About a month before our flight was to depart from JFK International, the headlines in all the international newspapers and media outlets were,"Kingston under Siege"...or something to the same effect. Our phone rang off the hook, "Are you postponing your plans?" "You aren't really going to move now are you?!" "Will you be near where the attacks are taking place?". Our email inboxes were filled with similar inquiries and exclamations. We were patient and kind in our replies...they were just concerned friends and family members after all. But trying to explain what was happening and why and more importantly why we were still moving forward with our plans was more difficult. The political situation that brought Kingston to a State of Emergency is deeply rooted and very complex.
Similarly, the reasons for our move are also deep and complicated. You see, we had reached what could only be described as rock bottom. We were without stable jobs, without savings, without medical insurance; carrying a heavy debt burden along with a four year old and another baby on the way AND living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. So something drastic had to happen or we would have crumbled under the pressure. Like the JDF, we took control of the situation and called our own State of Emergency. We began making calls to friends and family abroad to find out what the cost of living was like. We also researched medical care (which is universal, affordable, accessible, and great!), education, employment and taxes. Mo diligently created an outline for a budget comparing our US expenses with those in JA. We established that we could afford to live in a nice neighborhood in the nation's capital, pay for a great education for Shine, have outdoor space for the kids to play and still have something left for a "rainy day" at the end of the month. (And Baby Q could be born without having to pay tens of thousands of US dollars. )(And Warrior and Earth Mother would finally have their father near by as well as a loving extended family...)
Signs began to appear everywhere telling us that this would be the best decision for us. From Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" playing in the coffee shop on my way back to work one day after a long lunch break of discussing our plan, to Damian Marley's "Welcome to JamRock" blasting from a studio window on an otherwise empty winter campus, to finding the suitcase we so desperately needed in our building's recycling room just an hour after saying, "We really need another suitcase". But the biggest sign by far, was Mo's serendipitous job offer at a prestigious firm in downtown Kingston. What began as a casual phone call to explore the kinds of job opportunities available, Mo was transferred to the chief architect who just happened to be coming to New York City the next day for a conference at Columbia. They met for coffee and Mo took his portfolio and came back with a job offer.
So, here we are. On what was essentially, a wing and a prayer, we took the leap as a last ditch effort to try to save our selves. I think it is fitting that we have landed in Kingston at a time when the city is going through it's own purging and rebuilding. The sentiments of the people here are that "it was about time this happened" and "now Jamaica can rebuild and be stronger and more secure". I'm feeling the same way about us. We now have the opportunity to put back our foundation and really grow and thrive like the lush vegetation that is all around us.
Peace and Wellness,