“I exist in two places, here and where you are”. – Margaret Atwood
So much of our life seems to happen in moments of waiting: sweating while a bus fills with passengers, nervously going over what you want to say before your big presentation, looking out the window as the raindrops fall, knowing your plans will be canceled before they even occur. But in these moments of waiting, we reflect, strengthening our self-awareness so that we can go out into the world and share our story with others. Reflection makes possible connection.
On the ride to church, I quietly look out upon the open vista of clouds playing tag with the mountains below. I put up my hair and lean my face towards the window to catch a breeze as I sit on the hot, gray fabric. I wait to arrive at church, to sing, to pray, to listen, and to have my thoughts wander lazily like a desultory conversation among old friends. On the ride back, however, I talk to my family, joke, and discuss the sermon or songs sung. As I play with my hair, I listen as my family kisses their teeth* or tells me, “Yu nah easy” which I generally take to mean that I’m willful.
The ride back home from church is loud, vivacious, full of the moments that connect people, while the ride there is quiet, meditative, full of the moments that connect you to your thoughts. I need both these kinds of moments in my life in Jamaica; I need to breathe before I can laugh, to know myself before I can know others.
As an itinerant storyteller, I am comfortable with change, with movement, with ambiguity, but in relationships, you need to build comfort one conversation at a time; each story you share brings you a little closer to theirs. I reflect so that I can connect, so that I can share my story with others. What good is my story if there are no ears to hear it? So when I wave my hands, widen my eyes as they look into yours, and tell you, laughing, how I almost lost a herd of goats on the steppes of Mongolia, I do it because I can’t wait to quietly smile as you tell me a story that will bring us yet closer.
*kiss your teeth: to purse your lips and make a sucking noise when you’re judging something or someone