Written on June 3, 2020
During my young adolescence days, summertime was an awesome occasion for me and many other kids to create unforgettable memories. As a youth, I would anticipate the start of the summer season, cherish every adventure that it had to offer while it lasted, and ultimately weep when it came to an end. I must admit that 1996 was a very hard summer to beat in terms of fun, empowerment, and personal growth. I had been plunged into the American culture in a very authentic way. During my stay in Maryland, I developed a desire to deepen my connection to America and its way of life. So, after that memorable vacation, I spent the following months immersing myself into Hip Hop music and its culture like never before. The consumption of that art form made me reminisce about the good times spent with my US family and I was looking forward to going back out there. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The three following summers after ‘96 were pretty disappointing. However, some life changing moments deserve to be highlighted. Let me share a unique event that occurred in 1999 (if I remember well), when my grandfather visited us from Haiti for the first time.
I recall being at one of my soccer games and putting on a great performance (as usual). After the referee blew the final whistle, we all rushed to the sideline to celebrate our victory as a team. As I looked to my right towards the crowd stands, I noticed my father, my uncle, and an old man standing right between the two of them. I walked in their direction with a lot of uncertainty and saw that the old man had an enthusiastic smile on his face; but as I got closer to him, his facial expression was morphing into a frown. Once I finally reached my three relatives, my father pointed at the elderly person and said, ‘’Do you know who this is? This is your mom’s father, Grandpa Biron’’. I then shifted my attention to my grandfather and timidly reached my hand out to greet him and said to him, ‘’Hey, hi Papa Biron!’’. To my surprise, he rudely placed his index finger right under my bottom lip and pushed it upward as if he was trying to shove my lip down my throat. Afterwards, he said to me, ‘’Close your mouth when you walk around, son. If you leave your mouth open and let that bottom lip hang, you will end up looking like a baboon.’’ I could not believe it; he did not even make the effort of saying hi first…the man went straight to the lip-tucking attack! Prior to that shocking moment, my only interactions with my grandpa were through cassettes! YES, YOU READ IT WELL! WE DID NOT SPEAK ON THE PHONE BUT INSTEAD SENT EACH OTHER VOICE RECORDINGS ON CASSETTE TAPES…HAITIAN STYLE! Those long-distance calls were not affordable at the time.
After that introductory event of meeting my mother’s father for the first time, a weird vibe had taken place between him and I. On our way back home from my soccer match, we both sat in the back of the car and exchanged very few words. I was frustrated. I could not understand what the big deal was; I simply had the habit of breathing through my mouth after a game due to the fact that I was exhausted. Nonetheless, my noticeable tiredness did not seem to matter to the old man. In his eyes, it was plain and simple; learn how to breathe through your nose, little man, because if you don’t, your lips will become so huge that you will eventually have a ‘’Gwo djiol’’…which is Kreyol for big a** lips.