Just the other day, as I made my way up the hill to the entrance of Somerset Basic School, I was almost toppled over as I was swarmed with knee-high hugs from my students shouting “Miss Lindsay!,” “Good morning teacher!,” and “Miss a-come!” The principal of the school gently corrected them, saying, “You must call her Auntie Lindsay,” but I tell her that I do not mind being called “Miss” like the other teachers. “No Lindsay,” she says, “Auntie is more like family.”
Moments, and people, like these that fill my heart. But it’s not a type of filling that can be measured by how much is poured in, or how empty it still is. It is an assembling of the pieces of my heart in the right places.
There is a piece on the left side of my heart that is green and soft and gently curved like the rolling hills of Somerset. It is filled with afternoons spent walking the hills home with my students; like the day it was so hot it took all evening to walk up the road. In this piece is the day the primary school students marched up the road to the field on Sports Day, chanting their house names and raising their banners high. In it is the day I walked to school with Moses, singing “Jesus on the Telephone” and finding pictures in the clouds. In it is the evening I waited an hour for a taxi, planning with 8-year-old Douglas what we might do if a taxi never came and I stayed the night at his house.
On the right side of my heart is a smaller purple piece, filled with church music from my Sundays at Dunsinane. In this piece is the sound of bongos and Althea singing “Something in My Heart.” In it is the colorful contrast of the rough days trying to get the kids to sit still long enough to make it through a prayer, and the more recent days when the kids cheer when I announce that we are having Sunday School. In it is the tiny chapel at Dunsinane, the “Worship the Lord, Jamaica” hymnal, and the grotto. In it is Easter egg hunts, Palm Sunday, and that day 3-year-old Natel made enough loaves and fishes to feed all of Mike Town.
At the top of my heart is a multi-colored piece that looks like laughter and is filled with the energy of the kids I work with. In this piece are skipping rope contests, relay races, and running wildly with kites in hand because we just cannot wait for a windy day. In it are school lunches, lined up in colored dishes, bag juices, and color-color ice cream. In it is broken crayons and coloring books, the first letter Daniel wrote to me all by himself, a pile of blocks, the graded paper Shana Kay proudly shows me with check marks all the way down. In it is the dancing in the streets, playing football with Fr. Robin, and Amanda decorating the girls’ hair with wildflowers. Books, and jokes, and markers, and nonsense and hugs.
Somewhere in the middle of my heart is a round piece. In this piece are Tania, Kyle, Tom and Casey. In it are beaches, cliffs, long blue rivers, mountains peaks, and farms. In it is the airport, the highway, the clutch, driving into the woods to find a beach. In it are church and the apartment and the market and Auntie Alma’s dinners. In it are the late night talks in the middle of the week and all that I have learned about them and all that they have taught me about myself and that I still have left to learn. Washing dishes and watching movies and making bets and not nearly enough pictures.
There is a small midnight blue piece with Mas Seymour’s funeral inside, and a yellow piece with the teachers of Somerset, and piece with the side of the road where the pipe runs (or doesn’t) and Deon cooks chicken neck in Mike Town.
Bonnie Arbon once said, “You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else’s life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.” Most of the time, I feel like I may not know where I am supposed to fit, but I do the best I can with where I am. Jamaica has filled my heart with such beautifully unique pieces. It has taken me this long though, to realize that while my heart is being filled with new pieces, I am also trading the pieces already in my heart to fit into the puzzles of the people I come across. And I wonder what my piece looks like in their hearts.