Fifty years ago today a three-year old boy stepped off a ship from London and into a foreign land. It had been his second ship that year. The first was from Ghana to London, from all that he had ever known and ever lost. His Daddy was a few steps behind, shoulders ramrod straight, big hands holding his baby brother. He was only a babe. The little boy didn’t speak English. His baby brother didn’t speak at all. All that they knew of life had changed overnight.
An air of grief clung to the party of three – the giant man and the two little boys. The toddler’s eyes would have been as wide as saucers as he was prodded ahead down the gangway. Trunks and cases would have followed – but not many. Maybe just one. Their Mummy did not come with them.
I can imagine him now, forgetting for a second that she was not there and searching the passengers behind him for a sign of her skirt, her hand, the sound of her laugh. No one had explained to him but he understood – the knowledge broke his little heart as he remembered he would not find her here. Or anywhere. She was gone from him.
What greeted him at the end of the pier was another world, another life, another language, another people. They were dancing in the streets. His grief collided with their jubilation on this hot August day. Colourful skirts would have been twirling, women with round figures and heads tied with colourful cloth would have been dancing around with bare-chested or cotton-clad men singing, lifting their arms in excitement, bawling out in prayer and praise. He heard one word chanted over and over from the boiling masses on land – In-dep-end-ence. Was it one word or four? What did it mean?
It must have been something very special but he would not have known for a few more years. It would not be his first English word. That word would be “For”. The first phrase he would speak in the language of his parents would be “For health and strength and daily food we praise Thy name oh Lord, Amen.” He would learn to sing it from the woman standing waiting on the shore. She looked a bit like Mummy had but tiny and with more wrinkles. She wasn’t much bigger than him and she was a good deal smaller than Daddy. As he walked down toward her she would have bent at the waist and wrapped her arms around him and lifted him into her embrace.
I wish I could tell him to be brave, this little boy, as Mama Birdie held him to her chest and reached for his sickly baby brother. I wish I could tell him you will grow. You will learn. You will travel. You will succeed. You will play football with Bob Marley. You will climb a mountain in Cumbria. You will race go karts with your children. You will meet Fidel Castro. You will know God. You will know love. And you will have me.
A daughter who loves you and is proud of who you have become.
Happy Independence Day Daddy. Happy Birthday Jamaica.
BUSHLETTE HAS MADE A VERY IMPORTANT DECISION!!!
I don’t think I ever want to get married!
I might be able to attribute this decision to “daddy issues”, but I think I will end up as one of those women who, at age 48(24 years from now), has been with the same man for 8 to 12 years, but won’t ever get married. I’ll call him my “partner” because after being in an 8 to 12 year relationship, “boyfriend” will sound too juvenile. Because I will refer to him this way, people will think I’m a lesbian, which he and I will always take in good humor as we spend our nights drinking dry wine from the east of Bolivia and staring sideways at abstract paintings.
I will wear long flowy skirts with delicately embellished flips flops that I will acquire on my vacation to a quaint, untouched Caribbean island. My scarves won’t match my outfits, and I will learn how to sew. As of now, I can’t knit, but I will try to learn in my spare time (when I’m 48). I will knit hideous scarves and sweaters for my family and closest friends. As ugly as they will be, these tokens of love will be appreciated because of how much they love me. I will have no idea that my knitting is horrendous…but those are the kinds of friends and family members I will be lucky enough to have.
Hummus will be one of my closest allies! I will eat a modest diet of completely healthy foods that are good for me but taste like cardboard…not because I should, but because I’ll like them! Okay…maybe I won’t like all of them, but most of them! I will like most of them!
I look forward to adding to this list! These thoughts were recently extracted from the tiny part of me that generates the most ridiculous, and most honest ideas that make my brain blush.
What makes your brain blush? 😉
Last night I heard the story of how my aunt Lina cut her hair.
It was 1981. She had had two children. She had lost all the weight and was as fit as could be. Had the look of shining health I imagine – even today she is the picture of a healthy life albeit with a cigarette. She walked into the salon one day and said cut it off! It was GORGEOUS she says. I was HOT!
She was telling me how she wore a pair of those sexy jeans that had a zipper at the bottom and a lacy top the day she met Mick Jagger. Her hair freshly cut. That was the first tour she went on. They became fast friends for life. She tells me that rock’n’roll keeps her young. But if you sleep with anyone they never invite you back. She’s glad she never crossed that line. Sometimes frigid is a good thing.
It’s a beautiful thing, a haircut. The best thing in the world to transition from one stage of life to the other.
Another thing she told me is that as a Scorpio I am a woman of power. The seat of our power is in the genitals… therefore scorpios make great prostitutes (and here I choked because I thought she was gonna say lovers!) but she discourages that direction. I am told that I will re-invent myself every few years (as I have been known to do to date). I have the nature of the phoenix – rising out of ashes as good as new with the power to do great things and soar above it all. She switched from astrology to numerology and made my head spin but there it was, the number 8. Near the number of God (didn’t know before that God had a number). But my allergy to numbers prevailed and the details left my brain as soon as it touched down.
At the end of it all I looked at her hair and I looked at mine and decided, there are worse things than being a woman alone. We could do worse!
Most of you know by now that I have a life coach. She’s amazing, she meets with me on Skype once a week from New York and we go through my request for coaching for the week. It is the one hour in every week that I have put into my schedule to think about myself, my wellbeing and my lifestyle. It’s funny what a little bit of consciousness can do!
In the beginning I signed myself up to a project that she would hold me accountable to work toward. It was a goal that if I died tomorrow and hadn’t reached it I would feel I had failed. I took a week to think and LIGHTBULB… my book. A little later in the month she asked about my week and I mentioned meeting a guy I knew in Miami airport for drinks while we waited for our flights to the Bahamas for me and Trinidad for him. She clapped her hands and said I smell a RELATIONSHIP PROJECT!
Ahhh… no. Please don’t make me do it! Oh my goodness I have never rejected something so fiercely in my life! I had so many excuses why this couldn’t work.
- It takes the fun out of meeting people to set goals and timelines. (As if I was having any fun on my couch with my dogs day in and and day out.)
- Making a plan to have a boyfriend by such and such a date makes love artificial and manufactured.
- How on earth can I find one date a week on an island this small and polluted by irresponsibility?
- This is the thinking of a MAN. How unfeminine and against everything I hold to be dear about femininity to turn hunter.
- Who needs relationships anyway?
And so I resisted. And resisted. And ignored it for about two months.
Funny thing about life coaches. They don’t let you get away. So when she came back to me in February and said Bushy, what on earth are you running from? It should be FUN! Go and talk to some of your friends about it and see what they say.
Girlfriend Feedback: Bushy do it! It could be fun. You don’t have to commit to making it happen just commit to the process. You could learn a lot about yourself that way.
Manfriend Feedback: Sheeeit Bushy. That’s what I do! How many people do I need to meet in one week to get a date. How many dates to I need to know if she’s for me. We’ll have to go out on the town together! (ick) You need to get off the couch. You are too young to be a hermit and I have been worried about you for some time.
Six months of silence. This is the first the Singlestream has heard of this because… well… I dunno why. But I STILL HATE IT. Ignoring the ick comments of the man friend (who I in no way wish to emulate) I decided let me try this out without taking it too seriously.
And so the learning began. There have been ups and downs and stops and starts and I am probably as far from my goal as ever but the things I have learned!
Early on I learned that I am terrified of intimacy. A guy who I met through the course of my goal setting became a very dear friend. One day, in the presence of a lot of other people, he asked me to please pull an ingrown hair out of his neck. I fought with myself saying no at first under the guise of not having my glasses and then gave in with a pep-talk-to-self (For goodness sake Bushy he’s asked you to take a needle to his neck, not to give you his hand in freakin marriage!). Head on my lap, needle out, I proceeded to assist my neglected friend with a problem. By the end of it I was shaking. To his credit he said nothing. But the shock of the intimacy of that innocent moment shook me for days. I have my theories around how this particular fear developed but that for another time and he is safely in the hands of some weak woman somewhere.
I learned that I set myself up to fail. I surround myself with unavailable men. They make excellent friends but each of them has a reason why I would never keep him around. He’s married. Or he’s entangled with his recently broken off relationship. Or he’s a business associate. Or he’s four feet tall. Or he’s… you get the picture. It feeds the context that there are no good single men in the country. It serves me by proving me right. But I’ve learned to take responsibility for that; I SURROUND MYSELF with the unavailable. I am a different person with the available – prickly, sharp, intimidating, or simply distant. The ones who don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell I am safe with and am completely at home in myself around. The available meet my fortress of walls.
Conditions of satisfaction are important. In starting this out I was invited to write out my conditions of satisfaction. As I was at the time going through the hiring process at work, it easily took the format of my Job Description and my Person Specification Sheet. The sheet has three main columns – the qualities I cannot do without in a partner in column 1, the qualities I would like but are optional in column 2, and in column 3 the vices I absolutely cannot live with. Smoking for instance. And crazy ex wives. Habitual lateness. Illiteracy. The attributes and vices fall into categories – abilities, circumstances, interests, and so on. It has been an exciting tool to use and minimizes the waste of ones time – if something shows up in column 3 on the first date then NEXT.
In the process I have learned just what my patterns are around relationships and men. I’ve learned that I tend to jump in with both feet and jump quite quickly right back out with both feet (but I might have known that before). I’ve learned that I expect men to run – they always do – and that I have built a context and expectation around men that they will never be able to cope with the power of my personality so at some point they are gonna duck and run (or cheat). I’ve learned that I expect men to be irresponsible and that I have a tendency to look down my nose at them as a member of a superior race. Truth is it is rare that I’m proven wrong. But that is also my fault – I surround myself with men who prove me right!
I have a lot of junk around my own strength. If power could create a complex, I’ve got it. For instance, my man in Iraq. I mean, I know I’m a powerhouse and I know it blows the minds of people who don’t know me well, but deep down I’m a pretty sensitive and insightful person. This is the me that unavailable men get to meet. This is the me that my dogs are glad to see wake up in the morning and scratch their ears before I even get out of bed. This is the me that I am in my comfort zone – my house, my office, my grandmother’s hammock, anywhere but on a date.
I am responsible. For all of it. This is perhaps the biggest thing for me. I am responsible for who I am around people and from there what kind of people I attract to be around me. I am responsible if I don’t meet my quota of meeting five new men this week because how on earth am I supposed to meet five guys sat on my own couch? I am responsible for the me that others get to know and whether or not it is an authentic person. I am responsible to step outside of my comfort zone and to be open to melting away my contexts and my expectations. I am learning through this terrible terrible project that responsibility belongs to me and it is my duty to own it.
But I’m still resisting the hell out of it. This week two of the men I met (on a night out with the ick manfriend) were so OUT THERE in column three that I was like HOT DAMN I’m better off single!
But next week I’m gonna be brought right back to the document and asked to give an account for how well I’ve done to meet my goals. HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This blog began as an experiment, to record a story as it unfolded. It began with a heartbreak and a haircut and was intended to track the journey to healing and a full flowing mane. I have discovered many things along the way – bits and pieces of myself, my struggles, my beauty and my strength have to come to my conscious understanding. A lot of lessons and experiences have made writing an interesting passtime. But recent days have brought to the forefront a purpose. A purpose to be TRUTH.
Truth is a difficult thing to face. Particularly if facing it and speaking it could bring repurcussions and judgement from those around us. It is a particularly difficult when the effects of it could land unsolicited on the lives of loved ones like husbands and children. This is where I have found a major purpose and the advantage of singleness. And what a discovery this has been!
I’M WIDE AWAKE! I have a new understanding of what Paul had to say about singleness:
An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
1 Corinthians 7:34
What is the work of God? Truth. Truth is God’s business. If I am unconcerned with the needs of a husband, I am free to speak and be truth. If I am free of fear of what my husband will think or of any harm that might come to him from what I do or say or challenge in truth, I am able to make change happen.
It is our responsibility to live authentic lives. Fear is what gives birth to falsehood. Survival mechanisms and alter egos are designed to protect us from the side effects of being true. But once we get to the place of fearlessness the sky is the limit and change is clay in our hands.
For the single this is a much easier journey. Fear for ourselves is all we have to surpass. And each of us has a calling to get past that fear and break out with some truth.
What is your purpose? What is the truth that you are called to be?
I got into an argument yesterday. It was about my saying something very publicly that I believe wholeheartedly to be true. The conversation was well-meant and came from the best of places. But it got me good and hot.
I was told that in my review of a Gathering of Old Men I took away from the power of what I had to say by my mention of the story of the Card Cutter. I was told that damage could have been done to my credibility and I would have distracted my listeners from the more powerful points that I was making by making reference to my personal experience of relationships and the trend of infidelity in our nation being so prevalent that not one single woman my age on this rock has been left untouched by it. As if that was not a powerful point in and of itself! The statement that was the subject of our discussion was that “I, like Carolina in The Card Cutter, and probably every Caymanian woman my age, have lost a man to a “papaw-skinned, straight-haired woman” whose first language was not english.” I was told that no woman took my man, that he decided to leave. It galled me that this was exactly my point, except it wasn’t about my man, it was about my society. I was told that I failed to acknowledge the flip side to the social development of a culture of jilted and divorced women and men taking on submissive and subservient mistresses and wives from other cultures who don’t even speak their language. This side was presented with the opinion that the Caymanian woman takes relationships for granted and behaves as though she owns her husband.
Let me tell you. I saw the colours of the rainbow. They treat their husbands like they own them? That’s because according to God and the law they BLOODY WELL DO. There is a legal document that says they belong to eachother until death. Her fighting is usually FOR the relationship to work. Her control is usually due to her hard-learned and fully justifiable distrust.
Ladies and gentlemen please do not take this as a dislike for other cultures. I myself am a cross-cultural creation. This is about fidelity.
I invite the married men in my life and those who catch sight of my written words to consider this. Invest in your woman. She has offered her life to you as a deposit. How you invest determines your return. She should never be the only one that has holding your family together as her top priority. I invite you to give to your children the gift that they are entitled to – your devotion and your commitment to them and to their mother. The grass is never greener on the other side.
Please bear with Bushlings as I do some construction work on the Singlestream. Over the weekend there will be loads of changes to the format of the site. On Monday we will be starting fresh with a new and improved Singlestreaming look.
Enjoy your day! And have a look at the Wildflowers from this mornings walk!
There were more entries. But they came to an abrupt end with this final statement.
A new lesson I’ve learned – it’s not about me. It’s about PURPOSE. And for this reason I am ending this blog. It was ill-fated to name it “Pieces of Me” – My pieces are immaterial! And so I am starting with a new direction… and a new blog.
Then began the singlestream. The rest is well documented history. I hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane!
Around the time of that last haircut this piece was written. This numbness persisted until the fight to the surface began on the Singlestream.
Morning walks with Julius and Lola are becoming a little haven in my day. The evening walks are different – a part of my routine of chores – and I’m begging Lola pleasepleasePLEASE just pop a squat. But in the mornings the sun has been rising early and by the time I’m out there with them hell bent and arrow straight on their taut little leashes the cool of night is a whispering ghost and the air is moist with the breath of summer. In the shade of the odd little tree on the walking circle the smell of rain lingers and the dew lines are cut clearly by the bright sun spots. The dogs focus on the task at hand – Julius smelling and then obliterating every marking of every other stud with yellow streams and Lola’s special mission of pulling till she chokes with the odd burst of speed after a wild chicken.
In between the poop stops I wake up in increments. I wave at the neighbor who seems to have the same dog walk programmed into his smart phone. The dreams of the night before shake out with each sleep-heavy step like dust. I fight the creaking knees to bend and pick up the odd spot and my mind wonders.
It is on these walks in recent days that I have come to realize that I have no fantasies.
From my experience and in the experience of every woman who has shared pieces of her life with me I have concluded that a woman is driven by love. As a child she dreams of Cinderella dresses and glows at the thought that a handsome someone will think her beautiful and want her for his princess. As a teenager she struggles with the fight between her innocence and fear and the messages of society that tell her that with inch of skin she reveals she shall be repaid in love. As a young woman she will go to sleep at night re-living the attentive conversation of a nice man looking for clues and snuggle warm into her fantasies of what could happen if he were to turn out to be “the one”.
And so it is easy to feel myself somewhere in the neighborhood of the shadow of death to feel no thrill and to find no fantasy waiting at the end of the day to rock me to sleep…
Have I finally taken the bullet square in the chest by my last heartbreak that I have been taken off the battlefield entirely? Has the last healthy nerve ending been soldered off so completely that nothing and no one has the power to move me? Is this God’s answer to my prayers that “if it is not Your will for me Father please take away the desire”?
If so, it has come with more pain than I imagined. I imagined a clean break and inner peace. Now not only do I feel the void created by loves lost but by the loss of the ability to love itself. The death of the idea, if this is in fact what it really is, is infinitely worse.
Perhaps it is more like a coma. I think I would prefer to believe that. It must be! Death would leave a ghostless void wouldn’t it? Not an echoing chamber of voices and photographs of loving moments frozen in time. The heart still has its ears. Isn’t hearing the last sense to go? Isn’t that why families hold on to hands with desperate grip and pour out their souls’ secrets to their loved ones laying white in hospital bed and gown with the only sign of life the beeping of a monitor?
The heart hears still. It is frozen, waiting, listening for words warm enough to melt, real enough to slice, and strong enough to last forever. The lock on it’s casing has a code that only one other soul should know and many thieves may attempt to simulate. Many will speak to it, beg it, cajole it to no avail. Like Excalibur it waits for one hand – the right hand – to dip into the icy stone and pry it free.
I much prefer this to the thought of a death of a piece of me. I suppose the preference is in itself evidence of some truth to it.
Meanwhile the empty moments before sleep are not filled with fantasies. They are not hopeful and trembling, not listless and lusting. They have no images of smiling faces and quiet moments and beating hearts. No sounds of sweet nothings. Memories have been completely banished from these moments – they are even more painful. The minutes passing are simply… empty. For a few days now they have weighed heavy and empty – so heavy in fact that I am moved to fill them with wine and company or stories of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men”.
Is this what you would have me do?
Deep down, after passing through the flailing of a despairing brain short now of balance from its emotional counterpart, after passing through the stress barrier of the demands of my work and of my life obligations, past the frozen silence of my nighttime moments and the dew spots of my morning walks, under all that sits the knowledge that this is a time with a purpose. It has to be.
Every moment of despair in my years has been used by my Father to prepare me. He has used childhood grief to bring reason to my life even if from the strange starting point as a vehicle through which my dying friend could live vicariously. He has used failure to open doors that success would have persuaded me to ignore. He has used heartbreak as an earthquake to move me from a place of danger into safety. Illness has been the medicine used to bring me back to spiritual health. Loss has brought me moments of intangible and incalculable wealth. This knowledge is my foundation, my rock bottom, a low past which he will not have me go. It is the hand in which my world rests and as deep as I dig I will only go this low and no lower than his hand. This emptiness too must have a purpose…
Today, with a cup of coffee in one hand, the sheen of the morning’s walk on my brow and the dogs sat by my feet still panting after coolness, I am praying for guidance. I cannot see the map but I will take instructions from Your satellite navigation system. Turn me right, bear me left, teach me, stretch me, trim me, make me. Serve through me. I will trust You to fill my emptiness.
Be my Fantasy.