I am studying communications at the University of Phoenix Online and the course I am currently in is dealing with interpersonal communications. This week, we will be dealing specifically with cultural barriers to interpersonal communication. One of the week’s resources is to watch a series of interviews with people from different cultures talking about their integration into the community the now live in and how it differs from what they call “home” originally. One of those videos is the inspiration for my post today.
I posted this photo on my Google+ profile today. My post said that I’d forgotten what awesome photos I used to take and I said where this photo was taken. Years and what seems like a lifetime ago, I took this photograph on the coast of Jamaica, on the Palisadoes strip, just outside of the Norman Manley International Airport. The photo is from a different time in my life. I was my own woman then and no one else’s. I had already met hubby I think, but the relationship at that point was not yet formalized into anything other than a fascination. Neither of us had any clue we would end up where we are today.
The day I took the photo, I was out with friends on a fishing expedition. If I remember correctly, this was the day I caught my first fish. A tiny little thing that I threw back in almost immediately so that it would be able to breathe and continue to live. I was a hardcase. People called me “bitch”. But I could not catch a fish and let it die.
I worked in the corporate world and I earned enough to be comfortable on my own. Internet was a staple. I had ditched my TV cable service a couple of years before because I rarely watched TV and anything I wanted to watch I could get on disc and watch from my player. Or just watch on my computer.
There was no such thing as worrying about credit ratings. You paid your bills so that you would not have a disruption of service. You tried not to get into too much debt because banks charged exorbitant interest rates on credit cards. Debit cards had recently (within the previous 10 years, that is) become the latest convenience yet quite a few merchants still did not accept your debit card for purchases.
Cell phones plans could be had on a prepaid basis and all cell phones available were sold at a subsidized rate. Phones were “locked” to a network because that network had possibly invested money in importing your phone and wanted to ensure they got your money from calls as well as. “Unlocking” of phones was possible, but only if you wanted to travel abroad and slip a foreign carrier’s SIM card into your phone whilst you were abroad.
The beach was taken for granted. It would always be there, so I didn’t feel the need to visit it that often. Every chance I got, however, I drove north out of the city just for the hell of it. There was nothing I loved more than a road trip to the countryside – especially if it took me into the cool interior of the country.
Coconut water was most certainly not taken for granted. I would order a gallon a week and it would be finished in a matter of days.
Life was good. I wasn’t happy, but I was satisfied.
Fast forward 6 years. I am sitting in my “office” – the middle bedroom of a 3 bedroom house – in Olympia, Washington. It’s freezing outside. We had some snow today – the kind that is really just frozen rain but it looks white. Hubby lit the wood stove twice today but the house is still cold. I am wrapped in a blanket, doing schoolwork at 4am and writing – something I would never have dared to do in Jamaica since Monday morning meant work at 8am. Now, to go to work, I simply have to open a browser window.
We are bound by the military. Well hubby is. I can leave for Jamaica anytime I want; hubby can’t. Even if he could, it just isn’t in the budget. Contrary to popular belief, money does not grow on trees here – much to my consternation.
There is no coconut water. Well, none like I have ever tasted anyway. The ones I have sampled are bland and tasteless and no matter how good it is for my now soaring blood pressure, I refuse to drink them.
There is no beach of the likes we have in Jamaica. No such thing as gentle surf, white sands, coconut water and blue waters. Here, the beaches are grey and rough and freezing cold.
Here you pay your bills or you’ll never get another credit card, loan, or checking account ever again.
Cell phones are subsidized so long as you commit to 2 year agreements to continue service with the carrier … otherwise you pay an exorbitant amount of money to go somewhere else.
I am ecstatically happy but life is much different from it was in Jamaica; more restrictive.
Americans don’t know how to make you feel at home in their country. There are constant reminders that I am not from here and while I could care less about those who choose to hold that against me, it is still something you will never have to encounter as a Jamaican in Jamaica. I tell everyone the reason why I love Washington so much, and in particular the Seattle/Tacoma area, is that I feel less out-of-place here than I have felt in any other place in the United States – and I have been to many places in New York, D.C., Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Maryland. Here, I feel less like a black girl married to a white man and more like Camille than I have since I left my home in Jamaica.
‘Farin’ not so wonderful unless you can find that one thing (or person) who makes you happy. If it weren’t for hubby, I think I’d be on the first plane back home to Jamaica. I hate the heat, but I hate feeling out-of-place more.