A long time ago, my great grandmother escaped from Barbados. At least it’s my assumption that’s how she felt. I don’t know her actual reasons for stowing away on a boat and going to another country. To have the strong will to plan that out and implement it as a 16-year-old, well I’m thinking her personality may have been too big for a small island. It makes me think of the book Small Island by Andrea Levy. Sometimes an island can be as claustrophobic as a small town when you’re dreaming big.
By all accounts, Great Grandma didn’t sound like the type to follow the rules and roles of a woman of her era. It’s not how I remember her, but she probably had mellowed by the time I knew her as a child—after all she was in her 90s by then.
Anyway, it’s a bit ironic that when I needed to escape I went to Barbados. It’s got the ocean, beaches and lush countryside—for a city dweller a perfect place to escape to, not from. Through the eyes of a visitor with family ties there it’s hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to leave such a beautiful country in such a drastic way. I know I’m seeing a modern and a wealthier Barbados, surely far different from when Great Grandma left, but even the rural, poorer areas looked picturesque to me. Typical tourist talk, I know.
My escape was short-lived, but inspiring. Her’s took her on a journey to two more countries before settling on another island—Manhattan.