7:17pm. February 28th, 2009. I was visiting family in Montego Bay. My birthday had passed a few days prior and I’d spent a lot of the time reflecting on the past year and the year to come. Being in Jamaica has a way of making me contemplate the great issues of life. Anyway. I sat on my aunt Dor’s veranda in Westgate Hills overlooking the city. I watched the sun set as Jah Cure’s tune “Jamaica” rolled gently from the speakers in the living room. I could feel the breeze coming up from the water, over the hills and into my lap where my hands sat comfortably cradling a glass filled with rum. Appleton Special*. Neat.
Though a steady, cool breeze tends to come around these parts during the evening, the sun’s intensity could still be felt. It was as if it were about to defy the laws of science or common sense and suddenly vault itself back over the mountain to take its rightful place in the sky. I’m not one for pictures, but I felt compelled to grab the camera beside me and take one right then. It’s the picture you see right here.
My aunt is an active member in her church and was out and about conducting church business. So I was alone in her house, alone with my thoughts. I thought about one of my previous trips to this house, one where I traveled with the girl I was dating at the time. I thought about how much I had loved her, cared about her and how much she loved me. I remembered the conversation we had on that very veranda where she informed me that she was going to move from Toronto, where we both lived, to pursue her creative and artistic dreams. I vowed to support her come what may and we did try to make the long distance thing work. But part of me knew at the moment of her telling, that our relationship was over.
I thought about the women I’d dated since then and how loving some of them and having them love me had affected my life. I thought about how much I valued the experience of falling in love because it always offered the chance to see myself through another’s eyes. And how beautiful and rare is that?
I thought about other women who’ve woven themselves into my life. Some still with us, others passed on. Women like my grandmother, Miss Flor’, and my Aunts Dor and Babs. I thought about my sister Tanya, who was my first best friend and is the best big sister a yout’ like me could ever have. I thought about my mother, a woman who sacrificed more than you could imagine and more than I’ll ever know so that her three children could have a fair shake of things. As the great Sizzla Kalonji would say ‘Thank you Mama, for the nine months you carried me through…”
I also thought about my grandfather Mas’ Will, my uncles James and Joslyn. I thought about Heron, my brother and best friend. I thought about Springer, Liteskin, Mas’ Robbie, Stitchie and a host of others who love me and accept me as I am. People who’ve had a profound impact on my life. People whose names I will invoke, whose stories I’ll share along with my own when I come here to talk shop and share a drink with you all.
Because though this blog is ostensibly about my love affairs with rum and records, (and sometimes women) it is also about all of these people. Every time I fill a tumbler with rum, I remember and honour all of them in some way. Each time I lay vinyl on my turntable and set the volume of my stereo to a suitably robust level, all the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen are present in some fashion. Just as I sat on my aunt’s veranda, enjoying the weather, enjoying the rum, and reminiscing, I sit here now, reminiscing with a drink in hand. And I like remembering things.
To all of you visiting me here at warm’n’easy, I thank you for coming. I’ll be posting here regularly, telling you stories, sharing jokes and music. But most of all, I’ll be talking about rum. So, drop by the nearest liquor store, pick up a bottle of Appleton Special, fix yourself a drink, make a toast to someone you love and put on some music. If you’ve never really had rum before or worse if you’ve only had Bacardi, Appleton Special is a good place to start. Consider it a quality entry-level rum. Feel free to post any feedback you may have and tell me what you think about Appleton Special.
*According to the Appleton Estate website, Appleton Special is “the ultimate mixing rum…is exceptionally smooth, and is a mild medium-bodied golden rum.” I can tell you from frequent and intimate experience with this spirit that every word of that assessment is true. Though I must add that I rarely mix my rum. And I usually pass on the ice. At least not the first time I try one. I want to get to know the spirit before I mix it. And I believe the best way to try a new rum is to have it as is. Unadulterated. Warm. And easy.