Thursday, February 29, 2024

AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH: Holding on to Barbados


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My name is Nicole Harewood and I’m a hotel restaurant reservations clerk. My mum is Dutch and my dad is Bajan. And I’m born and bred Barbadian. I lived in Holland for about five years as a toddler but returned to Barbados as a child and have lived here ever since.  Christ Church is my favourite parish in Barbados. It’s home to me.  I went to Louis Lynch Secondary. It no longer exists.  Going to a city secondary school was ordinary for me because I never went to a country school. I wouldn’t have known the difference.   I have one sister, six years younger than me. My mum moved back to Holland probably 20 years after moving here. My sister went with her. I was of legal age, so I decided to stay here. I was 18. My sister moved back, too, when she came of age. So mum’s pretty much on her own in Holland. I want a family of my own, eventually. I don’t have any kids as yet. I was about seven when my parents separated.  I lived on my own after my mum left. But my dad and I have always pretty much lived in the same neighbourhood. So we see one another on a daily basis. I went straight into the world of work after Louis Lynch Secondary. I’ve been in the hospitality industry since I was about 16. I did do very well in school. But I don’t think I would ever have wanted to go to college or university. I don’t mind doing some courses, but I was done with school, that controlled, uniformed environment. I was ready to do my own thing. I set up my own household at age 18. I shared a home with my boyfriend at the time. We did that for four to five years. And, from there, I moved forward on my own and have been on my own since.  My boyfriend was four-and-a-half years older than me. It worked. It was fun at the time. I have no regrets.  My boyfriend passed away. That was the reason for our parting.  My boyfriend’s death was a terrible blow at the time. But it was a long time ago and now I’m pretty okay with it. I believe life gives us everything, good and bad, for a reason. After my boyfriend’s death, I did turn to God. But on my terms, not society’s. People believe turning to God is going to church every Sunday morning. For me, it was opening my eyes to different feelings, emotions, acceptances. I try to live my life according to that on a day-to-day basis.  I’ve been in a relationship for the last three years, but I still live on my own. Well, with my roommate. She and I have been friends for about eight years. She’s like the big sister I never had. My mother’s white and my dad is black. I’ve always stood out in a crowd, not matter what the crowd. I’ve always felt stuck in the middle.   In teenaged years, interacting with more white people, it was really like not belonging anywhere. As much as you might have a black parent, you’re not black. As much as you might have a white parent, you’re not white. I have come across circumstances where I’ve been cast out by either race. But mostly it’s been pretty normal.  I’m not fixed on a belief in the afterlife, but I am hoping there is some place better than this. I have really good memories and happy moments but, as hard as we work and suffer as human beings, I’m keeping the faith that there is something there after. I guess we’ll all find out eventually. I don’t fear death. I fear leaving people I love behind. I might have a different view if I found out I was dying, but I’ve seen a lot of death very close. So far, I’ve been on the receiving end. I’ve been left behind. I know how that feels and my fear is inflicting that on anyone.   This is the first time I’ve had a desk job, not been on the floor of the restaurant itself. I’m still slim, but I feel things seizing up that used to be stretched and loose when I walked eight hours a day instead of sitting down eight hours a day. A nine-to-five job pretty much takes up your whole day. A Bajan is a person like anybody else. We’re all human and that’s how I think we should think of it. One isn’t better than any other. We all come from and are going back to the same place. Holland is a place I like to visit, but Barbados is home. I’ve had more than one opportunity to live abroad, but I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

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