Blogs by J P Lane
Response to a Facebook friend
3/1/2011 9:46:40 PM
A Facebook friend commented on my elation at seeing a review of my novel, "The Tangled Web", on jamaicans.com, a website frequented by the Jamaican diaspora scattered across every continent. I assumed from his comment that, like me, he's a first generation immigrant to the United States. I began posting a reply to him, but it became a bit long-winded for Facebook’s limited comment space, hence today’s blog.
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there for a large part of my life. From my Facebook friend’s name, I can tell he’s Hispanic, though I don’t know his country of origin. But I guessed from his remark that he and I may share a common sentiment; we still have a deep love for the old country and no matter how happy or successful we may be in the “promised land,” part of us feels displaced.
In my reply to his comment, I’d started telling Juan (my FB friend) that I’m reading a book written by an American lady who fell head over heels in love with Jamaica, so much so that after multiple visits to the island, she packed her bags and went to live there. And here I quote from her book, "Born Fi Dead": “You’ll keep going back to Jamaica again and again,” Womack said softly. “And the place will never be anything else to you than it is now, a loved mystery. But you won’t ever be really comfortable here again, either, and eventually you’ll become a kind of exile in both places.”
I touch on the “exile” experience in "The Tangled Web". Lauren is visiting Logan at his swanky apartment at a prestigious New York address overlooking Central Park. She stands at a window admiring the view. He thinks it’s nothing compared to the view from the mountains back home, meaning Jamaica. She’s surprised to hear him say so. She had assumed New York was his home. He replies pensively, “There are two types of homes – the one where you live, and the one where your heart resides. They’re not necessarily the same. It’s a fortunate man who lives where his heart is.” Lauren thinks his remark is a bit maudlin. He shrugs, “It’s just the reality of modern life. We’ve become nomads, pitching our tents in one place or another for whatever reason, often separated from our loved ones by thousands of miles. Just as often separated by oceans. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any point to it.”
This afternoon, I went to the supermarket. I took the back roads home, which I like to do. The gentle roll of Alachua County farmland is greening after the long winter. Redbud trees are already in full bloom, adding a flamboyant dash of pink to the landscape. There’s a CD playing on my car stereo. It’s the soundtrack of "O Brother Where Art Thou?" – classic Country Blues, as close to the land as my car tires are to the dirt road I travel along. Near the end of my journey, I turn onto my road and breath deeply with pleasure. Shaded by old Live Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss, my road is like a three-mile long cathedral aisle; one of the most beautiful in Alachua County they say. I claim this beautiful road as mine, because this is where I’ve lived for nearly five years.
Before moving to rural north Florida, I lived in two major U.S. cities (Miami and Atlanta) and visited easily more than a dozen others. I’ve splashed in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, climbed mountain trails, swam in rivers, trod busy city sidewalks, and traveled on roads where there wasn’t another vehicle to be seen for thirty miles. I’ve seen America from sea to shining sea and I know her well. And I love her with a passion I didn’t think was possible. And yet Logan’s heart beats as one with mine in this scene from the opening chapter of "The Tangled Web": “Still gazing out the window of his plane, Armstrong could see the island now, or rather he could sense it. Though lit by brilliant moonlight, only lights twinkling down the mountains to the harbor were visible from the air. It always amazed him how much subliminal energy this island had. He could almost hear it rising from the earth like the distant beat of rasta drums. It had been more than twenty years since it had been his permanent home, but now, as his plane prepared to land, he had that familiar feeling of coming home. It always felt good to be back…”
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More Blogs by J P Lane
When Christmas Past and Present Become One - Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Putting on a False Face - Friday, October 28, 2011
SWEATER SEASON - Thursday, October 06, 2011
Why They Called Me Imelda - Friday, September 16, 2011
Who wears the pants around here? - Friday, September 02, 2011
Been a bad girl - Sunday, August 21, 2011
Response to a Facebook friend - Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Re: The Time Thief - Thursday, February 17, 2011
On The Twelfth Day of Christmas I write this - Thursday, January 06, 2011
The year is waning fast - Sunday, December 12, 2010