Christmas time is one of the few holidays I actually look forward to. Aunties put forth their best egg nog and you can get away with sleeping in, unless the Christmas dinner is at someone’s home other than your own. This past Christmas was my first Christmas with family in a little over three years and it also so happened to be the birthday of my great grandpa “Gramps” as we call him.
I was lucky having two weeks off for Christmas. Working in China, I was lucky to have any days off for Christmas. As I write this reflection piece, I am already 3 weeks away from another two-week break for Chinese New Year! Most of my dad’s side of the family would meet in Jamaica since Gramps rather not fly anymore, and I don’t blame him. Can you imagine dealing with over touchy TSA agents and grumpy customs officers at ninety-four?
I left Shanghai on a grey and rainy morning as I headed to the airport, over packed as usual. I was whispering to my wheels to hang on as I heard them squeal under the weight of my suitcase. The last thing I wanted before checking in for a 14-hour flight to Atlanta was a busted suitcase and a squabble in broken english and mandarin as to what to do with it. And no, buying another suitescase wasn’t on my to do list because #brokelife.
After spending a few hours in Atlanta that night, my mother and I rushed out of the house with 5 bags, a dog that needed to be babysat and what seemed like my mom’s entire office in the back seat. We were half way to dropping off our yorkie when I broke into a fit of anger and sadness…I had left my camera.
Since getting a canon and working on my photo skills, I wanted to capture my family and parts of the island that I call home. As an expat especially, there come a time when everyone becomes homesick, and after 3 years abroad that was finally my case. I thought the day would never come. Also I wanted to have photos to show my kids so they could boost my head and tell me how good I looked at 25.
Is that selfish?
My mom, who’s confirmed flight was a few hours after the one I was trying for via standby quickly dropped me off to check in, ran home, grabbed my camera, drove back to the airport, parked, checked in and made it to her gate just in time to give me a kiss an hug before she boarded. Little did she know, they were calling her name at the gate with the intentions of giving her seat away…but I’ll still give her the win for that day. I was at the airport from 6am until 6pm. Hartsfield Jackson got nearly 100usd from me that day.
I was hungry twice, I took a nap and woke up shivering so I bought a travel blanket. I walked around and then realized I needed an adapter because the charger for my canon had a European plug. I bought some Dream Water with melatonin and some lotion because feet were so dry and ashy, I couldn’t bare to look at them myself.
I thought if I didn’t look at my exposed feet, they would seemingly disappear from everyone else’s line of sight. That was not the case. As I was walking through a hallway in the international section, a little girl from across the hall made eye contact with my feet and I knew the reason why she was frozen in place.
Now if your ashiness reaches a level in which a non black person is caught off guard, then you know its that time to apply the heavy moisture. So thank you to the airport for selling Gold Bond.
Finally after watching flight after flight fill with passengers and being proclaimed full, me and a handful of other fatigued passengers made it unto a 6 pm flight heading Montego Bay. One woman flying on a buddy pass had been at the airport since Thursday…it was Sunday. Another had been trying to leave from Ft. Lauderdale to Detroit with no luck and ended up in Atlanta. It was as if all of us formed a little team and so when we saw one of the other board the flight we shouted with excitement “yes girl” high fives and allladat.
I saw a flash of vodka be passed to the guy next to me, next thing I knew I woke up nearly three hours later with drool running down my arm into my sleeves and felt warm air rush through the door that had been open to the cockpit. I rushed off the flight as I usually do trying to avoid the massive lines that build in customs but to my pleasant surprise the airport in Montego Bay had acquired kiosk machines! I was literally in and out in 5 minutes and the second person to wait for my bags at the carousel….and I waited and waited until I was then one of the last ones waiting. One of my bags had been left in Atlanta and though naturally I was slightly annoyed it was okay because I’ve picked up the habit of not putting all my eggs in one basket, or rather not packing all of my clothes and belongings in one suitcase.
That first night at Iberostar, my mom who had arrived hours before grabbed me some jerk chicken, I took a hot shower and drank a bottle of my Dream Water. I’m not sure if it was the jet lag, the 42 hour airport hop, the hot shower or a combination of all three but I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow. I woke up like a spring flower around 7am, propped my feet up on the balcony, wrapped myself in my cotton rob and just watched the sunrise. Living in one of the densest, most populated city of the globe makes you appreciate fresh air and blue skies in the most amazing way. It felt good to just sit and listen to the dogs bark in the horizon and let the smell of faded smoke past by my nostrils to one side and on the other be met with the sound of the sea.
I was in such a great mood. I fixed my wig and put on the black tshirt that everyone else would be wearing, grabbed my camera, yelled at my sister to come on and headed downstairs to breakfast to see my extended family; cousins, uncles, grandparents. I was trying to cram as many shots of everyone into my canon until the “photographer” called me a “wanabe” photographer. Now he couldve been joking or not but I was a bit in my feelings and just waited until he left. That’s when I caught my mom and sister in the typical 90s, I’m on the beach, mom pose.
I hugged and playfully annoyed my great grandpa at every possible moment because i’m that relative…
And in return was annoyed (not really but that’s what we use for younger siblings right?) by my younger sister. Who seemed to end up in more shots than everyone else. Its fine, because next time Instagram wants to have a “10 year challenge” I will be quick with the photos!
And it wouldn’t be a family function unless I gave my father is honorary “grey hairs” as he likes to say. I texted him 2 weeks in advance and told him we would have a father daughter photoshoot on the beach. This isn’t exactly the vision I had but instead of relaxing time just seemed to fly by. That or the bartender Richard took it to heart when I called his first drink weak and proceeded to give me not 1 but 2
sneak up on ya’s stronger concoctions.
The types of drinks that make you feel like everything is normal until you end up making a pretty poor decision all within the same 60 seconds it took to the process the thought. But none the less, cheers! Because that’s what vacations are for right? What happens in Jamaica stays in me and my best friend’s group chats!
As is the norm at many if not all all inclusive resorts, there are shows to help everyone close out the night if they don’t opt for the on campus “disco”. Truthfully , I wasn’t too interested my first night and left early. All the better to prep and prime myself for my 7 am wake up call. The next night however there was a crowd inside so I popped my head in and stood next to a woman who turned to me and said “that moon walk was really amazing”
“Who?”“Michael Jackson of course”Sure enough on the stage was a man who was a spitting image of the late , great Michael. Usually these types of performance are lack luster to say the least but this time I was so wrong. I was mad at myself for not coming earlier because on the stage was one of the best renditions of Michael Jackson, and yes, down to the moonwalk which was flawless. *Cue the conspiracy theories that I really hate having to hear. I have to laugh now because I really wanted a picture with the performers but was too shy to ask, so thanks to my biggest supporter, my mom for giving it a go first.
The next morning was my last morning. After going into town to run errands with my uncle all day the day before and having to wait
damn near forever , 2 hours, to reclaim my luggage from the airport (usually the airlines will deliver it but I was standby so I had to come and get it myself), my time at the resort, enjoying a proper vacation, came to a quick close.
Within 3 hours of leaving the resort I was already crying, wishing I could just go down to the buffet and eat my weight in breakfast food.