“So if you moved away when you were 5, then you’re not really from here.”
Words said to me by a girl introduced through a mutual friend a few weeks ago. Little did she know, she struck a nerve on one of my deepest insecurities. I’m from here, but I left.
“I’m an Ebanks. I’m from here.” I quickly responded. Ebanks is probably the most common name on island. When I first started my job, 3 of us in our office of 9 staff were Ebanks’s. If you’re an Ebanks, you’re Caymanian.
I’ve got a tricky relationship with this place.
My roots run deep here. My father’s family has been here for generations. They were the sea captains, the rope makers, the fishermen and women who built this island. My grandmother still weaves Silver Thatch palm hats like the women in our family before her; my dad and brother dive for conch and lobster at 6:00 AM on the first day the season opens.
But I don’t know how to do any of that, because I wasn’t raised here. I was raised in Victoria, with mum, where I had a perfectly lovely and happy life. I was socialised in Canada, I was educated in Canada, all of mum’s family is in Canada, I speak with a Canadian accent, I have a Canadian passport.
Whenever I visited Cayman growing up, people always welcomed me home, but I never felt like I was home. How can somewhere be home when you hardly know anyone there?
And ironically, I moved back here to work as an arts and culture educator. I spend my days teaching people about Caymanian culture and history, which is really wonderful and has helped me feel more at home here. I feel empowered by teaching children about our islands’ heritage. We talk about Silver Thatch, turtling, and wompas (old-fashioned shoes made from recycled car tires and thatch). We learn together.
And I do know people here now, beyond my family. I’m making friends, I’ve got awesome coworkers, I meet tons of people in the community through my job, Ive been dating a little bit. I’m making a life here, and it does feel like home.
Coming back has been a difficult transition in many ways, but I know it was the right move. I’m learning and growing all the time. I don’t know if I’ll be here forever, but for now I’m exactly where I should be.
Light & Love,