Martine and Laurence Pierre-Louise Haiti My mother started visiting the United States in the 1960s. I was very small, but I remember when she came home, she smelled different. Her suitcase smelled different. Perhaps that aroma was my first introduction to the United States. I decided later that it was the smell of air-conditioning, a kind of sanitized air we didn’t have in Haiti. It makes no sense, but I’m almost sure of it. She spent the school year in Haiti with us and then worked in the United States in the summers. Financially it was very important for the family. Working one summer, she could earn more than she could in Haiti for the entire year. Eventually we all moved to New York. I have five siblings, and she brought us a couple at a time. I arrived in 1976, when I was thirteen. I quickly felt that I was no longer a child. I found the experience very difficult. I had been uprooted from a place I really loved, that was my home; I then came to New York City, where everything was unfamiliar, everything was unknown. In comparison, Haiti seemed quiet. There was a dictatorship, so there was a kind of controlled order. I have some very interesting memories from the perspective of a child. I was once riding with two sisters and my father in his car; we were passing by the National Palace. It must have been early in the morning, when the flag was raised. It was expected that everyone would stop their car, and at least one person would get out and stand at attention, which my father did. My sister asked, “Dad, what would happen if you didn’t do that?” My father chuckled and said, “Well, they would throw perfume and flowers at me.” I knew somehow that it was not really a joke, that it meant there would be a serious danger. Even being very young, I could read those words. This is the longest I’ve been away; the last time I was in Haiti was eight years ago. It’s just not safe now. I was there going through the process of adopting a daughter. I was staying in the city with my aunt, and every night there was gunfire. I know the situation has not improved since then. My mother just turned eighty, and she has not been able to go back and see her family for many years now, as much as she would love to. The Haitian community in Seattle is very small. When Haitian refugees began settling here in the early Nineties, I was working as an interpreter. I have to tell you I feel pretty confident that I know every single person in the Haitian community. I have accompanied people to medical and official appointments and have tried to help in any way I can. I know every family and every child that was born here. I escaped with being godmother to only one child. My mother has begun to interpret now, and it has been so good for her. She gets so much respect as an elder, something she does not really feel in the American community. She is without exception on the guest list of every wedding or special occasion, and she loves that.