BECOMING MR KINGSTON BELLE (part1)

Primary school, bag juice and patties, sabbath school, glass bottled soda, beach trips, baked things, fried things and things made with Coconut – this was my childhood from 1993 to 2005. Living in a Jamaica where pizza delivery is a fairy-tale, things like school trips and ‘drive out’ wid your farrin uncle were ambitious two-way flights to someplace brighter. I grew up on the very vibrant Berrett Avenue in Kingston 2 in a two-story brick house. In 1999 my family moved up north to St Andrew. The sprawling Westminster 5 bedroom we then called home had a huge front yard, car port and 13 foot ceilings. Settling into the vicious uptown lifestyle of chartered cabs, prissy parties and fast food joints was terrifying. Sunday dinners became lazy and predictable; rice and peas and KFC chicken or island grill jerked chicken and festivals. We fast lost everything that made me very very happy.

High school was a bore, Camperdown was a noose around the neck of a guy like me. I powered my way through that and bolted the first chance I got and never looked back. Living as an 18 year old high school graduate with a hodge podge of experiences and cultural influences I was predictably very versatile. But I remember always wanting to belong to an exact place and be a precise ingredient to a very special product. I wanted my unique, vibrant and urban identity back.

I dived into 2015 with that –my past- on my mind and heavy in my heart. I was terribly lost and jaded as I felt like I had by now lost my story. As I approach my departure from the tropics I was hopeful I’d be able to reach back and grab my favourite things from my childhood and wear them (the experiences and culture) proudly.

Spring and summer 2015 taught me the language of nature, how to understand space, live in the moment and create concentrated memories of a time and place. Stumbling upon a really cool and disparate beach land in St Catherine to finding friendship in tiny hotel rooms with city views of generators and building backs – that has been my summer 2k15.

The terrific recapturing of my youth in all its colours was made possible thanks to my new love affair with soca music and fetes, truck stop dinner situations with friends and untamed country trips. This is the closest I’ve come to the best years of my life. I’ve come to realise that what I needed to do was not to force myself to relive and remember rollington town but to grow up and share experience with new people, find new favourite things and discover new places to call home. I feel Jamaican, Caribbean and West Indian again, I now belong. I can now passionately and intelligently speak of and represent where I come from. I’ve found my life’s spice and dutch pot. This West Indian Jamaican is ready fi di world with no doubt he will be changed by super cultures no matter how glitzy. I am Mr Kingston Belle.