The White Boy on the White Continent

Tiffany Patterson

(USA/Caribbean)

The cabin window is covered with streaks of snow and splashes of water from thrashing waves. The ship bobs violently through the stormy Drake Passage and into the mouth of the South Shetland Islands. The wild sickness I feel isn’t from the sea but from the yearning I have for the white boy whose eyes radiate bright blue, growing darker in the centre like the icy sea.

I leave my cabin and escape to the frosty bridge deck, hoping to palliate those pangs of longing by focusing on the cloudy view of the Antarctic Peninsula ahead. I focus instead on our upcoming expedition. I imagine the softness of his lips buried beneath a beard coloured as though the sneaking polar sun had already covered him in stolen bronze kisses.

Exploration day approaches, and I prepare for docking. Like a cast anchor, this white boy is strong; his gentle grip rushes air to my surface as he helps me into an inflatable boat for transport to the rocky, snow-powdered shore. I pause on my journey inland to meet fellow explorers and glimpse past human foot trails running parallel to penguin highways stained burgundy with moulting feathers. I watch him as he rests at the edge of the inflatable boat.

I never thought I’d spend my time on the White Continent obsessing over a white boy whose blonde hair becomes unruly from the slightest brush of wind. His headgear flattens his hair into submission, slicking sweaty strands along his pale face. 

The real problem is this white boy is, well, White. My fantasies are interrupted by internal interrogation: What would everyone think? 

Antarctica’s enchantment makes it hard not to see beauty in everything and in everyone. Tucked away long enough at the world’s end in Earth’s wintry white envelope, we’re reduced to primal beings, sharing space with the likes of wailing, waddling penguins, and flapping Weddell seals. 

Here, our desires breach the surface like ancient sea mammals rising from lonely depths. So, as the white boy approaches the group, I bravely admire the luminous face of Adonis, backdropped by a glistening landscape.

Tiffany Patterson

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

A first-generation Caribbean American, Tiffany is passionate about sharing her experiences of “the in-between,” growing up in America and spending time with family in the Caribbean. As she unravels issues related to displacement, culture, language, and self-discovery, she aims for reflection, not perfection—unapologetically. Until Tiffany finds a place to call home, she travels the world while balancing a career in tech and shares her reflections via a number of platforms.

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