a little millennial holiday fun.

But of course, my days have not been spent on lunch dates with dapper Dans and my evenings have not involved getting turnt at the club. I’ve shared how my fair-weather attempt at shopping went. My caregiving duties have been magnified under the illumination of instability. Even attending church on Sunday looks like a possible impossibility. In fact, very few of my tokens of contentment for this unexpected return have come to pass. Any opportunity I saw for fulfilling these pipe dreams seems to be slipping from my fingers as we just found out that we will be making yet another journey the early part of next week.

Some people thrive on the adventure of unpredictable travel and would love to have such a hectic schedule. I question whether I am one of these people. I thought I could be, but in just a few short weeks I am beginning to realize that I am not a nomad. While I love seeing new places and meeting new people, relationships are my oxygen. I need roots. I need to connect and develop and grow.

We’ve all heard it said that home is where the heart is. But what do you do when your heart is scattered across state lines and oceans?

I guess you learn how to breathe in this new atmosphere. You learn to give more than you take. You spread light wherever you go. You leave your impact on the hearts of everyone you meet, that their roots would be strengthened and their hearts would be filled.

So, as this holiday season gets into full swing and my coordinates are yet to be fully determined, I will do my best to seek out opportunities to make a difference. To shine a light in someone else’s life. To help make their lives rubescent!

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10


Home for the Holidays

Christmas has definitely come early for me this year. I just found out I will be spending Thanksgiving, and possibly Christmas, in Atlanta!

This surprise certainly comes with mixed emotions as I realize that this will mean missing out on some of the awesome events Barbados has to offer this time of year, which also means possibly missing out on opportunities to meet new people.

That being said, I am pretty excited about heading back to the States to get some things taken care of that were hanging in the air when we left with 30 days notice. Just a few of my “hope-tos” for my trip include:

  • Visit our family practitioner to show off my 50+ pound weight-loss
  • Cuddle with my little cousins
  • Spend some time with our church family
  • Hit up H&M, Old Navy, Target, K&G, Ann Taylor Loft, Versona, Cato, and other inexpensive retailers to replenish my wardrobe for my new size on the cheap (I still have 15ish pounds to go)
  • Hit up COSTCO to purchase toiletries and non-perishables in bulk
  • Go for coffee at Land of 1000 Hills
  • …music at Java Monkey or Eddie’s Attic
  • Ormsby’s for libations and games
  • Avalon for festive fun
  • …and anything else my crazy friends cook up.

Initially, I had very mixed emotions about this return visit. I wasn’t sure how I felt about revisiting some difficult situations. My family relocated under very stressful circumstances and I realize that I allowed that stress to adversely affect some of my dearest relationships. I cannot regret the way I left things because so much was beyond my control; regret would lead to guilt and I refuse to live my life that way. But I certain wondered if I was ready to reopen old wounds and considered how I might cope with the change.

I also cannot help but acknowledge the current state of affairs in the United States and the global community. African-Americans and allies of all races are in a continuous state of protest against police brutality and inequality. Though not physically present in the country, the tragedy is not lost on my conscious. Perhaps more now than ever before, I make it my mission to “stay woke,” constantly educating myself and adding my voice to the discussion on race relations in America. The reality is that where two or more races exist, there is racism. Even on a predominately black island in the Caribbean, discrimination is very real. But, as I explained in a previous post, the fear of being shot because someone feels threatened by my blackness simply is not there. Soon, we will return to a land where this is a very real possibility.

In addition to the unsettling realities of home, there is so much pain globally. The Thanksgiving season is always a hectic time for travelers, even more so when dealing with tragedies like the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Paris and Nigeria within the last week, not to mention continuing unrest and persecution in the Middle East and other tribulations worldwide. I, for one, am not afraid to fly. None of us knows what tomorrow may hold and it is foolhardy to believe any of us is exempt from terrible things that take place in life. The reason I am unafraid is because I know that no matter what happens, I know how the story ends. I know that at the end of the day, my soul is saved in Christ Jesus. He died on a cross so that when I die, as we all eventually will, I do not have to worry about what will happen to me or where I will go. It is through God’s grace that I get to escape the terror and the pain of this world and trade it all in for eternal peace and everlasting joy. I praise God that I can take comfort in this fact and travel with peace in my heart.

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:76-77

I wish everyone reading this a very Happy Thanksgiving and pray that you and your loved ones are wrapped in peace, comfort, and joy.

I Am a Woman. I Am Enough.

A little while ago, a wonderful quote by Amy Poehler went viral.

Amy Poehler quote
Original Image Credit: Women & Girls Foundation

This message really resonated with me because it describes how I feel about my dearest friends. Our love for one another is fierce and aggressive. We encourage each other to be our best selves. We admire one another’s gifts and talents. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost sight of the importance of these kinds of relationships.

When I first announced to friends, family, and church family that we would be relocating to Barbados, everyone exclaimed that I was going to come back with a man! One woman at our church even told me she received a word from the Lord that I would marry a wealthy white man who would take me to Europe and that we would eventually return to the States. I found this all fairly amusing, but I also wanted to tell people this is real life, not a chick flick. I am going to Barbados to lead a normal, everyday life, not to find a man to complete me. My name is not Stella and I don’t need to get my groove back.

Among my social group, the last few months have been very active in the world of romance. Not for me, of course. But for many of my friends and family members. There have been new relationships, proposals, weddings, and even a couple bundles of joy. And I am happy. Truly, genuinely happy that so many people in my life have found someone awesome with whom they want to share their lives.

That said, at 31 years young, I certainly have moments where I feel as though I am being left out of some major movement. I see the blissfully joyous pictures on social media and listen to my girlfriends speak dreamily of their betrothed. I congratulate them and do my best to celebrate with them because I want everyone in my life to be happy. But, as with so many single adults who hope to find someone special with whom to spend their lives, it is sometimes tempting to think Why not me? and Woe is me!

But you know what? After three decades on this beautiful earth, my attitude is changing. My song has gone from sorrow to substance. Lonesome to lovely. Empty to empowered. I am discovering my true worth as a woman and I finally can say that I am beginning to understand the importance of feminism.

Of course I believe in political and economic equality between women and men. That one is kind of a no-brainer. But I believe women’s rights are so much more than that. I think feminism is having the audacity to realize that as a female person, I am enough. As women, we are whole and complete beings, whether or not we are partnered with a significant other.

I have always touted the idea of completeness and autonomy as a woman, but I don’t know if I actually believed it, deep within my soul. Obviously, we are all socialized to meet the Yin to our Yang, fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after. And don’t get me wrong – all of those things are beautiful. And if we marry for the right reasons, terrific. But, if anyone enters into a relationship because they believe they are somehow incomplete, there is something profoundly wrong with that decision.

Since moving to Barbados, several locals have told me that I am a lovely young lady, deserving of an equally lovely young man. This lovely sentiment is almost always followed by an audible sigh, and a disappointing explanation as to why I will not find such a young man here on the island.

When I shared these awkward little anecdotes with one of my best friends, her reaction surprised me. She was outraged. Absolutely appalled by the idea that people were so concerned with my romantic life, refusing to see me as a whole individual with varied interests and talents. Her frustration turned into praise as she reminded me of how smart I am and how much I have to offer the world.

I found myself agreeing with her statements and fired up by her fury.

am talented! I am creative! Yes, I am beautiful. I also have interests and goals and dreams and aspirations and…

I have so many amazing people – including strong and powerful women – who believe in me! And my circle of support grows exponentially every day. From my oldest and dearest friends and family members to perfect strangers with whom I’ve connected via social media. They are all rallying around me, saying

We see what you’re doing. We understand what you’re about. Your voice has value. Let’s go change the world!

So to anyone reading this blog post – especially my fierce females – please hear me when I say that you are important and valued. You are whole and complete. You have so much to offer. You can make a difference. You are enough!

Let’s go change the world!

Waiting Room Greetings

Doctor’s office waiting rooms: the homes of the polite, awkward nods of recognition as patients enter and exit. We sit, thumb through dated copies of People, Ebony, and Better Homes & Garden, drink bitter Folgers. One patient rarely converses with the other beyond mundane chit-chat about the weather or the absurdly long wait. Unless of course you are in a waiting room in Barbados.

Waiting Room

I have had the privilege of visiting several medical practices in the last 9 weeks and consistently noticed the most peculiar thing: people carry on full blown conversations in the waiting room!

I know; my mind was blown too. When someone enters the room, they acknowledge all who are present with a friendly greeting. But the greeting does not end at “good afternoon.” Many continue on to ask how everyone is doing, seemingly genuinely interested in each response. The answers people give often determine the course of the conversation, which is carried on until the next person is called for their appointment.

Once, while waiting for a visit with a specialist, a warm, glowing woman entered the room and greeted all of us with a friendly “How are you?” The other patients and myself all responded with an equally cordial well or fine. “And you?” I responded. “Blessed,” the woman replied. The next piece of discourse was surprising, as she asked if I too was blessed. “Yes. Very much so,” I told her with a smile.

As a friendly yet guarded individual, I did not offer any additional information about how blessed I am, why I am blessed, or how those blessings came to be. This was not the case for my new medical office BFF. She had an awful lot to be blessed about and was very eager to share with the captive audience.

I cannot remember all of the things for which this woman was very grateful. And frankly, it does not matter. What does matter is the fact that her courage and willingness to share has impacted me. She reminded me how important it is that we gladly share the good things going on in our lives, whether grand or simple. Her desire to spread her joy with unsuspecting strangers is encouraging because we forget how important that is.

We interact with people every day and never know anyone’s full story. We never know when telling someone our own personal story of hope, sharing some good news, just may change or save a life. It is for this reason that we cannot allow our own fears and insecurities about what people may think or how they may react keep us from telling our stories.

It is no esoteric fact that this world is filled with sadness and negativity. By remaining silent about our triumphs, keeping our hope to ourselves, we do the entire world a disservice. As a Christian, I am called to share not only the fact that my hope is in Christ Jesus, but also why I have that hope and how that hope is manifested in my everyday life.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:15-16

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
1 Peter 3:15

In my mind, I often criticize people who seem only to complain about their problems or the people they don’t like. When I hear stories of Internet trolls and schoolyard bullies, my heart truly aches. My long-time motto is the old adage: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” While I believe this cliché saying can help people avoid negativity, it does nothing to add joy to anyone’s life. Therefore, I suggest the following edit to this idea:

If you can’t say anything nice, think harder.

This Rubescent Life was born out of a desire to capture my expatriate experience, but I also want this blog to be a source of light for those whose outlook on life may be dark. I want to encourage and inspire readers to live, learn, and grow from all of their experiences in life. But I don’t want the encouragement to stop there. It is important that I set an example of freely expressing one’s faith, joy, and hope –loving the people of the world with complete abandon. One story at a time.

Going Off the Grid

No WifiGood News: We found a great house in a really wonderful neighborhood.

Frustrating News: Because many services do tend to run on the infamous island time, the struggle is real. We have no idea when our cable and Internet service will be installed. Although I have an iPhone with a hotspot, I need to have my phone unlocked and a SIM card installed in order to gain cell service.

So, be not alarmed. I’m fine. Just a bit technologically disconnected.


If Life Is A Stage

…then we are stars in the cast.”
– Adrian Greene, Spoken Word Artist, Barbados
(as inspired by William Shakespeare)

Crop Over Banner
Crop Over 2015

This weekend marked two grand historical and cultural celebrations for the Nation of Barbados! Emancipation Day and Grand Kadooment all wrapped up the flavorful and colorful tradition that is Crop Over. A federal holiday and a three-day weekend – we enjoyed every moment of it!

The major partying began in the wee hours of Saturday morning with Foreday Morning Jam. This late night parade brings out revelers covered in mud and body paint. They “jump up,” or dance along the highway, grooving to the sounds of soca artists like Peter Ram. Something that makes this event unique is the fact that the activity began at 2 A.M. Thankfully, we were warned of the goings-on prior to the start of the jam, because we were awakened by strange sounds and beats coming from the street above. Although it was slightly disorienting at first, by the 5th loop or so, the music simply began to weave itself into my dreams, impressing upon me the fact that I truly was in a new world.

The next afternoon, we arose and prepared for the day. A little sleep deprived and very excited, we did not quite know what to expect when we ventured down the street and around the corner to the Bridgetown Market. Although the market is within walking distance from our current temporary residence, we spoke to the awesome police and Sargent Giddons kindly granted us permission to drive down to one of the vendor parking lots so that we would not have to push my mother’s wheelchair quite so far.

Once we arrived on location, our senses were assaulted by the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels of Crop Over. Loud speakers all tuned to the same radio station all tuned into the same station lined the streets every 100 yards or so. Between the rhythmic coverage of the festivities, formal vendors and local farmers hawked everything from bubble machines to ackee fruit.

We strolled along Spring Garden Highway, soaking up the spirit and essence of the people of Barbados, when our walk was abruptly interrupted by a group of drummers followed by persons draped in stunning West African garb. They looked to be having a great time, so we followed them!

Left: Adrian Green, Spoken Word Artist
Middle: National Cultural Foundation Right: Soul Lion, Music Artist

The drummers lead us to a stage where artistic interpretations educated, entertained, and empowered us! The masters of ceremony shared the oral history of how Barbadian slaves revolted against British slave owners and revitalized their West African culture, incorporating West Indian and British traditions to create something anew!

After the playing of the Barbados National Anthem, the corporate recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, thorough education on how Barbados came to be, we listened to spoken word artist Adrian Green graced us with poetic justice. Then, Lion Soul roared in pain over the current state of racial, social, and economic affairs the world over.

Chattel House Artifacts
Upper Left: Doll. Upper Right: Beauty supplies. Lower Right: Singer sowing machine. Lower Left: Tools.

While listening to the piercing voices of Mr. Green and Lion Soul, I toured a chattle house, and felt a surprising connection to Barbados as I recognized the artifacts on display from my own American history. Turn of last century beauty supplies, tools, and toys helped me understand the strong historical ties to the United States through the narrative of slavery. This display helped me realize, I’m not so different from native Barbadians after all.

“Welcome to Your New Home…

…you are officially Bajan now.”

This is what one the men who drives for my father’s company said to us while taking us home from our first visit to the famous Oistins Bay Garden & Fish Fry. This spot is the place to be in Barbados on a Friday night. Everyone gathers at multiple restaurants that share space in the market. Everyone is seated at picnic tables, enabling visitors and locals alike to mingle and lime with one another.

Oistins, Hastings, Barbados
Oistins, Hastings, Barbados

We met people from all over the world! Northern Africa, England… South Carolina, Illinois. Okay, maybe we it wasn’t exactly a mock United Nations. But it was still really neat to chat with locals and foreigners alike. Which lead me to ask myself: am I a foreigner or a local?

While Barbados is my new “home” for the foreseeable future, I certainly cannot say I feel like a Bajan just yet. Undoubtedly, adopting a new country as your home takes time. A lot of time. But in the short amount I’ve time I’ve spent here, the socially anxious part of my brain cannot help but ask the typical “who, what, when, where, and why” of transition.

Who will be my friend?
What will they be like?
When will I meet them?
Where will I meet them?
Why would they want to be my friend?

It appears as though the people of Barbados, from a very preliminary perspective, seem to fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Native black Bajan
  2. Native white Bajan
  3. Native Indian Bajan
  4. Wealthy European expat
  5. Wealthy American expat
  6. Wealthy expat from another nation
  7. Me.

Now, as an educated woman with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, I understand the danger of making sweeping generalizations. Surely Barbadians are a diverse people with a rich history and a deep well of subcultures representing vast peoples. That being said, as a formerly bullied kid coming from being a minority in a very racially homogeneous society, when I do not see a the proverbial Isle of Misfit Toys on which to plant my freak flag, I tend to panic.

I promised myself that Barbados would be a new start for me. Not just in terms of new experiences, but a new way of thinking. I want to open my mind to the idea that I do not need to conform to anyone else’s standards in order to be liked. I will not head for the bottom of the barrel, assuming the socially inept is my appointed lot in life.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Of course, I will always welcome the weirdos and the “least of these” – this is my tribe! But I refuse to pigeonhole myself into prescribed identities in an effort to steady the boat. I want to rock the boat, paintbrush full of red acrylic in hand!

So Barbados, I am trying out my new mindset on your beautiful people. I have great hopes that rise to the occasion and allow me to engage with your best and brightest, strangest and awkward-est… Allow me to learn you and celebrate you and become a part of you.

May your vibrant parrots tickle me and your little green monkey cause me to laugh. Allow your beaches to calm my harried soul, your forests to leave me in awe.

Allow me to make myself at home.