Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Where's My Hometown? Parts Unknown
By Kaie "Kaya" Omodele @theabeng
Mr. Samuelsson tussled with this stumper then teetered a reply like probably Harlem (where he now lives, owns and operates a gourmet restaurant); Sweden- enhhhh, enhhh; Ethiopia- not so much. Maybe he sounded a little bit more decisive than that, but that's all I gathered, disconnection. Which I recognized immediately because I get that same feeling sometimes when I stop and think about where in the world I consider my "hometown." Such is one song of an immigrant.
See, like Mr. Samuelsson who emigrated from Ethiopia to Sweden as a young child, and later on to the United States, I've trotted 'round a few countries, cities and towns, myself. I went to school in six different cities* before I was eighteen years old, seven cities if I count my Pre-K at my tow great-aunts' school in New Amsterdam. My longest stint in any of them was four years at Watooka Day Primary in Linden. My oldest friendships today began on that school compound and my first chups** was under the mango tree. (Big up Nikki and Rosie, Butchie an M-Lo; somehow, someway our friendship has lasted through decades, social mediaed over seas and Skyped clear 'cross continents) We got war-break memories with the boyz and ring-game memories with the girls, so Linden definitely tugs at my heartstring.
But then, I have coming-of-age, rites-of-passage memories floating 'round Brooklyn, where I kissed the girls then made a one or two cry. Starlite Ballroom, Love People ONE, Village Hut, Caribbean City and Caribbean Dome. The County of Kings is where I began to smell myself, for real.
Whatever his reason for calling Harlem home, I find it hard to connect with one, single hometown. What matters most to me are my connections with people that have touched my life. I cherish moments. My mind drifts to a city and automatically recalls an experience shared with someone in a specific moment. In all my triumphs and failures, in every embrace or fight, through torrents of tears or gut-wrenching laughter, I've lived. "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home."
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