I received my driver license 6 months after getting my restricted license. After my break up with Sherri-Ann I put my energies into driving. I had practiced with Richie’s car. He took me to get my license. It was a breeze. I made an appointment so I did not have to wait in a long line. The test was not very hard. The most difficult part was the parallel parking. I had done it so many times that I got it in one shot.
The day after getting the license something changed. I became bored with school. I was about a six months away from finishing my courses. I just did not care anymore. I was not motivated to go to class. I started to think about what I would do with my life. I was limited because I was an illegal alien but I knew I did not want to be a truck driver.
It was around this time of “deep” reasoning that my father called to say he was coming up with my sister to get her into college. She would be applying to Broward Community College. They would fill out the college application, get an acceptance letter and go back to Jamaica try to get a student visa. My father said if she got through he would rent an apartment for us both to live in. It felt good to know he had that type of confidence in us living on our own. I also was dying for more freedom.
I was excited about them coming. It would give me a chance to get my mind off my future. I was also still worried about my SSN card. I was still using the old one and if the government contacted Winn Dixie I would be in trouble. My father said he would take care of it when he gets here.
My father and sister would not stay at Aunt Fern’s home. My father he did not want to impose. They were going to stay at house in Miami Lakes. My father’s friend who was an Air Jamaica pilot owned the house. It was his second home. He used it occasionally when he had a stop over in Miami. The plan was for them to rent a car, pick me up and I would stay with them. I took 3 days off from work to spend time with them.
I could not wait to see them. I told Mary-Ann that my family was coming. She wanted to meet them. I felt a little strange about that and told her we may be too busy.
Our relationship had grown since my break up with Sherri-Ann. It has been on the brink of going to another level but I just could not. Part of it is the break up with Sherri-Ann and guarding myself but the main part was the race issue.
We had gone out a few times to the movies. To me that was safe as we could hold hands and even hug in darkness of the theatre without the piercing stares. It could be me being paranoid but it just seemed that way. As soon as we stepped out the theatre I was reluctant to hold her hand. On one of our dates she leaned over and kissed me. I pulled away and pretended I was interested in the movie. I did not want to go to another level with the relationship just yet. After the movie she asked me if everything was okay. I reassured her it was and held her hand for the rest of the way. I became a little less conscious as I did not want her to sense anything was wrong. It actually felt good but I still was cautious.
The next time we went out we did a double-date with Richie and one of his Spanish girlfriends. It was very comfortable in the group. Richie’s girlfriend Myra was funny. She was Puerto Rican. She and Mary-Ann got alone just fine. At one point while they were talking Richie mentioned to me it is easier to go out with a Spanish girl.
“Less staring because they look like a browning,” he laughed. “Some Spanish girls look closer to black than white”
I know he was ‘drawing’ cards on me but I think he meant it. This did not help.
The arrival day of my father and sister came quickly. They were on the last Air Jamaica flight. It was late as usual. I could never get through on the phone to get an estimated time of arrival. I am sure Aunt Fern could see the excitement on my face. She stayed up with me that night. Occasionally I would look out the window. I was half asleep when I heard a car pull up outside.
My father was coming up the walkway. As I opened the door my sister ran in and hugged me. My father shook my hand. Aunt Fern was right behind me. My father had bags in his hand. He brought patty and other Jamaican items for Aunt Fern.
My sister and I talked while Aunt Fern and my father had there own conversation. It was very late so my father suggested we let Aunt Fern get some sleep. He promised here he would be back to see everyone before he left. He was probably going to talk to her about me.
My sister and I kept talking all the way to the house in Miami Lakes. She told me about my friends, teachers at school, our neighbors and everyone in Jamaica. By the time we got to the house we were both tired. The house was nice. It was in a gated community. It had a pool. It had 4 bedrooms. We each had our own room. My sister and I spoke until about 4.00 am that morning.
The next morning we were off to Broward Community College. My father had made an appointment with the international student coordinator before he left Jamaica. The campus was large and had a small airport next to it. The International Student coordinator’s name was Linda. Her office could only fit 2 people so she suggested I go to the student club fair on campus. I took her up on the offer as I felt a little left out because I knew I could not go to college.
As I walked in the direction of the fair I could hear a familiar sound. It was dominoes being slammed on a table. I could see tables set up like booths in an enclosed area. I was drawn to the sound. As I got closer I could see the names of organization on the booths. The sound was coming from the booth of the American West Indian club. There some guys playing dominoes on a table behind the booth.
Young ladies at the booth saw me.
“Are you a new student”?
“No” I replied
“Are you applying for school”?
Without thinking I replied, “Yes”
“Where in Jamaica are you from” she asked
“I am from Kingston” I replied. It was typical to recognize another Jamaican just by how they looked. I had gotten used it. I could pick a Jamaican out of a crowd of people.
With a big smile she said, “When you become a student come join the American West Indian club”.
“Okay”, I replied. She was very pretty but I really was not really into the mood for conversation. I was distracted by the domino game.
“Oh my name is Michelle, I am the president of the chapter”
By now I was engulfed in the conversation the domino players were having.
“You can have some refreshment and join the game”
“Alright” I replied. Not realizing how rude I may have been.
The domino players were discussing Jamaican politics amongst themselves.
One said “Seaga destroy the county. Another said, “Is Manley destroy the country”.
It was a very stimulating discussion. The type of discussion that sometimes took place between my father and his friends over a drink. I was not old enough to participate in those discussions. Also it was not very interesting back then. Everything Jamaican just seemed more interesting since I left Jamaica. I listened intently and could feel an excitement inside. It was at this point I told myself I was going to go to college.
I wanted to stay and play dominoes but I had to get back to my father and sister.
As I walked away doubts crossed my mind. I started to think of how ridiculous the idea of me going to college. I had no papers to do it.
My timing was perfect. They were just finished up when I walked in the office.
Linda asked “what about your son. Will he be applying as an international student”?
My father replied, “He is not an international student. He is a citizen but he is working now.”
I was a little shocked at what my father had said it but I learned not to give any signs of nervousness.
She picked up an application and handed it to my father.
“It should not be a problem. When he is ready have him fill this out and mail in back to us,” she responded.
“Thanks but he won’t need that right now” he replied.
I was tempted to say something but held my tongue. Even though I lived at Aunt Fern I had some independence. I had responsibilities and felt I could have said “No” on my own. I felt like my father was controlling my life. I kept silent.
The rest of the day was spent shopping. We were to the malls, Kmart and downtown Miami. When we got back to the house my father called Charlie to talk about my SSN card. While he was on the phone my sister and I swam in the pool. We were both good swimmers. She won a few medals for Campion at swim champs.
We stayed up late again that night just talking. She really was excited about the possibility of coming. She also asked me about Sherri-Ann. Word had gotten back to her about our relationship. I told we were friends but did not get into any of the details. She asked if I was going to her wedding since I was a good friend. She knew the answer but just wanted to pry. I am sure she knew there was a relationship.
The next day my father said we had some business that we had to take care of. Apparently Charlie told him I need to apply for a voter’s registration card. We went to the city office of Margate. I filled out the application for a voter’s registration. I showed them my driver’s license and police ID. They asked if I was a US citizen and I said yes. I was sworn in right there. It was really easy to lie. I had gotten used to it. The lady that swore me in told me the card would be sent to me in a week.
On the way back to the house my father explained that the voters registration card would make it easier for me to pass as a citizen. The bells in my head went off. Maybe I can use this along with my driver’s license to apply for college.
The 3 days my sister and father were here went by quickly. I was back in my normal routine of work, school and talking to Mary-Ann on the phone every night.
A month after my father left my new social security came in the mail. It meant I would have to look for a new job. Charlie had told me that changing the social security number at my current job would be suspicious. It was better to find a new job.
I never thought I would say this but I loved working at Winn Dixie. I had a good routine there. I loved working with the other stock guys. I had learned so much from Leroy. I think he knew that I knew he was illegal. I know he knew I was illegal. We just never said anything. I learned many tips on surviving as an illegal alien from him. The thought of looking for a new job was not something I was looking forward to.
Two months after my sister’s visit she got the approval for a student visa. She would be coming at the start of the next semester, which was 3 months away. I was happy for her.
While the news was good I also wanted to go to college. I know part of it was jealousy of my sister but most of it was for me to gain confidence. I needed a challenge. Since moving here it has been one disappointment after the other. I need something positive to happen. The Black Uhuru song “What is Life” came to mind.
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