Last night I stopped at the grocery store. I still have some baking to do, so I needed to restock. I was about to put some butter in my shopping basket when an older woman walked up and asked me what was wrong with my eye (it’s got one of those red spots you get when a capillary bursts … or whatever it is that happens that makes one of those little red splashes appear in your eye). I told her I’d woken up with it yesterday.
“Are you Jamaican?”
“No?” She gave me a long look. She was Jamaican, and I guess she thought she’d found a countrywoman in the dairy aisle (very possible in my neighborhood, of course, just wrong in this case). “You sound Jamaican.”
“Really?” This is not at all true, really, that I sound Jamaican. She isn’t the first person to say it to me, though. “No. I’m from here, from New York.”
“Born and grow?” (which is one of my favorite things that Jamaicans say)
“Yes, really. From New York.”
“What about your parents?”
“Texas and North Carolina.”
She gave me another quick once-over, shook her head. “I tell you, I don’t care about all that. You’re Jamaican.”
For the last few years I’ve been saying that I’m Jamaican in my heart. Well, I guess my heart was on display in the Key Food last night! I like that she couldn’t accept my American-ness, that she just had to have me be Jamaican. I can’t imagine why that was so important to her, but it charmed me.