New Year’s blessings to all my readers and those following for the first time. I appreci-love (translation: appreciate and love; we don’t deal with ‘ate, i.e. hate) every single one of you.
Like how it’s a new year now, we can talk bout some old tings?
You know that one piece of clothes you’ve had from 19-how-long, which always seems to evade the garbage? Yes, you know it: thinned out, bad coloured, strings hanging from the hem, collar stretched out, care instructions on the frayed, curled up, white tag faded eons ago. . .
Come on, man. It’s the one you bought while on vacation in Barbados, Bahamas, Cayman or whichever Caribbean island. And everytime you walk out in it, your spouse, sister or granny mek up dem face. . .
Yes, man! The same one crossing your mind right this second. It’s the one you can’t believe you’ve had for almost 20 years (den a so time fly?!) and took on your last vacation or currently sleep in because it looks too ratty to carry go foreign.
I have a nightie like that, a lovely, light-grey, knit-cotton, mini dress with SuperClubs Breezes, Curacao embroidered in black on the bodice. The black straps barely holding up the dress now, but it can wear. I bought it at the hotel’s souvenir shop during a 2003 Curacao vacation (den a so time fly?!). I had also bought a blue sarong wrap for my mother, which she still has to this day, but has repurposed.
You know what I love about Jamaicans? We pride ourselves on how long we can ‘keep tings’. It doesn’t matter how many years pass, we handle our possessions like they were purchased yesterday. It’s the same attitude with our furniture, our cars and our houses. We scrub them down, polish them up and give them a new coat of paint as needed. Generally, we’re not a fussy people. So long as we have health and strength, we awright. We give God thanks for our blessings and care for whatever He blesses us with.
Last September, my former neighbour was on hands and knees in the parking lot shining up a new Suzuki, freshly cleared from the wharf. He had started a car rental business, and we were discussing that plus cars and their durability.
“Then how old you think my Toyota is?” he asked.
“The red one I always see you driving?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“How old?” I asked.
“1996,” he shared proudly.
“Really!! Yuh keep it good, man!!” I was absolutely impressed. I had my last car for no less than 10 years.
I’m sure you’ve had similar conversations with a friend, a stranger, your parents. Maybe they weren’t about a roadworthy vehicle, but a retired one sitting under a blue tarpaulin by a guinep tree. Your father swears it was the only one of its kind in the entire island when he drove it off the car lot and into the neighbourhood in slow motion, all four windows down and wind blowing through his afro in 1982. There’s pure pride plastered on his face each time he recounts a story you’ve been hearing since first form. And although the engine breathed its last breath a few years ago, he hangs on, hoping to repair and restore “Betty” to her glory days.
During my teenage years, a friend’s mother had a pastel-coloured living-room suite she kept pristine with plastic covers. The chairs were a little crunchy to sit on, but I bet you the fabric underneath was soft to the touch. You see, younger folks today may not fully recognize the worth of plastic covers back then. They kept children’s greasy fingers from staining up a good-good settee and Spiderman’s boney dolly parts from juk juk up the fabric.
In Jamaica, the less money we spend replacing things, the better. We laud builders if dem tings last long. We revere manufacturers, who create articles that live on with us from infancy to old age, because at the end of the day, it means our hard-earned dollars were well spent.
Speaking of old age. Before moving house, I went to great pains (separation anxiety really) to shed stuff not likely to be used again: used batteries; a radio, which could only pick up RJR, no matter where I turned the dial; two clocks, which stopped ticking five or so years ago; yellow, pink, blue and green setters from my crème-hair days; plus clothes and other belongings. The rational part of me wanted less clutter. The lazy side wanted fewer boxes to pack.
After the two-month-long purging exercise, you would never guess what I came across the other day.
“Mi neva throw dis whey?!” I mouthed to myself, stunned and gawking at the Curacao memento lying limply between my fingers. How on earth did it evade the garbage?!
To those aspiring to be like Jamaicans, don’t be afraid to keep things long. Jus’ mek sure you know when it’s time to part ways wid an ole ting and make way for the new.
Catch yuh next time.
Love and peace.