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Pon di oustop

The Eastern View, Blue Mountains

Around dusk at my new home, I climb pon di oustop* to see Kingston turn on her lights as the dimming sun shoots pink, purple, and peach across the sky. 

Kingston begins to sparkle like a diamond that catches the sun’s rays and refracts them to all eyes watching, reminding me of colder nights spent crick-necked with a crêpe in hand as I stared up at the Eiffel Tower glittering in the City of Lights.

Kingston beyond, the Western View
The western view, with Kingston beyond.

It’s a funny thing, to be reminded of the past by a shimmer, a passing breeze or a scent. But what is a human if not an amalgamation of senses, emotions and reflections?

When I moved to the mountains, every town square seemed to be named “_____ Gap.” Sitting on my roof, looking at Kingston in front, and the Blue Mountains behind, I watched our town in the middle. People walked to the store, went to church, and lived their lives in this mountainous gap.

Observing these back-and-forths, I suddenly understood the meaning of gap — a space between the mountains where light, sound, and life came bursting forth, a pause in nature’s design that humans claimed with their quotidian rituals, going to and from, all the while up and down, around the sides of the gap. A gap is a space, but it’s far from empty.

I like seeing how life goes on in my gap. I like smelling the fog as it comes in and erases Kingston from view, thick and yet diffuse, forcing me to imagine her lights and buildings shimmering beyond the veil. The conversations a gap** require apt attention too; a baby crying while my host family shouts in Patwaa*** outside my door makes it difficult to follow what’s going on.

I like hearing the baby cry, not because I think he’s hurting, but because it reminds me of life, how precious it is, and how hard it is to stop. You have to keep on living, the way this fog can’t help but seep into my room and chill my toes, making me wonder if I should buy gloves for winter.

Setting sun, View from my home
The setting sun (view from my home).

Often we live in the present, but not in the moment. We’re caught up in worries, tender thoughts of loved ones and the fear of missing out, but we miss the playful eruptions of mirth from our 3-year-old host brother, the fog dancing into our bedroom from the storm across the mountain, the smirk our admirer betrayed when we told an inside joke. It’s a fine thing to reflect and live cerebrally, but what when you have no life upon which to reflect?

Sitting with Ed, my half-Labrador bestie in the mountains, I heard a truck honking in warning as it rounded a bend, then heard its echo two and three times over, the echoes overlapping with the original honk to sound a serendipitous chord only nature could create. On the other side of the gap in which our community lies, I heard the shouts of young men playing football. I could almost hear their conversation, but it was too muffled for my ears.

The sun was setting, but I wasn’t sitting on my roof. Instead, Ed and I looked east to the mountains, Kingston sparkling behind us. I hadn’t gone outside until that moment, and as I sat, petting Ed and watching the light ease up, I breathed. One moment, one breath, one love. This is my Jamaica.

*on the roof
**in the gap
***Patois, Jamaican