What I wanted, when I set out perhaps, was this sense of home wherever I went; this change in space and time that would allow me to love in a way I had not known before. I did not know what this meant but only longed for it in ways I could not define or understand.
I had often felt this undefined sense of space as a child lying in the grass on a sunny afternoon. In time, I could not tell what was my body and what was the grass. I felt myself become that grass and could see that the insects traveled easily between the grass and me as if we were one.
I became curious about this space between what seemed to be very different things and the place that they met; the edges as well as the heart of things.
I could feel this as I left the United States and returned to Haiti; this space, this edge where the two were so close together that I could feel them both at the same time and in this way experience them as one.
I had resisted this, wanting to cling to the safe, familiar things of a south Florida airport. I had wanted to eat one more time, flush toilets, read magazines at newsstands and use my phone. I moved slowly towards my boarding gate at 4:00 am after sleeping in the airport. At the boarding gate, people spoke Creole more than English, the skin color went from white to dark brown, suitcases replaced handbags. I was surrounded by piles of gifts for friends and relatives in Haiti; toilet paper, a birthday cake and boxes filled with clothes. In front of me a woman bargained about the cost of an extra suitcases while children played chase and strangers shared a common story. So much happiness in “going home to Haiti.”
We lingered there in the dark corridor until the doors opened and we were led out into the half night of a Florida sunrise.
As I walked across the runway, I could feel that which was both Haiti and the United States; could feel the tug of the immigrant as he traveled home to Haiti and could feel my own tug in both directions until I let go and let the cool air lift me into the place where the two met; that edge which could not hold me but rather, even for a moment set me free.
Perhaps it is like the moment we dive off a cliff into the river and we can feel the space between the cliff and the river. This place of floating, this edge between two totally different but connected places.
That place where I could see two countries and their people as a place where two worlds drift one into another; their tendrils, their vines, the very air connecting them.
When I was in Oregon, friends would ask me about Haiti and I struggled to explain that Haiti is the mirror in which I see myself more clearly, that edge where my life connects to a truth long hidden from my view.
Being here is sometimes the soft, gentle edge of relatives traveling home. It is the edges between pregnancy and birth, between stranger and friend. It is also the raw, naked edge of poverty caused by slavery, colonialism, dictatorships and imperialism. These things that are my country’s legacy as well as Haiti’s.
Each day I can choose to cling to boundaries or feel the gentle, undefined space where continents, ecosystems, countries, cultures and people drift one into another, collide and grow.
I want to live on this edge, in this space where things and countries and people connect.
With these thoughts, I return to my home and work in Haiti, blessed by the sweet love and tenderness of those who have walked beside me.