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Friday, December 28, 2012

Imperfect Perfection?




Excess fat, wrinkles and sags that reveal the effects of time.  C-section scars, pot bellies, sun-fried flesh.  Yet, proudly they strut, in bikinis that hang on for dear life.  Wait, she's nearly darn perfect!  Toned arms, legs and wash-board abs.  Strength exudes from her every muscle.  She enters the sea while her husband and infant look on.  But there is only one of her and so many of them.  If this is representative of us - the human race - what does it say about our never-ending quest for perfection?  Is it all futile?  It seems that as a specie, we are more imperfect than we are perfect.  If we are all destined to deteriorate, to fall apart, to get on the moving sidewalk of gradual but consistent decay, why is it so difficult to accept our joint destiny? We can rest assured that on this this journey, we will not feel isolated.  After all, there will be countless fellow travelers with the same destination.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Barbados




Water so intensely blue that you know it could never be replicated in a Crayola factory. The sun, uninhibited by clouds, stings your skin from roughly 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Sand like I've seen nowhere else.  So fine. Mixed in with crystals of pink, or maybe it's red. This is Barbados.  From the moment you step onto the beach, you get the sense that you are stepping into a postcard.  I'll say it again - the colors!  Those astonishing colors.  So unreal.  But they must be real, because my eyes, as well as my other senses suggest that they are.  What do we do first?  We'll be here only for a few days.  All of this beauty is a limited resource, then it's gone and I'm not sure when I'll experience it again.  I sit under an umbrella chair and just take it all in.  It's very early in the morning, and the beach is practically isolated.  A few vendors setting up their stalls.  A lone runner.  A couple of heads in the water that bob up and down to the rhythm of the waves - sort of like the floating balls that help fishermen to locate their fish pots.

I sit back, almost uncomfortably.  I fear that if I get too comfortable, I will take this for granted.  I don't want to take it for granted.  I grew up around great beauty.  I grew up with the Caribbean Sea.  I saw it everyday and after a while, I took it for granted.  It was the reality of my life and I expected it to be there whenever I looked out my window.  Then one day, it wasn't.  I was in a new land and I felt like a part of me was absent.  I wasn't sure what it was, since everything was so new.  My family was far away.  So were my friends and everything that was familiar.  Then as I started to adjust, I dawned on me - the water.  Where is it?  I can't live without it.  I don't want to.  Actually, I can and I have, but it's been difficult.  So here I sit, taking it in and realizing just how lucky I am to be in this moment.  I'm not sure how much time passed.  I sat and my son played in the sand.  He built structures with his new sand bucket.  I so want him to connect to all of this the way that I do.  I want what I hope is his innate islander to emerge.  I want him to feel right at home in this place.  He gets my attention and I join his castle-building endeavors.  Slowly, the beach gets more populated.  I'm a little bit annoyed that I no longer have this all to myself.  But then again, I understand.  I just hope that they appreciate this as much as I do.  Otherwise, they don't deserve to be here.

The shadows of the umbrella had shifted. I am now fully exposed to the stinging of the sun.  I could just get up and move the chair, but I don't want to.  I feel thirsty.  There is only one thing that can satisfy my thirst.  Coconut water.  I'm not sure where I can get some.  I coax my son into coming with me to look for it.  Reluctantly, he follows, but only after I promise that we will return to his construction site soon.  I walk over to the Rastaman sitting under the almond tree. I ask him where I can find some.  He tells me that there is a guy who sells it right here on the beach.  He rotates his head, cranes his neck. He tells me that the coconut man is not here yet.  "How soon do you need it?", he asks.  I want to tell him right now.  It's an emergency.  I've waited a while for this.  Instead, I tell him that I can come back later.  He is curious about me.  He can tell that I'm a fellow islander, but he does not know which island.  He knows I'm not from Barbados. Trinidad?  St. Lucia maybe?  I tell him Dominica.  Well actually, I grew up there.  I was born in Antigua.  My grandfather was from Barbados.  Or so I've heard.  I don't know him.  He died before I was born.  But it does make sense.  After all, my last name is common here in Barbados.  Not Dominica, not Antigua, but Barbados.  He's satisfied with my response.  He smiles at me and welcomes me home.