Saturday, June 25, 2011

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.

42 years ago yesterday, my mother’s water broke when she was 6 and a half months pregnant, however she didn’t go into labor or have any pains. She went to the hospital, but the doctors told her she had wait until she went into labor before they could do anything (this was the 60s, after all). They gently suggested that she prepare herself mentally because her baby was probably dead.

She spent a week on the couch, and then finally had labor pains. My aunt Roberte likes to tell the story about how she drove like a madwoman through every red light trying to get my mom to the hospital that day. And then, after many grueling hours, I was born. Alive.

I sometimes wonder why my foray into this world was so difficult, and why I survived. Perhaps there is a greater reason for me being here on this Earth. And maybe there isn’t, but it’s nice to think that there is.

Years ago, my friend Charles gifted me with a charm of the Eye of Horus. I never wore it, but back in January while cleaning out my jewelry box, I found it and felt compelled to wear it around my wrist on a chain. Charles claims the Eye of Horus watches over premature babies. I’m not so sure about that; but I have read that it is a symbol of life and resurrection. And speaking of life and resurrection, the blackberry bush I planted four springs ago flourished this past week. I thought the canes died during the winter (sadly, the golden raspberry cane kicked the bucket), but this morning I wandered across the yard to check on the blackberries and picked all of these:

I’m not quite sure what to do other than eat them immediately or scatter them on a bowl of half-melted vanilla ice cream. There is something enchanting about eating fruit straight from the vine. I remember eating groseilles and raspberries in a friend’s garden in Eastern France. Of all the meals I’ve eaten in my lifetime, the memory of eating those berries is right up there on my top ten list.

Welcome to summer.

*Title is a quote by William Wallace

Saturday, June 11, 2011

wanti, wanti, cyan getti, getti, getti nuh want it

Memorial Day weekend. Our last day in Jamaica. After lunch, we borrow one of those small 4-seater catamarans from the guys at the Watersports shack on the beach. They are clearly bored and look like if they close their eyes they’d be napping in no time. We push off, and as soon as we are safely out of their sight, about 100 yards from shore, we take our tops and bottoms off and tie them onto a rope which is bound to the boat so that we don’t lose them. We keep our lifejackets on but unbuttoned. The skies are overcast, but it’s very warm. Katherine is at the helm. I dip my leg into the water as we glide onwards. The only noise is the occasional sound of thunder in the far off distance. There are short gust of winds. The sea is blue, so many blues, variegated turquoise and lapis and not terribly deep. When I glance overboard I can see coral a few feet under the surface. We three girls are cackling, laughing. I shall remember this bit of sailing for years to come; I love being on the water in the middle of a foreign sea far from home. I don’t want to go home yet. We notice another small sailboat and two jet skiers far away. Patty is smoking cloves she bought online from Indonesia, stubbing the butts out and putting them in a plastic baggie. The wind feels glorious. I tilt my head back and straighten my legs out. I would do this every day if I could; I love it here. Patty takes over the steering, and Katherine leans over to salvage a lone empty milk jug floating forlornly along. I ask if it has a message inside, but it does not. The jet skiers are zigzagging across the water. One of them comes in close and cuts across our path about 50 yards ahead, and we curse him loudly for creating waves (I might have yelled “Vaffanculo!” which is the only Italian word I know, other than culinary words. Why I didn’t yell “Asshole” or “Prick” is beyond me). The jet skier doesn’t hear, he’s going a million miles an hour, and I’m sure he’s enjoying the wind too. When he comes back around to Zorro his way across our course, he glances over and notices that the three women on the boat are totally naked under their life vests. His smile turns into a broad shit eating grin and he slows down, along with his buddy who now comes in closely along the other side of the boat.

Patty: "Uh oh".
Me: "Patty. Patty. Floor it".
Patty (giggling): "This is a catamaran! You can’t just floor it!"
Me: "Dude, then you get to be the one who tells Foster that the last time you saw his wife was when she was on the back of a stranger’s jet ski, and for all you know she’s been sold into slave labor".
Jet skier 1 (who is not American or English or Jamaican): "hey, you girls wan jet ski?"
Us (in unison): "no thank you!"
Jet skier 1: "Ah, you wan jet ski? You ride jet ski? Not far! We breen back!"
Us: "No thanks!"
Katherine: "Just smile and ignore".
Me: "I can’t, I have to pee".

Eventually their smiles fade and defeated, they zoom away. Just because we’re staying at Hedo doesn’t mean we’re THOSE kinds of girls. Sheesh.

We sail towards a little island right off the coast that is inhabited by what looks like a beach shack/bar on one side and by an empty white sandy beach on the other side. We aim for the empty beach. The plan is that I will hop off and wade over to shore and go pee in the trees that cover the island, but as we get nearer, the catamaran starts scraping the tops of the coral and we’re still about 100 yards from shore. Pee break is canceled, and I’ll just have to hold it. We don’t want to go back to our resort, but we do. I shall miss this.

In honor of my latest trip to Jamaica, I’m going to attempt patties this weekend. On my last trip to Jamaica, I noted that the best thing I had eaten while there was a beef patty at the airport. Not to be outdone, on my way out of Montego Bay this last trip I grabbed two patties, one chicken and one vegetable, and a couple of Red Stripes. I have a fondness for handheld food.

I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe.