New Beginnings: The Day I became an Expat [Again]

It was three months ago, I sat idly yet anxiously by in the international terminal at Boston’s Logan International Airport as time dripped slowly. I thumbed across my iPhone, combing through Facebook’s newsfeed. Some post about an even newer low for Donald Trump. Another post about Special Prosecutor Richard Mueller and his investigation into Russia’s attempts to hack the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Mostly politics in my newsfeed. Pictures shared by friends…mostly selfies made of filtered faces. Nothing seemed real anymore. Neither did America nor what I thought it meant to be an American. Nothing to see here, I thought as I double-tapped the home button and closed the app.

I opened Spotify, put some Coldplay on and closed my eyes as an 18-year highlight reel of my life living in a country that was never naturally mine began to play. “Bones sinking like stones, all that we’ve fought for…” the song began as I saw myself leaving the John F. Kennedy International Airport that balmy Sunday evening after immigrating from Jamaica. I was 13 years old and brimming with hope in what was the beginning of my great American experiment. Four years later in 2003, I saw myself with my right hand raised, a Jamaican passport in my left pocket and lips moving before an American flag, just 2 years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Another four years passed and I saw myself stepping out of an airplane on a hot Texan day as a proud veteran. Next was the moment I became the first in my family to graduate with not just one but two bachelors degrees. The look on my parents’ face; all those years of fears and tears while their 19 year old baby boy was off aiding the war effort in a foreign land—for a foreign land. Then I watched as the façade collapsed with every image of young black males being cut down by police. Anger simmered inside me every time judge-after-judge, and grand jury after grand jury, snapped the neck of lady justice away from the sight of truth over and over. The American dream reduced to a heap of ashes. The final thud came during last year’s presidential election. The reel inside my head turned black. There was no way I could be part of it—the poison that filled American society. “Homes, places we’ve grown…all of us are done for” Coldplay’s Chris Martin continued.