Skyhopping, Alessia Potovsky

Something about the hissing of the onions, scallions, garlic, and country pepper

no – scotch bonnet, it’s scotch bonnet pepper here.

Something about the hissing of the onions, scallions, garlic, and scotch bonnet pepper in the pot on the stove serve as white noise.

Remember, they say skillet, not pot.

The sizzling has turned into the type of hushing that acts like white noise does to soothe an infant by reminding them of where they felt at most at home. Hissing becomes murmurings that call them back to the first and only place they knew and settles the part of them that must, too, be home sick. There is something to be said about how the combination of otherwise prosaic ingredients in quantities “just so” can transport you across boundaries of time and space, bidding you to find rest swaddled in memory and cushioned by familiarity, nostalgia supporting the neck. The stove can whisk you across oceans, over uncut hills and carry you in a downward rock through the most remote of valleys; but I am not seeking the same sort of comfort as an infant. I am far too cognizant of the fact that there is no way for me to return to the place from which I have been similarly removed. I have developed far too many faculties to forget where I am in the world and be taken home, or frankly, I am too aware of where exactly I am not. I was simply searching for a reminder; wanting waves of heat to induce waves of memory. Seeking a way to re-consume what I had lost.

The curry chicken recipe happens to be a perfect amalgamation of the pieces of home, and if I managed to do it the way my mother has been serving it for years, I’d stir-up the parts of Jamaica that I had lost. When you follow the recipe correctly, the yellow turmeric of the curry powder shines the warmth of the island onto your face and the heat of the pepper warms you from the inside out in the way the tropical climate offers unyielding heat that warms your bones through. Your skin and your mouth water in response. You can attempt to wash it down, you serve coconut water or iced fruit juice with your curry to cool the burn of the capsaicin and in that action, you manage to be vaulting off towards the shoreline, wide strides teetering heel-toe-heel-toe, the sand burning your soles like the spice does your throat as you go in search of relief in the cooling waters yet again, mindlessly, because each of your limbs knows the way. The weight of the salt in the water sinks the mouthfuls of the curry to sit in the pit of your stomach and the sea wraps you up and it gets in your nose and it burns, and it burns to keep your eyes open, yet, somehow the curry in your mouth never burns for long.

Here, heat is a constant. The pepper is a constant.

Here, it burns even after you’ve swallowed; having forced your mouth closed to chew and reached for the cup of their Kool-Aid to your right on the dining room table. I was once told that if you head far enough in any direction, you’ll find water and end up on the beach. For years I believed that, regardless of the trouble, if I kept going, I would once again find myself answering the beckoning of waves cresting, extending their swooping invitation overhead then crashing in time with the tempo of the flitty tune that goads palm trees and bare legs alike to sway. Whoever said that couldn’t have accounted for how far beyond boundaries planes can fly.

Their spoonful of baby food was accompanied by coos and songs of “open wide” and empty promises that delivered passengers to the empty-promised land. There are no beaches here. There are frigid hallways and stale, still air, and there are unfamiliar faces who don’t smile back at you the way your people do. There is no more spice or sea salt. Instead there are stiff, brand-new backpacks that crinkle as you walk in un-scuffed shoes, void save for good luck post-it notes tucked into the inside pocket saying “Have a good first day! Love you – mums” and signed with a lipstick print. There are spellings of c-o-l-o-r instead of c-o-l-o-u-r. Here, on your own, you mess up the recipe and pucker your lips because you didn’t, couldn’t, account for the new sting of table salt.

About the Author

Alazne Cameron · University of Florida

Alazne Cameron is in her senior year as a student at the University of Florida. She was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and migrated to the United States at age 16 so she finds herself drawn to writing describing experiences of immigration, as well as journey-driven narratives. She is pursuing a double major in English and Political Science and minoring in French as her immersion into two distinct cultures with major wealth disparities fueled an interest in comparing and contrasting cultural phenomena and has thus driven a passion for activism and advocacy.

About the Artist

 Alessia Potovsky · University of Vermont

Alessia is an artist and creator originally hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area. She draws and paints but is also enamored with printmaking. This print is from a series of pieces featuring children and various flora and fauna meant to celebrate childlike wonder of the natural world and promote environmentalism from a young age. She is currently attending the University of Vermont, majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Theatre and Studio Art.

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