Fall 2008 officially started this past Monday. Oddly it coincided with the fall of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. "Wamu" declared $billion debt in delinquent and defaulted mortgages. This comes after the summer when mortgage giants Fanny May and Freddy Mac went belly-up. One has to ask, "What's next?" The talk of a "depression" hit Wall Street as CEO's jumped with multi-million dollar parachutes and newly-fired employees lined the streets in a daze, boxes in hand, as they were escorted from their buildings. But no one wants to officially admit we have been in a recession for quite some time now. The feds met all through the weekend to find a Federal bail-out solution, all courtesy of the American tax payer. I imagined the Four Riders of the Apocalypse riding down Flatbush asking "Which way to the bridge?"
I turned off the morning news and went out to get my day started over coffee. As a I stood in the line listening to the buzz of worry and discontent, a familiar voice called out "Hey stranger, aren't you gonna say hello!" It was Robin, she had just come back to Brooklyn after teaching for two years in Micronesia, my home turf. She's been trying to adjust back to New York, people, pace, food... etc. Although island life sounds ideal it has it's short comings. As Robin reflected, life on Majuro isn't what she originally thought. Of the five native fruiting trees native to Majuro, two are Breadfruit and Pandanas, staples that are high in starch. Most of the local food is fried since potable water isn't always reliable.
Spam™ and ramen are usual fare for lunch and dinner. Most fresh American goods are very expensive. For that matter, the cost of anything that's air-freighted is dear — a crate of strawberries $9. Other American imports are obecity and diabetes, modern problems on an ancient island. Of the three islands that comprise the Majuro Atoll the total land area is 3.75 miles square (9.7 km²). It's hard to believe most people don't walk everywhere. On the other hand the catch of the day is always fresh and life is simple on the Marshall Islands. Coconuts and papaya are free for picking. The lagoon is always clean and warm. Robin enjoyed her time away, she loved the people, was fond of the rainy season, learned to play the uku-lele and saw glorious sunsets. Is that so bad? It must be odd to leave a quiet pastoral life to come back the sound of Wall Street crashing.
"Living in the middle of a large ocean makes you feel very small." she said. I agreed — it puts a perspective onto the scale of your humanity, especially when you are the only black woman on Majuro. Robin always calls me "brother." I like that. She stills laughs about the time the Jamaican woman from Little Miss Muffin asked if I was a "Black Chinaman." I told Robin to re-join us this winter for knitting. I still have all the yarn that she gave me before she left (and more) and whole sets of needles.