I love you, my friend
“Times are difficult,” he confesses, as his half smile masks his tired eyes. I sense the fatigue in his voice, a heavy discouragement that’s plagued an entire nation.
He points back toward his kitchen tucked behind stacked cases of Prestige and white tables with matching faux leather chairs. A layer of dust has since settled on the surface of the furniture, a tangible reminder that the material never remains pristine.
“The cost of meat is too high,” he explains as he shakes his head. His restaurant, for now, is closed.
And I believe him. The economic state of Haiti isn’t just a media headline. It’s real life. It’s real life for Jacky and for the 9 million like him who long to leave but can’t; who wait months for an appointment that could determine the course of their futures only to be denied; who have never seen the aerial view of the mountainous terrain from a window seat on a plane because their ability to travel is inhibited by the authority of a stamp of approval; who struggle to see the beauty in the midst of the pain because the fog of despair is much too dense. And I don’t blame them.
I waited with anxious hope that the travel warning might crawl back down to a 3. But April 11th came and went with no sign of change. Haiti is now lumped into a category with countries like North Korea and Afghanistan. Haiti? Yes, Haiti. She is not a hostile nation. She is indescribably, undoubtedly marvelous and yet she’s now defined by one single number that determines her value, her risk, her fate.
A glorious country, cursed by the very freedom she spilt her own blood to claim.
My heart aches for my friend, an innate entrepreneur, who transformed the corner of this gravel road from nothing to something, who possesses the talent but lacks the resources.
When people talk about job creation, I think of this man. His skills are on the tips of his fingers but the support, the infrastructure, all of it is void.
Oh, to see change. The kind of change that’s sustainable. The kind that encourages a long sigh of relief in place of cynical expectation and doubt.
It is good to see my friend. It is so good. We sit around the table and cheer, tapping our glass bottles together, to this overdue reunion. I have been gone, away from the noise and the anger and the frustration. I have felt neither the tension nor the grief but have adjusted to life in comfortable middle-upperclass America.
Jacky’s business was set ablaze twice last year. By who? Jealousy and pride, in the middle of the night when the darkness is so thick you can cut it with a knife. They swept in, unwelcome, and wreaked havoc in an instant, leaving behind a trail of travesty and devastation. I was there when it happened. Jacky’s hard work and precious investments, destroyed in a single moment. You see, success is not desirable in a country like Haiti. It is better to blend in than to stand out.
“I love you, my friend,” I tell him. Not in a romantic kind of way but in a way that says, I understand. But I don’t. And I can’t. And I won’t ever understand the gravity of this life, the one that threatens to rob any semblance of tranquility because you cannot know what tomorrow will bring in a place like Haiti.
So, I buy a few more beers not because I need them but because I long to hear the sound of the hot oil crackling in the chodye, to hear the music from the speakers again, and the laughter of men and women who, maybe for a moment, aren’t consumed by worry and fear. And because I long to see this man thrive again, to taste and savor the freedom I experience daily simply because I am privileged.
Ayiti cherie. My friends. Though you grow weary, your resilient might is unparalleled. May you cling to this hope as you wait in longing that perhaps change is, indeed, on the horizon.
April 23, 2019 – by Lauren Neal
FacebookInstagramPinterestMondesir & Tausha“Do you mind if I smoke?” she asks, as she pulls a cigarette from its pouch. Her tone of slight hesitation is also simultaneously confident, in a matter-of-fact sort of way. I appreciate her bold authenticity with a sigh of...read more
FacebookInstagramPinterestThe Seasonal ShiftThe seasonal shift is refreshing, like the dawn of a new day, outstretching its arms, offering the promise of second chances & renewed opportunities. The drear of winter gone, the trees now in full bloom—nature’s reminder...read more
FacebookInstagramPinterestThe Concept of PrivilegeBeneath the shade of the bamboo and the palm leaves, he crouches over, his concentration fixated on the task before him—the scrap metal that he will soon transform into marketable art decor, a statement piece to be...read more
Facebook Instagram Pinterest Grief & Restoration I sit at my desk, bothered by the stagnancy of this space. My concentration is lost; my thoughts, scattered; my heart, shattered. I stare at the screen, the long list of to-do’s grappling with my attention....read more
ANNE MARIE Facebook Instagram Pinterest “You’re never going to forget me,” she laughs as she continues to peel the chadek, proving to me it’s much easier to juice the fruit after it’s been stripped of its skin than it is with it on. I watch her in admiration, proud of...read more
Facebook Instagram Pinterest THE END OF A CHAPTER You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. I can still...read more
FacebookInstagramPinterestA STORY OF REDEMPTIONBefore I moved to Haiti, I believed children lived in orphanages for one of two reasons. 1. They truly are orphaned children without a living biological mother and father. 2. Their parents do not want them and thus, these...read more
Facebook Instagram Pinterest THE TRANSITION...OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT I used to believe leaving Haiti would be a beautiful transition, that God would call me away from it because He was calling me into something greater. I imagined bliss in pursuing another...read more
Facebook Instagram Pinterest home There are so many days I question why I live in this town, daydreaming about what it might be like to live elsewhere, somewhere more beautiful, somewhere more dreamy. It’s not exactly an ideal location in Haiti. It’s...read more