The idea of moving to the United States Of America became attainable after a terrible break-up. Pursuing childhood dreams of becoming an actress flooded thoughts and so necessary action needed attention. With the enrollment and acceptance processes moving faster than assumption led on, in a tight space of time, New York City became a reality.
Previous family vacation childhood visits to the United States of America simplified the adjustment. Although the emotional struggle of getting over the effects of young love and the lingering trauma of a physically and verbally abusive relationship, on some days daunted the joyous victory of living out one's dream in a place far away from home, the praise for this significant life change always kept one focused.
School sat neatly tucked between the beautifully designed buildings lining many sidewalks in the West Village, Manhattan, New York. The layered brick streets of the neighborhood provided a refreshing reminder of journeys walked, and those that are just around the corner. Settling into the school environment required little effort, and the diversity of international students encouraged a feeling of safety and security. During the time spent at this school students and friends came from, Japan, China, South Korea, Ireland, France, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Chile, Spain, England, Sweeden, Switzerland, Africa, Russia, Australia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Georgia/Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, and Scotland. Twenty two out of the one hundred and ninety-five countries that make up planet earth. This combination opened one up to a genuinely diverse way of learning and provided an opportunity to experience other cultures uniquely.
The founder of the school, Herbert Berghof, migrated from Vienna, Austria to New York City after fleeing the Nazis in 1939. Presently and at the time of attendance, HB Studio welcomed many students from all over the world. A beautiful thing to spend so much time in such a culturally diverse place. In a sense, New York City is just a much bigger version of this school. Different people of all shapes, colors, sizes, and identities. A variety of languages spoken on the trains and in public spaces, with a beautiful selection of food to complement the vibrancy of each nationality. Coming from a pretty cosmopolitan island, Trinidad & Tobago, and then living in a place with that same character but with a greater mass of diversity, felt so special.
Beyond those beautiful moments, the difference in landscape coupled with the overall vibration of the city enamored feelings of affection. Changing with the seasons, dressing for those changes and watching the first Winter snow or the ice melting in Spring increased appreciation for the impulsive decision of moving. Such a significant life change comes with its challenges, but when that sense of peace regarding the judgment comes, it overrides any lingering fears or doubt.
However, although New York City evoked good feelings, it never felt like home. A disconnection lived within and affected creativity and willful thought. Therefore, during the last year of school, New Jersey became home. The echoing of the train horns when night time came, the trees and trickling rivers and streams, the endless clubs playing house music, family and a childhood best friend Rhia, made life there so hauntingly beautiful. New Jersey is where a passion for walking, music production, and teaching came to life.
Nevertheless, a desire to return to Trinidad and Tobago and continue living there never left. Adamant about not permanently staying in the United States of America, the plan focused on finishing up the last year of school, gaining some experience in the American acting world, then saying goodbye. However, as a new love interest peeked into view, and the opportunity to secure a work permit became clear, that plan changed and so too did the place.
Welcome to San Francisco, California! The place of hills, views, and a rejuvenated sense of creativity. Almost immediately, the desire to return to Trinidad and Tobago ceased as a will to stay in California took over. One sought out the proper channels to secure a new work visa as remaining here meant maintaining functional immigration status. That then became the primary focus and brought with it some pretty challenging circumstances and a reminder of why, for some, being an immigrant in America is such a tricky thing. Living in California and experiencing two major presidential shifts brought both hope and a feeling of worry. Having migrated legally to the United States of America still provided little certainty. With some approved and some pending petitions in the immigration system, an unreliable lawyer who before taking his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York was arrested and charged with identity theft and 150 cases of immigration fraud, one of which was mine, brought a lot more uncertainty and many years of waiting.
Difficulty to maintain this zest for America came as anger and frustration with the immigration process and all of its trials and tribulations steadily grew.
Why stay then?
For the mere sake of principle; doing things the right way and following through with decisions, seeing it through until the end. Moreover, considering how much time, effort, energy, and financial investment went into procuring work permits and visas, the decision to abandon it all seemed unthinkable. Furthermore, love, friends, insurmountable learning, and development as an Enrichment Teacher encouraged deep thinking about the benefits of remaining here. Additionally, California birthed many beautiful things within. New passions and abilities emerged, and artistic endeavors became clear. A love for teaching children grew, and appreciation for my skills strengthened the necessity to stay. Life had a renewed purpose, and somehow San Francisco reawakened that. Also, love had a lot to do with it. Remaining here to stay beside someone this heart of mine craved. Romance and relationships determine many things in one's life sometimes. It's a significant part of human life, finding a mate to settle down with and celebrate the act of living.
These reminders and some deep soul searching allowed the letting go of the anger and frustration that intervened for a bit. Also, it brought a new sense of devotion and honor for the opportunity to be here still, regardless of the immigration struggles and the many years of waiting. In essence, it strengthened the personal relationship or romance with America. It also restored faith in others. Having many incredible friends here who support and understand the struggles, who exercise compassion and extend themselves in unselfish ways, really added a lovely layer of thanks for life in general.
Love has its ups and downs; however, unconditional love extends beyond that. California opened up this soul of mine to that type. It made eyes appreciate every single person a lot more, encouraged hands to take action, blessed a soul with unbound levels of creativity, and taught a mind how to embrace oneself fully. Most importantly, it reminded one of the wonders that come with a sense of belonging. Not necessarily belonging to one place, but one's journey and foreordained purpose here on earth.
So thank you, New York, New Jersey, and California! Thank you, America! Although our relationship has seen its fair share of unbalanced and balanced moments, at this moment, as fingers type these last few words, a unique sense of passion sits in this soul of mine.