There was a time when I lived in London and I could get home - home being Trinidad, home still being Trinidad - relatively easily and cheaply because there were so many tourist flights to both islands. Then multiple of these airlines filed for bankruptcy or decided the route was unprofitable or unfashionable or whatever it is that stops planes from landing at airports. And I remember thinking, watching prices tick up over time, that my ability to get home was a function of other people’s desire to be entertained.
There was a time when oxtail and ghee and coconut oil weren’t things you’d find in Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, when finding the good stuff meant a bus trip or two. Have you truly lived, as a person from another place, if someone hasn’t first been repelled by the foods that most remind you of home and then later asked if you’ve ever eaten them, because they know this really good place in Manhattan that does the best
At some point “going back” becomes “going to”.
It has been a long time since I lived in London, and yet the question but where are you really from asked by a certain kind of British person and defended by a certain kind of British press with that person attends a church that Black people also attend! how dare you suggest! comes with it a visceral sense memory. A remembering, in the body, of what it was like, not being from there, having been discovered as someone who dared, nonetheless, to be there. Remembering the first time I realized what it was like for the people who were from there but were perceived, nevertheless, as interlopers. When it is was the long arm of empire that dared, first.
not picture postcards
for unravelling tourist
these islands real
than flesh and blood
these islands split
— from Price We Pay For The Sun by Grace Nichols