Saturday, July 16, 2011
Traveling to Jamaica
It was late, at least 3 in the morning. Everyone was still awake and I heard them talking about people arriving soon. With that I looked out my window to see a taxi pulling into the parking lot, leaving its mark in the uniformly white snow.¨I watched it as it slowly crept by each building, only stopping when it found its target. Both passenger doors opened up and two large men stepped out. They surveyed the building for a second, glanced at each other, and started walking towards my building and out of site. My heart started racing as I awaited the now inevitable. I would have to play along with whatever I was dealt with. I could handle it, its just rehab right? I walked out to the living room where my family seemed to realize the two men were on their way up. My mom couldn’t look at me, seemingly on the verge of tears. Then the knock came. A flurry of nervous activity erupted, as nobody seemed to know how to act at the moment.
My grandfather opened the door, and the men asked him where I was. Two very large Jamaican men, representing themselves as private detectives from Miami, came straight over to me. I was put in handcuffs, and they asked my family if they wanted to say their goodbyes. My brother came up to me again and gave me a hug, as did my father. My mother was sobbing at this point, and kept telling me she didn’t know they were going to handcuff me. I reassured her, contrary to all my feelings surrounding the day; a son does not look at his crying mother with any satisfaction, even if he was cursing her just moments before. At least I didn’t think so then.
The goodbyes were said, and the men grabbed me by both arms and escorted me to the waiting taxi. My father, brother and grandfather followed. I was put into the back seat with the larger of the two men. I glanced over as the driver shifted into drive. The image I saw has never left my mind. My grandfather in his trench coat and fedora stood in the middle of my father and brother. They were side by side staring at the cab, the snow gently easing its way down flake by flake. I focused on a single snowflake, drifting from above the streetlamp, meandering down through the orange hue, and finally coming to rest at my grandfather’s feet; no more an individual, just a single color spread as far as I could see.
We arrived at the airport. I had learned, during the trip, that I was being sent to a program located in Jamaica and would probably be there for a couple weeks if I “worked” the program. I was taken aback by the location, but two weeks didn’t seem too bad at all. A trip to Jamaica, I was sure this was going to be interesting. The handcuffs did concern me, though I brushed it off as a precautionary measure. And besides, what a badass I must have looked like getting escorted through airports in handcuffs. I even gave some nasty glances to older ladies staring curiously at the blond hair blue eyed boy sandwiched between two large Jamaican men.
First we flew to Atlanta and then onto Montego Bay, Jamaica. As we got off the plane, Jamaican women lined up in the aisle that led to the lobby, singing native songs and shaking everything they had for the tourists who were at the heart of the country’s economy. I almost felt like I was cheating, not intending to spend a dime there, and yet getting a free show anyway. Oh well, it wasn’t my choice, but my mood was elevated by the women, and the temperature too. It was a hundred degree difference from my city, and in February that made me pretty damn happy.
We were met by a driver from Tranquility Bay, the program I was headed to. We exchanged pleasantries, and in my naivety I thought this could actually be fun. Everything so far indicated that it could be alright. Well everything except the handcuffs. But I knew my mom, and she would never put me in harms way; there was nothing to worry about.
The drive to Tranquility Bay was amazing. We drove through the heart of Jamaica’s jungles and hills. People lined the roads in certain parts, barbequing and smoking what I could have sworn were large spliffs. The driver instilled visions of Grace Kelly’s final minutes as he darted around slow moving trucks while turning a corner or speeding 50 mph on a road no larger than a car and a half. It was exhilarating though; knowing that despite the normalcy of the grass, the familiarity of the sky, and the common traits of the people here compared to people I knew at home, I was actually in the middle of Jamaica’s jungles. A place you heard stoners idolize, a Rastafarian hideaway, the heart of the Caribbean.
The rest of the story is found here: Tranquility Bay Experience (The blog "Tales from the Black School")