Down the Rabbit Hole…

DSCF2095The more I read about tragedies in the U.S. and the more I travel the world, the more I think about leaving it all behind. There have to be places in the world that don’t tolerate atrocities like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s deaths. There must be other places where Kametra Barbour gets more than an apology, where the national news (ahem CNN) would actually carry the story of Renisha McBride’s killer being sentenced correctly, and where Lavena Johnson’s death is investigated by the government, military, and people in whose name she volunteered her life to serve and protect.  I’ll never know if life is actually better elsewhere. No traveler ever can. My citizenship always gives me the gift of a speedy exit and the privilege of choosing when to see the grit and guts of local life. But, if I had to imagine 5 cities in the world where I – an educated Black woman with a small savings, a penchant for making travel my business, and a genuine appreciation for people of all hues – would be willing to give life a new go, I’d start here…

P10509735 – JohannesburgApartheid wasn’t that long ago and South Africa is by no means perfect, but from the POV of an Af-Am woman who needs a vibrant city with opportunities galore, Jo’burg offers a lot: universities that are world renowned, a banking system that makes sense, competitive job options, and lot of Africans who know how to have a good time. The Rainbow nation rarely sleeps in this town.

* Watch scenes from SABC’s new show Sticks & Stones.

* Shop Thula Sindi

* Arts on the Cheap at WAM

IMG_04254 – Sao Paulo

I love this city! Absolutely, positively love it to pieces. Much like Jo’burg it’s a huge city with lots to offer. And, again, much like Jo’burg it has it’s racial down sides. Looking around, you might not realize that you’re in (arguably) the world’s Blackest country outside of Africa. That said though, Sampa (as it is affectionately called) is home to every walk of life that Brazil calls native. Great sushi and German food abound. Italian designs and African hairdressers everywhere. Buses filled with all shades of the spectrum. If only they could do away with that horrible accent…

* Shop Oscar Freire

* Study & get lost at USP‘s campus

* See Carnaval pix!

london town

3 – London – I’ve always said that after one has lived and loved NYC, there’s no place else to live but London. That statement still haunts me to this day. The weather and the pound make London a difficult place to call home, but aside from those two very important factors I’d be on the first thing smoking to Brixton! Just being able to go to the Tate Modern every day just might be worth those bloody cold winters. Maybe…

* I could watch Notting Hill in Notting Hill, during Notting Hill Carnival!

* Brixton is awesome.

* I could watch BBC News every day on my TV, without cable!


2 – Barcelona – I often have to stop myself from daydreaming about living near Las Ramblas and spending summers on La Mar Bella beach, for fear that I’ll just hop on a plane and never return. Talk about good food, nice people, arts beyond compare and falling in love with a city. I could start over, over, and over again in Barcelona and never get tired of the adventure.

* The Miro Foundation.

Caixa Forum exhibits.

Barca would be my hometeam!


1 – Toronto – One of the most peaceful melting pots in North America, Toronto would have to be the most likely place for me to cast away. They speak English (in addition to 139 other languages and dialects). It’s just a few hours flight from home. And they have Uber! I’d have to say it’s the most live-able and like-able city on this list. Maybe it’s just a matter of time…

* Immigration made easy. Checklist here.

* T dot has got lots of shopping options on Yonge Street.

*Never a dull moment when Rob Ford is around…



If you need help deciding where your rabbit hole should lead you, check out this Buzzfeed Quiz
‘What City Should You Actually Live In.’ I got Barcelona!

Learning (new) Love Languages

Ana Hudson is a twenty something from East Orange, NJ. Over six months ago, she joined her boyfriend in Montreal and added a new element to their otherwise long-distance relationship.  She’s found herself exploring friendships, relationships, the French language, Canadian and Haitian cultures (the beau’s family is from Haiti). What a journey!

It has been a year and a month that I’ve dated my boyfriend. He lives outside of Montreal, Quebec, Canada in a small town named Mascouche. This is a completely French Canadian town. Let me tell you, French Canadians refuse to speak any English if at all possible. It’s mind boggling because I think to myself, ‘how can we communicate properly when you don’t meet me in the middle?’ I always start with ‘bonjour, hi’ to ensure they understand I speak English. But that does not always work well.

I have had a few very short and bland conversations in English. Maybe they’re just as embarrassed in their English as I am with my French? Either way, I wish they would take the same approach as I do when it comes to these awkward moments. “Just Do It!” as Nike would say.

French isn’t the only language I’m learning to navigate. I have also found myself losing my swag in English! French is now my second language. So, I have moments of translation in my head that seem to be simultaneous with my speech. But, it’s not an easy task. Recently, I was explaining what a certain car looks like to my mom. All I kept saying was, “une voiture est…voiture, voiture mommy, oh mon dieu je ne sais pas avec moi!!” My poor mom on the other line took pity on me. “I understand Ana, the voiture.” Voiture just means car.

Beyond the language of speech there is the language of love. Being in a relationship outside of the US of A is difficult. The cost of traveling back and forth gets expensive. The time spent apart is daunting, not to mention trying to incorporate socializing with family so that time together is substantive.  It feels like everyone needs to meet your partner to confirm that you’re not dating a ghost! What about when it’s time for the relationship to grow beyond the two of you? What about the pitter patter of little feet? Oh my lawd!! A relationship of only one year can shift gears as if it’s been 5. The strain of traveling and considering the absence makes the relationship move even faster. But, if it’s definitely something worth it, you have to believe that it will work out for the best. C’est la vie!

And what happens to life back home? All the faces and places that you left behind? I always feel tense once I’m back in the tri-state. I miss the conveniences of downtown Newark, route 280, family, friends and the Parkway. Did I mention how much I miss the English language?

Long distance, transnational relationships are all about balancing love and loneliness.  There is part of you that feels free – on your own, taking a leap of faith. Doing what some others from home wouldn’t attempt to do. There is the other part that is learning a new language and culture all at the same time. In the midst of it all there’s a frustrating acceptance to achieve, to feel you belong not just in your relationship, but also within the larger culture that is most familiar to your partner.

Relationships are a balancing act and I have no magic formula.  Between English, French, love and pommes frites, I am enjoying the journey. But, there are moments when I look around and realize that I am far away from where I’m started. Most of the time, I think that’s not such a bad thing.