I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked this question. It’s a good one. And folks seem worried. School is basically finished (actually, it’s not until this month ends. but that’s a story I’d rather not get into). And school was my reason/pretext for moving to Amsterdam. Without school as my gravity, I find myself suspended in an area of uncertainty. Where to go? What to do? Who to be? How to find that wealthy benefactor to support the fulfillment of my remaining dreams? Yeah, folks are definitely worried.
But from my point of view, this is freedom at its best. The next steps are up to me – and only me. Of course I need to feed myself, sleep under a roof (most days), and maintain basic levels of hygiene. But outside of these responsibilities of adulthood, which sometimes can be achieved creatively, I can go almost anywhere. This is when I finally get to dance outside of that commonly-mentioned box, which my thinking already escaped long ago. And it’s going to be like one of those James Brown-fancy footwork-shimmy shake-wipe the sweat off my face-type of dances.
I’ve made some decisions about what I want in the coming months, years, and lifetimes. Some I’ve known for quite some time, such as wanting to create opportunities and broaden the horizons of young Black people. Others have evolved over time, like my belief in the impact of genealogy research. And now, here I am, being pushed, guided, and supported right into the opportunities that will allow me to live an adult life I love. Having suspended the fear of uncertainty, I’m happy to realize that the universe has been working in my favor (even on the days I’m not).
In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho has countless quotes that resonate. In this instance, I think of this: “When someone makes a decision, [s]he is really diving into a strong current that will carry [her] to places [s]he had never dreamed of when [s]he first made the decision.” Yes. Yes, indeed.
So back in November, shortly after I returned to the Netherlands from Suriname, I regretted not being able to stay for the implementation of a youth ancestry research project I had designed. I wondered how I was going to find and afford a place to stay in Amsterdam after January. And I received an incredible offer: return to Suriname…on us (well, the plane ticket)…for as long as you’re willing to stay and work on this project.
Awwww yeah. Offer accepted.
From there, life got tougher in Amsterdam, as if the city was pushing me away. Zora died. The drains in my apartment started spewing other people’s poo (literally). My bike was stolen. Money was low (well, that was nothing new – but you get the point). I needed a break. I was ready to go. Not forever. Just for a few months – say, maybe seven.
So now what? Well, I have returned to Suriname, of course. On Friday, the day after my birthday (not necessarily relevant – just important that you know), I began my seven-month stay. I’ll be working on this local ancestry project. I’ll be looking for some sustainable income. And I’ll be laying the groundwork for my very own organization that will introduce young Black people to their ancestors and new perspectives of history. And I’ll be absorbing as much warmth as Suriname is willing to share.
Once I’m finished here in September, I plan to return to Amsterdam. But while I continue to dance on the path outside of the box, as Coelho pointed out, next I might be carried to places I never dreamed of. So who knows? I’m just continuing to take this sometimes intimidating, usually nerve-wracking, always satisfying journey one step at a time.
So no more questions, please.
(just kidding. you can ask me questions. just don’t be surprised if you’re not satisfied with my answer.)