Summer 2019 is unfortunately over but will forever be in my heart because I finally got to visit Jamaica, my home country for the first time. I am so full of gratitude for the experience but also sad to be back home in Toronto because it's already so damn cold and the food just isn't the same. Going back to Jamaica was definitely long overdue, but better late than never. Funny enough, so many things were stopping me from going on this trip and I made it anyway. Although Toronto is very multicultural and has a very Jamaican-influenced culture, I knew I would feel a different kind of satisfaction and connection going back home. I spent 9 days in 4 different homes and got to experience different kinds of people and different parts of our country.
My first stop was Old Harbour, where I stayed with some cousins and got to experience a bit of the night life. What I love the most about Jamaica is the power of our music, everyone knows our songs and it always brings us together. I then stayed with my friend Chloe and her mother in Falmouth for the weekend and they really showed me what it means to be family and accept each other. In Toronto, I didn't always feel Jamaican enough because I was born in Canada and had no accent. I always feared visiting Jamaica I would feel the same. However, even when people knew I wasn't born in Jamaica, I was embraced anyways, because it's still home and we are still family. Not all Jamaicans are the same and being Black isn't a one size fit all. It was important for me to learn that, accept that and write my own narrative. My childhood was full of identity-crises and not feeling like I belonged. But reclaiming who I am as a Black Jamaican woman has changed everything for me, because I'm no longer hiding parts of myself that I thought weren't good enough or black enough or Jamaican enough. Duality is beautiful. I love Toronto, and I'm very privileged for being raised in a country like Canada, but Jamaica is and will always be a part of me, something I'm extremely proud of.
My friends and family took me everywhere; Doctors Cave in Montego Bay, Dunn's River in Ocho Rios (highlight of the trip), Devon's Place in Kingston and even where my grandmother grew up, Clarendon, another parish in Jamaica. It was a beautiful and overwhelming experience. My beautiful grandmother Fanny, passed away in 2016. She was a brilliant, strong, nurturing woman, who raised me, all of my siblings, cousins and my entire family really. I got to see the house she lived in, and also her mother (my great grandmother's) grave during my stay. I miss her. I miss her food. I miss being in her building at Humber Blvd with all my cousins, hearing her yell "Stephaniiiieeee" my mother's name, which she often called me. I am so happy I got to see those parts of her home. My only wish is to make her proud by never abandoning my roots or my family. Clarendon is super country and special, my cousin drove me to all of our family's favourite places like Salt River. I got to eat so many festivals, the sun did wonders on my skin and Jamaican people are really like no other. I'm really thankful for everyone who made this trip memorable. It's both exhilarating and sometimes annoying to have such a protective Jamaican family, (my aunt video called me on What'sApp every hour) but I smiled throughout the entire trip because of it. I felt seen, loved, heard and protected through and through. Thank you Jamaica, I'll be back.
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Learning How to Fly is a visual and written diary series dedicated to all things women and wellness. Through digital storytelling, Keosha shares her personal life experiences and how she navigates her own world and the people around her through the lens of a Black woman. Learning How to Fly reflects on identity, hardships, emotions, love and the lessons they unfold.