My Two Cents

Many of the President’s opponents seem to be wishing for a terrorist attack just to say that Obama is weak on national security.  They get excited when the unemployment figures go up, and are happy to report the stock market went down.  Do these people really love America?  If I remember correctly, not one but two underground nuclear tests were conducted by North Korea.  What did the Republican President do about that threat?  Nothing.  Oh!  I’m sorry, they issued a very strongly worded statement to the Koreans.  Because this President prefers to use more diplomacy in his approach to national security, they call that naïve and weak.  What should the President do? Should he start a third war by attacking North Korea?  They complain about everything the president does, he either over reacted or did not respond quick enough; he did too little or too much, he went too big or too small; whatever the president does is never good enough.  There is always something else he should have done.  I can understand the republican’s pain; At lease they know how I felt during the Bush eight years in office.  America finally has a President who does not have a superiority we rule the world complex.  He can speak in ways the common man can understand.  He sees America as part of the world not the rulers of it.

Life without a plan

Me an my baby

 

In September I quietly went to another dealer, this time with a deposit in hand and was able to secure a lease.  Denise and I invited Nneka home to spend the night at our new town house to surprise her.  I took the Scion to work of course so she would no see it.  Unfortunately I should have kept Denise in the dark also because she cannot keep a secret.  Denise opened the dresser draw and allowed Nneka to get a glimpse of the spare Scion keys.  Even though she saw the keys there was still some doubt, or perhaps disbelief that we actually bought her a car.  Denise had the video camera ready as I pulled into the driveway.  As I opened the door Nneka was coming down the stairs and saw the car in the driveway.  What happen next will warm the heart of any parent.  The scream of excitement and she did not know if to dance or jump of joy.  The spectacle could only be seen in order to grasp the true euphoria of the moment which mere words cannot describe.  I wish we could make her feel that happy everyday.  She hugged me so tight I started to choke.  She then planted the biggest kiss I’ve gotten to date on my cheek on my forehead and all over my face to the point where I had to beg her to stop.  The last time I saw her so happy is when the St. Matthews Children Choir went on a road trip to sing at a church in Virginia.  She had missed out on several other excursions with the children her age.  This time she and Denise were going on the trip.  When she woke up and looked through her bedroom window to see the bus in the church parking lot, Nneka went into a panic.  We had to calm her down and reassure her that the bus would not leave without her.  When we finally got dressed and went out the front door, Nneka ran down the street screaming at the top of her voice.  Our calls to wait and stop went unnoticed  All we could do is laugh at the sight.  Nneka was anxious to take a test drive around the block to check out her new Scion.  It is one of those moments that is frozen in my mind.

The American Dream

We ended up getting a driver who happened to have a stretch Limo to top off our vacation.  Life could be so unpredictable at times, you always have to be prepared for the twist and turns.  Who would ever think that we missed the first Christmas in our new home.  We were unable to experience the joy of lighting our fireplace or setting up the Christmas tree and stringing lights.  We had to make up for lost time by buying logs and opening a bottle of wine someone had given to us.   I sat on the floor in the living room reflecting on our whirlwind year.  Last December 30 I was led away in handcuffs from my apartment to spend the night in jail.  It was a moment that threatened the future of my home and marriage.  One year later, I became a legal resident, went to the million man march, purchased a home, went back to Trinidad for a much-needed vacation and I’m now sitting in front of my fireplace sipping a glass of wine.  Wow!  What a year it has been.  We have a lot for which to be thankful.  The weather report was forecasting a huge snow storm coming our way.  The New Year was going to welcome us with a slap to the face.

Coming to America

The first challenge for me on the job was the time it snowed.  My first snow storm came late on a Saturday evening.  I needed to have the sidewalks cleared by 8:00 am for the morning service.  Compounding my challenge is the fact that the church was situated on a corner, it had several entrances, with no snow blower available at the time.  It was my first time shoveling snow so I doubled my clothing, making sure I was properly protected and ready.  I managed to clear everything by midnight because the snow was like fresh power but it was still falling and continued to accumulate.  I got some rest before resuming the task around 4:00 am.  After shoveling for about 45 minutes on my second go around, I was taking frequent breaks to stay warm.  I stopped and looked at the enormity of the task ahead of me, I was tired, hungry, sleepy and very cold.  I wondered for a moment, how warm it was back home in the islands.   I thought of our friends we left behind, the jobs we both abandoned and all of our precious wedding gifts we sold or had given away for the so-called American dream.  I tried to evaluate if it was all worth it.  This was the second time those thoughts came to my mind.  The first time I was walking the streets of Brooklyn entering stores and other businesses looking for work.  Sometimes I would walk in look around and walk back out, afraid, sometimes intimidated to speak to anyone.  They all required a green card or a social security number along with other forms of ID which I did not have.  Tears of frustration would gather but not enough to fall, as I walked aimlessly block after block thinking about my family back in Trinidad.  Every time I called Denise, she would encourage me to stick it out because we’ve invested too much to turn back.  It was much easier said than done.  “What the hell am I doing in this place?”  I murmured to myself as I looked around me, there was not another soul in sight at that hour in the morning.  It was just me, lots of hidden snow-covered sidewalk, and my shovel.

Married Life

When there was no more that we could do, the best man, the bride’s brother, and I decided to head on home.  There was no wild bachelor’s party waiting for me for sure.  It never crossed my mind but it would have been a nice surprise.  We were cruising down a clear highway around 10:30pm before we got to the local streets.  I stopped at the intersection to enter the Couva main road and watched a slow-moving vehicle pass in front of us.  We turned right behind them before I accelerated to pass.  As I pulled to the right to overtake the vehicle, the driver of the other car suddenly pulled to the right to avoid a pot hole and ended up directly in front of me.  There was no time to react.  I crashed into the back of his car and watch him wobbled out of control before stopping.  The impact was hard but fortunately we were going in the same direction.  I pulled behind 

June 1st 1986

 

him and got out of the car to survey the damage which was minor.  I inquired if anybody was hurt, fortunately, everyone was ok.  Three East Indian men got out of the car.  It was immediately clear that they were all drunk.  We decided to exchange information with the purpose of settling the matter some other time.  The other driver became belligerent so we agreed to report the accident to the police department, which was half mile further down the road.  On our arrival to the station, we met a big dude at the front desk who was about 6’ 3” 250 lbs.  The driver started talk out of turn in an argumentative way.  The officer asks him to stop interrupting several times but the alcohol was having a negative effect.  When the officer got tired of trying to get him to cooperate, he leaned over the counter grabbed the man by his shirt with his left hand pulled him towards the counter and gave him a hard slap in his face.  Everyone froze in shocked silence.  His two buddies backed away from the counter, and so did I.  When the man regained his balance, he looked at the officer and said, “So you slapped me huh.”  He then said “Ok,” walked away with his two buddies, got into their car and drove off.  We all looked at each other in silent disbelief.  The officer then took a report about the incident from me with a promise to return after my honeymoon if it was necessary.  We got home a little after midnight to a quiet home with no surprises.  The reality of the three of us, the groom, the best man, and the bride’s brother, being involved in an accident was nothing but the devil’s last grasp to stop our wedding.  I realize now, how fortunate we were to be alive.  I could have easily pulled to the right and wrap the car around a light pole.  My Nissan 120Y had no air bags or seat belts at the time

Living Single

At Home Annabelle St.

A friend living in the building behind me came by with the news that her sister was in the hospital very ill due to a botch abortion.  She was pregnant with twins.  This is the same sister I met a few months ago who had issues with her boyfriend, and was spending time with the family in Couva.  She used every opportunity to poke fun at me whenever I was over at their house.  I attended a block party on the other street and joined in conversation with her and some other friends.  The party was lame so we walked back home together.  Instead of taking the path to her house, she kept walking and followed me to my building.  The night was still young so we sat on my front step talking for about an hour in what I would call innocent conversation.  She then asked to use my bathroom.  As naïve as I was, I obviously must have over looked her flirting.  When she came out of the bathroom I saw her peeping into my bedroom being nosey.  I startled her when I asked, “did you find what you were looking for?”  She laughed nervously with guilt.  I held her by the waste and gently pulled her towards me and kissed her lips.  I then guided her into the bedroom where we spent the next two hours together.  I think it was the weekend before I broke my leg, when she came by to inform me that she was pregnant with twins.  I didn’t think anything of it because I knew she was living with someone.  Hey, I said, “congratulations!”  The fact that her sister was now giving me this personal piece of information suggested to me that those twins were mine.  I asked her some question just to get some information and make sure she was going to be ok.  I found out she was in the hospital for a long time and barely pull through.  I told her sister that I did not know what to say and wish there was something I could do.  She said that she thought I should know.

Life On The Block

 

Scrunty and Patrick

My first encounter with smoking weed was sometime around my 18th birthday.  Kurt, my friend who migrated about five years ago came back to Trinidad for a visit.  One evening he told me that he had a joint but did not want to smoke it at home.  We went for a walk in Lange Park pass the secondary school.  He lit the joint and we both took turns smoking  it.  I would take a pull and quickly handed the joint back to him.  When we were almost finished, I realized we were nervously walking at a very fast pace.  “Why are we walking so fast,” he asked.  “I don’t know,” was my reply.  We had a good laugh at our awkwardness.  I couldn’t figure what the big deal was with weed because I felt nothing from the experience.  I explained this to Scrunty, Pippen, and Kenny a few weeks after Kurt had returned to the U.S.  As we sat on the corner of Robinson and Marc street, talking about current events, the joint was passed around several times.  In the midst of one of several debates, it suddenly occurred to me, I busted out Yoooo! Everyone looked at me with keen, attentiveness, thinking I had some profound piece of revelation to add to the discussion, but instead, I declared that “I’m high mannn.”  They all cracked up laughing.  “Yo, I feel real cool man, now I’m hungry like a mug.”  They had some fun at my expense repeating my declaration.   So I walked to the corner and bought a quarter pound of freshly roasted cashew nuts from Mr. Pierre and a cold Carib beer.  They later explained that the munchies were a common side effect of smoking weed.  I was very selective with whom I smoked afterwards.  They were the guys who were protective for me and would warn me of any dangers.  They had my back and treated me like a little brother.  It wasn’t long before I was making the trek to the man on the block for my own purchases.

Excerpts were taken from my book "I Can't Believe I'm Fifty" for discussion.

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