It was another warm, sunny day in Barbados. I was in a tiny house made of wood. It was shaped simply like one a second grader would draw. In Barbados they referred to these houses as “board houses”. In other words, made from boards of wood. As opposed to a “wall house”, that was a bigger house made of concrete and bricks. There was a narrow doorway with no door that separated the front living room area from the rest of the house. In the living room there were two chairs, a couch and I remember a record player. The rest of the house was only two bedrooms and a kitchen. I don’t remember the bathroom. Did it have an inside bathroom? It must have. However, the memory of kerosene lamps lit at night makes me think that there was not electricity yet.
The doorway with no door was the perfect size for my little body to fit if I laid on my back with my knees bent. Which I did. I clasped my hands and rested them on my belly. “This is my bed!” I announced to the adults. They were forced to step over me to get by. I do believe that stepping over someone is considered bad luck in Barbados. However, they kept the integrity of my pretend bed in tact (small children have a way of commanding and directing adult imagination, don’t they?). What I remember most is that after tiring of my bed, I sat in a chair by the right window of the two windows with shutters in the front of the house. I sat patiently watching outside until someone passed by. “HI!” I shouted loudly as I waved to the passer-by. Tirelessly, I sat perched at that window screaming hi to anyone and everyone who passed by. This is my first memory. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts just about when my parents were going to give up on gaining legal status to stay in the United States. They had been illegal immigrants in the US for a while. We went back to Barbados for a few years while they worked on getting “straight” as they called having proper paperwork to stay and work in the US.
Thank goodness Mitt Romney wasn’t president then. Apparently, though he was off in France playing missionary to avoid the Vietnam draft, I’d now be forced into military service as “a road to earning citizenship” in a country I was born in. Today, I am a proud citizen of the United States and Barbados as are my parents. Don’t worry Mittens, they came here with nothing, worked hard and are retired back in Barbados. They never considered themselves victims and certainly didn’t look for or ever get handouts.