Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lights through the Fog

One cool evening in New York City, I turned a corner.  In the ordinary world, it was (geographically) a historic street in Brooklyn: Clermont Avenue.  I was far away from the soft village lights of Antigua, Caribbean, but so close to Home, with a capital "H"--that place where "family" (in the broad Caribbean sense of the word) reside. 

My landlord was from Trinidad.  The aromas from my kitchen and his blended seamlessly.  The occasional dish was shared.  The humor, the music, the connectedness--endless.  

Yet, for several months prior to this night, I would turn the corner onto my beloved Clermont Avenue with one thought in mind--keep your head down.  Brace yourself against the cold, the hard, the unfair, the cruel, the "winter" of this frightening place. 

My landlord was not to blame; my work was not a culprit; my health was holding up remarkably well; and so was my figure (a woman's vanity was not beyond me).  Still, I couldn't hold my head up--and it was not because I'd been immoral.  I was quite proud of my contributions--charity, a listening ear, the friend who cooked and settled feuds with music, folklore, humor and a willingness to let others sit on my sofa--sleep, eat, cry, complain and come back to clarity.

So, why on this night did I not want to look up, strut, smile, showcase my adult fascination with the marvelous life I'd created out of childhood poverty and trauma?  Before I could answer the question for myself, at perhaps the ninth step onto my home-block, a voice in "non-ordinary" reality said "Look Up!"  On a night when NYC was experiencing an unusual wave of dense fog, and I, a long-held period of personal fog, I looked up, then way up. 

Behind buildings, far into the Manhattan skyline, I knew why I had been asked to, "LOOK UP!"  Because it was there; well, they were there--two tall beams of vertical light, extending through dense fog, so much so that the edges blurred into infinity.  The twin towers that were my Manhattan beacon from my bedroom window were tranformed.  I had the thought -- from "Zero to God."  

At times, there is a dark, dense fog in the tougher times we experience and it can be difficult to look up.   For many of us--certainly myself, I can say that the "family" of my Caribbean friends and close relatives have made it impossible for me to stay stuck at a personal zero.   I can say the same for my "family" of friends--those I've made more Caribbean with a dish and a story and those who've made me more Jewish, Christian, American, French, Latin, German, "foreign" with a drink and a word of connection/shared laughter.

For them and for you, I re-dedicate my poem "Night Light: Ode to Bolans Village, Antigua--HOME"

May you come to a place, always in your joy and in your difficulties where you find the capital "H" of Home--even if it's just a moment on our Facebook pages, a story on the blog.

In Global Community,
Monique S. Simon
Project Director/Chief Folklorist

 block!Lights through the Fog

Order Caribbean Posters, Photographs, Paintings & Prints