It's difficult, as a person who understands privilege, to share my trauma with having been taken from my country. I feel pain when I think about the memories I missed out on, the friendships frozen in time and the funerals and celebrations that I can never be a part of. My mobility was, admittedly, one of my greatest gifts and an amazing toolbox for future jobs and interactions. It has also been one of my greatest traumas.
Added to the sadness is the fact that I find my country to be in this limbo- a place that is not safe for me to travel to. My grandmother's house, with my hand prints in the pavement, next to my brother's and my cousins'; with it's wrap around porches and pomegranate bushes and avocado tree that goes through a hole in the roof; with the patio that has seen way too many drinks and firework displays; it sits in a cloud where some random person leases the rooms and destroys my memories. I remember a man knocking on the metal gate and asking me to get my grandma. She would run out with Tupperware containers and buy fresh made cheese that he carried around in 5 gallon buckets of water (like I would imagine a tofu salesman would do). I remember the bells of the ice-cream cart walking up the street and getting the blue and purple ice cream with the gum ball at the bottom that was always way to hard to check on immediately when you got to it. I remember, I remember, I remember. I am robbed of ever seeing that again. I am robbed by a government that has stolen money, food, hope, pride and memories. And I mourn that loss daily and painfully. I am familiar with that loss.
It was not until recently that I saw my pain reflected in black eyes in ways that opened mine. I sat eagerly watching Erica Hart in anticipation of her speach on the desexualization of cancer patients. She opened with an introduction. I'm Erica Hart", she says. She says "I'm black". The crowd laughs. She says, she feels the need to tell us she is black because she comes from a slave family. She is black. She does not know where her heritage is from, she does not know her culture. All she knows is that she is black. It hits me hard in the stomach like a mouthful of home-made cheese.
She is also homeless.
She is the type of homeless that was robbed, not by a government, but by a generation. An entire ecosystem of people selling each other, buying each other, no possibility of escaping when the enemy hid in plain clothes and said all of the right things. Our world stole a chance for heritage and tradition. She was robbed of any redemption of those memories. Of the smell of her home. Or the stories of her forefathers. Everything she has are the stories of abuse and torture that her grandparents and great grandparents had no choice but to endure. And how is it that an entire culture of people don't recognize that when we look at black people of slave ancestry? Why is this not what we are being taught- to recognize the trauma that exists from roots having been cut from under trees that are still planted, that are expected to produce fruit and stand through hurricanes. FUCK- that NEED to make fruit, that need to stand stronger than ever. Still need to fight like they were born without some right or to pay for the sins of everyone.
In essense, all of us that have emigrated- with or without choice- are wanderers. We decide what we can pack away and leave exposed, and once in a while, those exposed nerves feel a tinges of pain.
At least I know the place my memories were made in still exists. The spot on the map is something I can point to. And it will be there, whether in glory or in ruins, when it is ready for me and whatever has become of me is ready to go back.