Sunday, February 24, 2013
For me, it’s a well-worn theme related to the great “who-am-I?” quest. Where is home? What serves at that anchor for me when I need to know that I have a past? The older I get, the more important it is to me to have a place called home. And, while there have been shifts and so forth through the years, “home” really has not ever changed for me.
Some of you will have read my various “Third Culture Kid” (Pt.1 , Pt.2 , Pt.2.5)entries in the past—the story of my moving and traveling around as a child/teenager…and the sense of homeless that has often accompanied that. Even with all the travels and culture ‘basket-turn-over,’ the real place that is home for me is Grenada in the southern Caribbean. I lived seven years of my life there (1975-1982). You may be thinking, “Just seven years??” Well, consider this: Seven years in Grenada is almost twice as long as I have lived anywhere else…ever! Add to that the fact that I spent the most formative years of my life (besides my years in higher education)—we arrived in Grenada when I was entering Standard 5 (5th Grade)…and we left after I finished my ‘O-Levels’ (now known as CXC Exams). So, of all the places I’ve lived, Grenada earns and deserves the distinction of being “home” for me.
I recall arriving in Grenada in 1975. We first rented a small house in Lance aux Epines (say ‘lance a’ peens’) across the road from where Probie, Rachel and Gracie lived. We played with them every day. I remember sitting in the shop at Probie’s house, watching his father repair lawn-mowers… ‘playing’ with all the cool stuff down there…and learning a bit about how small motors worked and how to work on them. The Evans boys were around as well… ‘Mango’ and his brother (sorry, memory fails!). We would sometimes play with the boy up the road whose father was head of Barclay’s Bank? I just remember a huge house with an open courtyard in the center. Past that house is where Clancy lived—the millionaire thief who had escaped to Grenada.
Within a few months, my parents had found a more permanent place for us, and we moved into the Cooke-Yarborough House. It wasn’t far from where we had been living, so we stayed in touch with our first friends, but we also made new friends as well. There was Gregor across the street, a boy from Switzerland who was my age, whose father worked with one of the banks. And, there were the “terrible twins” who I found myself playing with often (in fact, we got caught stealing cigarettes from the Mini-Mart across from The Red Crab at one time…!) Gillian and Trevor lived ‘below’ our house…down the hill, and we ‘enjoyed’ a love-hate relationship, one day playing together, and the next day landing stones on each others’ homes! And, of course, our immediate neighbors—Andrew, Natalie and Alison—became some of our best friends.
Peter lived not too far away, and he would end up over at Andrew’s or they’d all end up in our garage throwing darts, making black coral jewelry, playing table tennis,…or we’d head down to the beach below our house to go snorkeling/spear-fishing, or push the ‘raft’ up and down the coasts of that then-deserted bay.
At school, there were another set of friends. Harold, Anthea, Phillip, Eunice, Samuel, Ronnie, Kennrick, Bobby, Gordon, Audrey, Gillian, Sharleen—we all hung out together. Most of us were in the school band together. Bobby and I just sort of fell in together out of similar interests and a streak of rebellion (ha!) In fact, most of the other students called Bobby and me ‘co-pilots’…because they rarely saw one of us without the other. Most of my “home” friends went to either Westmoreland Secondary School or Presentation Brothers College. So, my home friends and school friends were not the same. That made things a little complex, but it ended up working out fine—all things considered. Anyway, my days at Berean Christian Academy are fondly remembered. In fact, I still think that the preparation I received there really got me ready for university in the US.
My father, “Pastor Herrin”, was the founding missionary of the Grenada Baptist Churches on the island. So, every Sunday morning and every Thursday evening, we were in church…and I had my friends there as well. The “inner circle” included Terrance, Louise and me. The three of us would hang out…go to the beach…sit on the back row during service and pass notes…just ‘lime’ together. We were really close…. There were also Aaron, Hensley, Gladys, and others who were a wonderful part of my life in the church.
In 1978, a big change came along—the organization my parents worked for bought us a house. Still in Lance aux Epines, but now it was across on the south side right across from the entrance to the Boat Yard. There, we soon made friends with Frances at the end of our road…with Karen up on the hill—where one of my early good friends, Richard (Richie), had lived. No longer within easy walking distance of my old friends, I began to spend a lot of time on the beach. Also, I now had ‘wheels’ (my moto), so my friends went beyond walking distance.
Oh, I didn’t abandon my friends on the other side…but I didn’t see them as often.
Somewhere along the way, I befriend George and Fu-Fu who lived in St. Georges…whose family ran businesses in the city. I would meet them on Grand Anse beach…go up to their home for smashing table-tennis competitions…and enjoy the amazing Middle Eastern foods that came out of their kitchen! We planned parties…one of which actually came to fruition—a small dance that included Virginia and Negar and others…. Virginia and her sister, Claudia, also became good friends.
A fellow who graduated from my school and some new students there had motorcycles, so I would cruise the area with Vishnu and the Lawrence boys from time to time, trading motos and racing around.
Yes, my life in Grenada was an amazing life, and I’ve managed to mention the names of many people who impacted my life in wonderful ways. Many of these people are still friends today with whom I exchange notes and comments on Facebook: Natalie, Alison, Rachel, Negar, Virginia, Claudia, Louise, Eunice, Shar, Gordon, Peter, Nigel (one of the ‘terrible twins’ who turned out to be a fairly nice guy! ha, ha…), Fu-Fu, Gillian, Anthea, Aaron, Hensley…and others (who I hope are not offended for not having been mentioned or included—time and space limit me from a full ‘roll-call.’)
In 1982, my parents moved us to the US—a strange and foreign land to me. Since I had finished high school young in Grenada, I did another two years of high school in the US so I would be the same age as others entering university. From those two years of school in the US, I have one—yes, ONE (1)—friend with whom I am still in touch. From the university, I have less than five friends with whom I’m in touch. After three years in Venezuela, perhaps a dozen people with whom I communicate. Three more years in Mexico results in maybe 15-20 lasting friendships.
When I look at my Facebook, I have 96!! friends from or associated with Grenada…people I have met and known and shared my life with over the last 40 years. Some of those are friends of friends that I’ve gotten know more recently, but I almost 70 of those are people that I knew from my early years.
So, yes…Grenada is home for me. I am connected to the people…my best memories are there…and, I might add, my dreams are there. People often ask or consider the question, “If money were no object, what would you do?” For me, I don’t even have to think about it—I’d move to Grenada. Oh, I’d want to remain a teacher, educator…but I’d rather be doing it in Grenada, giving back to the land and the people who gave me so much, who made me who I am today. Yes, ah dey, mon!