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In a daydream I used to have, all these places were points of happiness to me; all these places were lifeboats to my small drowning soul, for I would imagine myself entering and leaving them, and just that – entering and leaving over and over again – would see me through a bad feeling I did not have a name for.
Leaving a bad place for a new one can make one miss the bad place simply because it’s more familiar. The title character of Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Poor Visitor” experiences this. She has difficulty explaining the feelings she had while she lived in Antigua and she has difficulty explaining what she feels now that she is a nanny in New York City. The entire five page story revolves around the narrator explaining her feelings – in a word, she says it might be called homesickness. But that doesn’t quite cover it.
This is the first story I’ve read by Kincaid but I don’t think it will be the last.
“Poor Visitor” is included in my collection Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker edited by David Remnick. I read it when I selected the Ace of Hearts for Week 50 of my Deal Me In 2017 short story project. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.