September made a whole year I’ve been blogging as founder and creator of Nomad en Noir, LLC. The idea was personal and thought provoking. I wanted to be of good to more communities globally and give back and inspire traveling to destinations that help me feel better about myself, culture and history within the African Diaspora.
So in that time I have travelled to Africa to raise more awareness about its countries and people and currently live in the Caribbean on an island that I call my first home. Located southeast of Puerto Rico, within the Caribbean Sea, St. Croix is the largest of the three islands that make up the United States Virgin Islands and is my birthplace and childhood home.
September also makes two months since the passing of my mother and I continue to mourn her, but more importantly I am happy to honor her. So please forgive the delay in a new post arriving so late. I’m happy to be back and start off with a personal story about what Daring to Find Youself Means?
I grew up in Estate Sion Farm on St. Croix, the elementary school I went to sits at the center of the neighborhood and was built on the site of an old slave plantation. The library that houses the books was once the boiling room where they refined sugar from sugar cane and was my favorite building on campus. The people that live in Sion Farm are lucky to live in a community with so much history in it, and everyday we walked to school we passed an old sugar mill and thought nothing of it.
The community has changed some, as many have left the island, and there are more abandoned homes. But the stories of young boys and girls walking to and from school or going to the park to play after school are still there. It’s taken a long time to accept that I may need to be home for a little, that I am the prodigal son who must return home, but I’m glad I got here sooner than later.
I wished I could tell you that Daring To Find Youself is something that I’ve always said or that going back home and giving back has always been at the core of my future plans, but that would be a lie. After moving to America or as we call it “the mainland” in the summer of 1999 I went through a fascination with my new home; New York City for a teenager was a dream come true. The more I stayed away from home and the more time I was given to learn new things and ideas, the more I wanted to be away from St. Croix. The beauty of the island in how I see it today was not how I saw it growing up.
Unfortunately, Sion Farm could be a dangerous place at times growing up and my mother sheltered us from it the best she could. Besides, in my mind there were always more beautiful places, more developed countries, and more interesting people elsewhere. Every time I’ve travelled somewhere in the last decade I always meet an individual who has gone home to do good and I always ask why? The answer has always been the same. Simply, to give back!
Life has a way of humbling you and bringing you back down to earth and I’ve accepted a few things in life. One being: going back home in your lifetime to do some good is as important as doing good while you’re away. So even if you never end up back in your native land, find a way to give back.
In embracing my nomadic side I’ve also accepted that nowhere I’ve lived has ever been perfect, no amount of comfort and progress has ever made up for being amongst friends, love ones, and cultural history. Daring to Find Youself, for me, means being brave enough to not just physically go home, but being able to go anywhere that intrigues me or has opportunities for more perspective and more growth and sharing that process with my readers.
As a little boy on the island I was already being trained to be who I am today and we all need to be reminded of that sometimes. The boy who loved reading books and sharing stories aloud on Anansi the Spider and other folkloric tales from the Caribbean and West Africa was always going to major in English and become an educator, who travels to foreign lands and shares his own stories. I need to be home right now to mourn the loss of my mother and to accept a stronger position in my family and being home physically is necessary for that.
There’s still a slight uncomfortable feeling with St. Croix at times. I get frustrated because things move slower. I coach myself into appreciating the good mornings I get each day and the constant reminders from strangers that I look like my mother or that they knew my father, or grandmother. I finally have the feeling of belonging to a family because of the warmth in their knowledge of already knowing who I am and it reminds me that I am a part of something much bigger than myself.
My time home is opening my eyes to shots of a younger eager me ready to learn and makes me even more eager to grow and share. The days of running up and down the bleachers in the baseball stadium behind my mom’s house or playing soccer and basketball with friends with no uniforms or gear. In Daring to Find Youself, you need to find those moments so that you can piece the story better in your mind and accept the destiny of why you are uniquely you. I’m not perfect by a long stretch but I think my time home will help me accept my imperfections even more as I have had to look around my island and accept its imperfect things and focus on its beauty.
I could have started this blog about St. Croix with the beautiful beaches, hotels, and well preserved historic buildings, but I found it more important to paint a story of who I am and how I got to be this man and it starts with a snapshot of my childhood.
Daring to Find Youself will take on so many different meanings over time, but as long as it involves serious work on developing a deeper understanding of self I’m here for it!
As I prepare to go through experiencing hurricane Maria, please consider supporting the hurricane Irma relief as our sister islands of St. Thomas and St. John rebuild. If St. Croix is affected by Maria in the same way please know that I will call on you my readers for your support as well.