Uncle Teddy called us with some good news. He was getting married. I was very happy for him but knew it would not play a major role on me getting a green card. If we were to attempt to get a green card through Uncle Teddy it would take a very long time. First he would have to file for our father, and that could take over 10 years. Then my father would have to file for us which could take another ten years being that we were over 18 years. We would also have to be un-married. Uncle Teddy would probably get through in 2 years. If you total the estimated time, you are look at over 20 years. It was a small glimmer of hope, but there is no way I was going to wait that long. I think Sue is at the point she would get married before going back to Jamaica.
A week after Uncle Teddy called an invitation came in the mail for Sue and I to attend the wedding. It was strange because we were not expecting to go. It was short notice and we did not budget to go. I did not want to fly.
I called Uncle Teddy to let him know we were not coming.
Annetta, Uncle Teddy’s fiancé picked up the phone. She was very bubbly and told me how happy she was to be marrying our Uncle. She then expressed how glad she was that we were coming. I tried to change the conversation. I asked for Uncle Teddy.
He came to the phone.
I started to explain to him that we could not come.
“Yuh haffi come” he replied “a pure white Italian people dem invite to the wedding. Unnoh haffi come”
He was whispering and talking in patois.
No one from Jamaica was coming to the wedding.
“Uncle Teddy, we never budget for this. How are we going to get there and pay for hotel? We don’t have the money”
“Nuh worry yuhself,” he replied “ hold on deh”
He put the phone down and I heard him “twanging” in the background.
He was asking Annetta to send us some money for airfare to come to the wedding. He was sweet talking her. It sounded like she was reluctant. He pleaded some more saying we were his favorite relatives. She gave in. She would buy the tickets and send to us.
He came back to the phone and was back in “full patois”.
“Heverything tek care a “, he said “Tell me which day yuh deh come an which day unnoh ago lef”
“Uncle Teddy, where are we going to stay?” I asked.
“Nuh worry bout dat. Mi ave wan empty apartment mi deh fix up an both a unnoh can stay deh” he replied.
I could not find any other excuse.
Okay let me check with Sue and see what her schedule is like. I put down the phone and went to Sue’s room.
She was excited. We would leave the Thursday night and come back the Sunday.
I picked up the phone again.
“Uncle Teddy, we are coming”
I had an eerie feeling entering the Miami Airport. The memories of the last time I was here kept coming into my mind.
“Are you okay?” Sue asked
“Yes, I am fine” I replied.
She knew I was nervous.
I was very nervous. I woke up that morning with a knot in my stomach that never went away. I barely ate most of the day. I had no appetite. I knew this was a domestic flight and nothing could happen to me since there were no immigration checks for this flight. The problem was I could not convince my sub-conscious. The memories were still there.
“You sure?” she pressed.
“Yes, I am doing fine”, I replied.
Sue was dealing with her own troubles too. Sidney wanted to go with her. He had family in New York that he would stay with. Sue did want him to go. She had plans. She had a few of her old high school friends in New York that she wanted to see. They were going to hang out and go clubbing. For days he bothered about it. He pleaded and begged to go. It was pathetic. It was shameful to see a man begging in that way. The only thing that came to my mind was the Keith Sweat song “There you go telling me No again”
There you go tellin’ me no again
There you go (There you go), there you go
I wanna be (No, no, no, no, no) more than just your friend
Don’t you know, don’t you know
He seemed offended that she did not want to take him. It seemed to not want to take no as an answer. He brought flowers. He brought perfume. He told her about the things he could buy for her while there. He told her he could drive her around because he knew New York well. She stayed firm. He was upset and did not come to the airport to see her off. She made it seem like it did not upset her but I know it did. I think she was starting to fall for him because he worshipped her.
I had not problems. Rosa was too busy to probably miss me for 4 days.
We went to the ticket counter to check-in. My memories of showing my fake documents came back. I went in to the “respectful tone” when the lady at the ticket counter asked me questions. I answered yes ma’am to all her questions. I was overly polite. I know she was not an immigration officer but my memories of the past were still there. I talked to the ticketing agent like she had the authority to deport me.
Everything went smooth and we boarded the plane within an hour. I strapped in and more memories came back. Sue was beside me and she did a good job keeping me distracted. All the way to the New York we talked about our memories of school in Jamaica. We talked about Uncle Teddy. We laughed a lot. I think the people around us were staring but we did not care. We sometimes are so busy that we never talk to each other even though we live in the same apartment.
We arrived at JFK airport on time. The airport was huge however we walked right out the gate to the outside.
Uncle Teddy was waiting for us. He gave Sue a hug and gave me a big handshake.
I almost did not recognize him. He looked different. He was more refined. He was shaven. His hair was cut low and a little wavy. He looked younger.
You could see the excitement in his eyes. He was happy to see us. He told us to wait on the curb while he went to get the car.
Sue and I sat there waiting. There were yellow cabs everywhere.
A brand new, black, BMW 3 series pulled up in front of Sue and I. I could not see the driver as it was darkly tinted. It was probably the illegal tint. The car door opened and Uncle Teddy came out.
He saw the look on our face.
“Yuh like mi cyar?” he smiled.
We got in and were off. Uncle Teddy drove like a mad man. I soon realized that all New Yorkers drove crazy. He was blasting reggae music from the radio and on his cellular phone. I tried to look outside through the dark tint. All I saw were tall building. They were everywhere. It seems there was no open space. There homes like you had in Miami. It was late evening and dark but I could tell that many of the building were red brick.
We pulled up in front of a high-rise building. There was a door-man who came out and opened the door for us. A valet came out and took the car. We walked into a beautifully decorated lobby to an elevator. It was like a hotel.
We came off on the 22nd floor and walked a few feet to a door. Uncle Teddy was fumbling to find his keys. We were quiet. We were already in shock at how luxurious the place was. We waited in anticipation. He opened the door and turned on the lights.
“Wow” I thought.
The view was amazing as we walked in the room. You could see the city lights from anywhere in the apartment. Uncle Teddy showed us around even though there was not much to show. It was a studio apartment with 1 bed room and a balcony overlooking the city. I think part of it was that he wanted to “show off”.
Uncle Teddy mentioned that he convinced Annetta to buy the place. He and a crew fixed it up. He was going to rent it. He mentioned they had brought a few more places to rent. He bragged that they would make a ton of money.
The topic changed. He asked how we were doing in school, etc. We tried to catch up but we kept getting interrupted by his cell phone. He would answer and walk out to the balcony.
He would apologize “A business, yuh know how it go”.
We were hungry.
“Unnoh want some Chinese” he asked.
“Yes” we replied simultaneously
He took us to a place called WoHop in China town. The food was very good. It was the best Chinese food I had in years. The drive back almost ruined the meal. New Yorkers drive worse than Jamaicans in Jamaica.
The next morning Uncle Teddy came for us. He was going to give us a quick car tour of the city. I was able to see two of the main sites; the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. He took us through Flatbush, Brooklyn where he explained there was a large Jamaican population. He stopped there to see a few of his friends. Even though it did not look like Jamaica it felt like it around his friends who were on the corner.
One of the friends he stopped at was planning his bachelor party for the night. Uncle Teddy whispered in my ear that they were going to a strip club. Sue was going to visit with some friends that night while I went to the bachelor party. I really did not want to go because it would be an all night affair especially after Uncle Teddy had a few drinks.
Our final stop was at Uncle Teddy’s fiancé Annetta’s house. He had been living there with her.
The home was in Manhattan. I later learned that the neighborhood was called Little Italy. It was a simple place compared to the apartment building we were staying at. It was an older red brick building in a neighborhood that had many businesses. We parked in the front and went upstairs to the 3rd floor. We were greeted by a plump blond haired woman with a smile that would melt your heart. I liked her instantly. She hugged us tightly and kissed us. In Jamaica we would say “Mi spirit tek to her”.
She wanted to feed us. She had baked Italian ziti. She kept saying we were so skinny and needed to eat more. She asked questions about us, our family and Uncle Teddy. She showed us pictures of her family and told us about her life growing up I New York. She was a cross between a mother and a grandparent that spoils you. She was engaging, opinionated and funny. There was also something very strange about her mannerisms. It was something familiar. She asked questions and gave her opinion like a Jamaican would. Dominating the conversations at time and not “mincing” words. I wondered if it was Uncle Teddy rubbing off on her or was this how the typical Italian person is like. When we left to go back to the apartment I thought to myself how lucky Uncle Teddy was.
Uncle Teddy took us back to the apartment and left. He would call me later and pick me up for the bachelor party. Sue and I had some time to ourselves before the evening activities.
We took a walk to a nearby storefront.
I did not want to go to the bachelor party and Sue knew I did not want to go. I needed an excuse.
“Can I come with you tonight?”
“You know how Uncle Teddy gets when he is drunk”
“You don’t want to hang out with a bunch of old men” she laughed.
“No” I replied
“You don’t want to go to the strip club and see naked women?” she was teasing me now.
“No” I replied.
“Okay, you can come with me” she replied.
I was happy. Night clubbing in New York was better than hanging out with a bunch of old drunk men. I already figured out a way to tell Uncle Teddy I was not going. I would say I needed to keep an eye on Sue to make sure no one harasses her. The big brother protecting little sister always works.
Sue’s friend, Dionne picked us up at 11:00 pm that night. She looked very different than how I remembered her in Jamaica. She was fair skinned with a little Afro when I remembered her in Jamaica. She was on the Campion swim team and always won her races. She was a hero on campus because of wins at swim Champs. It was one of the few things that my school won. We also won badminton but it was not really a popular sport in Jamaica. The swim champs was the closest thing we had to a popular sport we could win.
Dionne was now fairer, her hair straight and she was stick thin. She could almost pass as Spanish or a white girl. She was dressed in a micro-mini skirt and high heels. It was a sign that we were not going to a Jamaican club. Dionne sounded like an American. If you heard her over the phone you would think she was a white American lady.
She gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek.
As we rode down the elevator she looked at me with a big smile.
“When I heard you were coming I was really excited as the girls I hang out with are really wild and we need a man to protect us.” She giggled.
There was a Mercedes waiting for us on the curb. The door opened and there were 2 very attractive blonds in the car. They were all dressed similar to Dionne. Their names were Heather and Carly. I would be sitting in the back seat with them.
Once I was in the car Heather started to ask me questions.
“Is this your first time in New York”
How do you like it so far?
I was thinking she was going to progressively ask questions to get to know me. She went for the kill.
“Do you have a girlfriend back in Miami?”
Sue head swung around and gave me a look. She was in the front seat “catching up” with Dionne.
“Yes” I replied.
“Oohh what a pity. You look like a nice guy. I have never had a Jamaican boyfriend before”
I did not know what to say.
Carly chimed in “Yeah, Dionne never takes us to the reggae club or to any Jamaican places”
Heather replied “She says all Jamaican men are dogs”
Dionne was smiling as she drove.
“You girls stop it. I wanted you to not start drinking that early” she smiled.
I later learned from Sue that Dionne had practically given up on everything Jamaican. She had a Jamaican boyfriend when she moved to New York. They lived together for a while. They were engaged to get married. She gave up opportunities to study law upstate for him. His father had a business in Jamaica and the plan was for them to move back there once they got married. They were together for 5 years. She found out he was cheating with 5 other women. She vowed she would never go out with a Jamaican again.
The club was about 20 minutes from where we were staying. It probably would have been quicker if there was not so much traffic. It seems like New York is a traffic magnet. Dionne complained that if we were familiar with the subway she would have asked us to meet her at the club.
Heather was still asking me questions as we walked into the club. I wanted to get in and get away from her. I would find a nice comfortable place inside to observe and enjoy the music. I soon realized that was not going to happen. The club was not an urban, house or reggae club. The music was hard edged rock and progressive. It was not my type of music I would ever listen to. I broke away from the girls who found a booth and went to the bar.
I ordered a drink and tried to get the “vibe” but could not. It was not the type of club I would ever be caught in. I listened to all types of music growing up in Jamaica but once I got to the US I just seem to have a different appreciating for reggae and R&B.
“Are you enjoying yourself” a voice from behind me asked.
It was a brunette with tattoos all over her body and a few piercing in her face.
“You don’t have to lie” she replied.
“Why do you say that?”
“You look like a fish out of water. I hear an accent. Where are you from?” she asked
“Jamaica” I responded. I was not going to answer the fish out of water comments because it was true.
“I have been to Jamaica before. I loved it. The music the people are great. Are you here visiting?”
“No I live here”
“Ohh , your accent is very strong so I thought you were still living there”, as she sipped on a beer.
For the rest of the night she and I talked. It was an engaging conversation. She knew a lot about Jamaica. She visited quite a few times. She talked about the tribalism in politics and how it has destroyed Jamaica. She talked about US politics and the Caribbean. She was deep. The music was not good but the conversation was engaging.
I am not sure what time it was but Heather came over.
“We are ready to go”
I did not get the name of the tattooed girl but she saved the night. Well so I thought.
We are going to a second club.
As soon as we got inside Heather was by side at the bar.
She was drunk and talking a lot. This was what I was trying to avoid by not going to Uncle Teddy’s bachelor party.
“Why don’t you like me?”
I shook my head. I did not want to argue with a drunk person.
Then she got a little nastier.
“You don’t like me because I am white”
I did not answer.
“Don’t you want to sleep with me? I hear you Jamaican guys are great in bed”
I walked away and she followed me.
Sue, Dionne and Carly were on the dance floor dancing with men. I was hoping one of them would see me and come to the rescue.
It would be a longer night. She kept talking and coming on to me. The only thing she did not do was touch me.
On the ride back to the apartment she fell asleep in the car. The car turned and she fell in my lap.
What a night. I hope the wedding tomorrow is a better day.
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