Stuck in America
This letter was published in the Gleaner recently:
(Click below to see it in the original form.)
I remember them asking us if we wanted to see snow. We were all excited about seeing it for the first time. After we came here and experienced winter, and subsequently snow, we said to our parents "okay we are ready to go back now". That's when we found out that there was no going back. We were told that life would be better here. We wondered 'for who'?
In Jamaica, we had a big back and front yard and trees to climb. Our toes never got so cold that they burned when they were warming back up. Don't forget we also had a nice big apartment filled with relatives to try and run around in.
I decided as a teenager that I would move back to JA once I finished college. Well, by the time I finished college, I was a divorced, single mom making $30,000 a year teaching kindergarten. Time to move back now, right? Wrong! I had no money, student loans to pay back, and only very distant relatives with whom I could not live. Many of them wouldn't even know me if my parents weren't standing next to me.
So I moved to Florida where at least the pace is slower and there is no real winter. I found out the hard way that the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is almost identical to NYC, but the pay was only half of what you would make in NYC doing the same job. After they outsourced my job to people in India, I decided that I could get a higher paying job in NYC and moved back. Six months after moving back, I got a job paying just $4000 more per year than what I was making in Florida. Now one might think that you can easily live on your own while raising a child on $30,000 (I came back to the same salary two years later) is easy, but I struggle to make ends meet every month.
Bed of roses
After 27 years of living in the U.S. and going through the school system, I have no money saved and own no property. What I do have is bad credit and student loans to repay. You might think that my story happens to 1 out of 10 people, but sadly, the statistics are more like 7 out of 10. All those who might think that life is a bed of roses here and money is easy to come by, please think twice about packing up and moving here especially with children.
If you have a good job in JA and own your home, send your kids here to school or just come here to stay with a family member, work and go back home. Don't take for granted your beautiful beaches where you can de-stress, and the fruit you can pick off the trees so you never have to go hungry. Consider the concrete jungle, fast-paced life, and winter that we have here waiting for you.
I am, etc.,
Stuck in America