Last year this time, I could only anticipate this future I am currently in; sitting in a beautiful guesthouse in Cape Town, South Africa. I have no clue what my next year will be like, or the next 5 years. Of course I have dreams and goals, and a slightly too detailed plan of what I want and expect out of life, but who’s to say that what I want and expect is what I’ll get?
On speaking of my future, I can be very optimistic. I have a family that loves and supports me. I go to an amazing school, hoping to get a degree that resembles a golden ticket in America. I have unbridled opportunities, and even more so here in Cape Town.
I wake up at 8:15AM and grab breakfast provided for me by the bed and breakfast staff. I walk 30 minutes to work with Michaela and we chat and laugh and trade book recommendations, sometimes we go to the Book Lounge. We get to work and pop in our AirPods and get moving. By 12PM, we’re packing up and heading for lunch where we drop ZAR100 easily at a swanky lunch place or a cutesy coffee shop. We get home from work around 3:30PM and my room is clean. My bed has been made. My trash has been thrown away and my clothes- dirty or clean- have been folded neatly on top of my suitcase. My bathroom is spotless. I lounge around, read, chat, play cards and then end up dropping another ZAR200 easily on dinner with everyone else.
I have become so accustomed to a routine of luxury here. One I did not have in America, nor in Jamaica. It is almost as though I have forgotten that not even 5 minutes away from here people are at wits end in a land occupation- fighting for the land that truly belongs to them, or that there is a small boy that I see every day asking for money and food. In Cape Town I forget the realities of the majority of those who live here. No one is cooking them breakfast, nor do they have the luxuries of walking 30 minutes to work. They have to catch a taxi and then a bus and then the train and another taxi to work and back every day. No one is making their bed and folding their dirty clothes.
This weekend, I rode in a taxi with our site coordinator Naledi from the V&A Waterfront to town, where we walked to the Civic Center and then caught the 106 bus to Camps Bay which dropped us 1 minute away from the b&b. That trip, maybe over an hour long cost me ZAR10, the equivalent to around 66 cents in USD.
Walking through the CBD, I was immediately taken back to days of picking up my great-grandmother and grand-aunt downtown after their bus ride from Santa Cruz to Kingston and the few bus trips I had with my great-grandmother from the art gallery she worked at in New Kingston to her home where I’d wait for my mother. She would always buy me KFC. Even then I was experiencing all this from a place of privilege. I was not the one taking the bus from Santa Cruz, I was merely riding in the car that was picking them up. I went with my great-grandma by choice, because it would be a fun experience, not out of necessity.
So what I see for myself in the future, what I want for myself is awareness. To not forget my place of power (despite how limited it may seem in the US) and to never become complacent. And whatever the future holds for me, may it be a future in which I use my power to help those who were never afforded it.