is only one kind of human, and it is the kind that aches when it feels
I just got off the phone with my boyfriend. We spent an absurd amount
of money to talk for half an hour. I went through three phone cards and
he had to call me back twice. There is a stack of phone cards on the
chair by my bed, each one marked: '34 seconds left,' '1
minute, 10 seconds,' 'don’t use: not enough to say
Tonight he is mad because our conversation is fragmented, although he
would never admit his frustration. He calls me back when my phone finally
quits and he leaves his kisses in my voicemail.
I know he will call tomorrow morning to ask me 'Has your day been beautiful?'
He will forget that Jamaica uses Eastern Time and will wake me up at
seven in the morning. I’ll roll over to glance at the clock, verify
that it is too early to be awake, and respond, 'Now it is.'
We met across from the open market in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. Actually,
he spotted me walking on the other side of the street, and stopped traffic
to cross over to my side. I assumed that he was like all of the other
men in the city and before he said anything, I warned him that I didn’t
want to buy coke, I wouldn’t give him money and I was definitely
not interested in him. Apparently, I’m not a convincing liar.
When I came back to the United States, I told my friends that I was in
love and assumed that they would be overjoyed. In the most diplomatic
way possible, my friends congratulated me on my bi-racial relationship.
'Bi-racial?' I asked, questioning a term that smells like politics.
'Well, he’s black isn’t he?' they said.
I replied, 'He’s Jamaican, of course he’s black.'
For whatever reason, all of his qualities, his intuitive sense
of empathy, his intelligence, his six-pack forged by working
in the sun (not relaxing in air-conditioned gyms like their lovers),
were forgotten due to … what exactly?
I had never been so sure of the illusion of 'race.' My friends then cautioned
me that raising a child in this kind of 'environment' would be difficult.
All my love was now referred to as a 'situation.'
When I grew up, the plastic man figurine and the plastic woman figurine
on the top of wedding cakes were both peachy-skinned and light-eyed.
Was this what my friends had called me to remind me? To stick with my
Well, I have no desire to stick with the comfortable, white, American
men who make love with the same passion and desire comparable to flossing
one’s teeth. The wealth of America has made it possible for the
middle class to have health care, but has taken the fire out of living,
and left only a brooding, empty sense of comfort, and an unbearable sterility.
The exploitation of sex in advertising is a poor placebo for truth and
intimacy, and has marked society with an odd mixture of false expectations
and genuine prudishness. If this is what turns people on, then let them
Race, on the other hand, is not only a non-issue, but doesn’t actually
exist. There is only one kind of human, and it is the kind that aches
when it feels lonely.
The problem with my relationship is not race, it is distance. As an American,
it is easy to forget that not everyone can travel freely to any country,
speak English and trade in dollars.
When I complain about school, Shawn reminds me that I’m lucky to
have had the opportunity to learn. When I complain to him at all, I know
that I will just wind up feeling spoiled and ungrateful.
His chances of getting a visa are slim. Our relationship is doomed, not
from lack of love, but an excess of miles separating us. When it is over,
I will spend the money I would have spent on phone cards on gas, and he
will stop traffic for some other girl in Ochos Rios.
Until then, I am going to treasure every time I wake up at seven in the
morning to 'Have a beautiful morning, baby,' even if the morning would
be more beautiful if I woke up in Ochos Rios.