Speed dating kingston 2016
The streets had their own safety: Unlike at home, there I could be myself without fear of bodily harm.Walking became so regular and familiar that the way home became home.
Predators would ignore or laugh at the kid in his school uniform speaking nonsense.) I made friends with strangers and went from being a very shy and awkward kid to being an extroverted, awkward one.The streets had their rules, and I loved the challenge of trying to master them.I learned how to be alert to surrounding dangers and nearby delights, and prided myself on recognizing telling details that my peers missed.Sometimes at night as I made my way down from hills above Kingston, I’d have the impression that the city was set on “pause” or in extreme slow motion, as that as I descended I was cutting across Jamaica’s deep social divisions.I’d make my way briskly past the mansions in the hills overlooking the city, now transformed into a carpet of dotted lights under a curtain of stars, saunter by middle-class subdivisions hidden behind high walls crowned with barbed wire, and zigzag through neighborhoods of zinc and wooden shacks crammed together and leaning like a tight-knit group of limbo dancers.On my first day in the city, I went walking for a few hours to get a feel for the place and to buy supplies to transform my dormitory room from a prison bunker into a welcoming space.
When some university staff members found out what I’d been up to, they warned me to restrict my walking to the places recommended as safe to tourists and the parents of freshmen.
I’d begun hoofing it after dark when I was 10 years old.
By 13 I was rarely home before midnight, and some nights found me racing against dawn.
A city was waiting to be discovered, and I wouldn’t let inconvenient facts get in the way.
These American criminals are nothing on Kingston’s, I thought. What no one had told me was that I was the one who would be considered a threat. When I walked I regularly had my identity challenged, but I also found ways to assert it.
The beggar, the vendor, the poor laborer—those were experienced wanderers, and they became my nighttime instructors; they knew the streets and delivered lessons on how to navigate and enjoy them.