My grandfather and I have been singing this song for as long as I can remember, and it’s always been “our thing.” Back home it would come to mind every once in a while, but here I sing it a lot for some reason. Maybe it’s being so far from home, maybe it’s my brain reminding me to be happier about my life, but for whatever reason it’s been my theme since about the end of April.
This has been a pretty good week for me so far. I’ve had lots of chores to do and errands to run and places to be to keep me busy, which is always a preferable alternative to wasting my life away. In the past three days I’ve been grocery shopping, met with a mechanic about fixing our car, been to a girl’s night pizza dinner, cooked several good meals, been to the campus sale, met with our new landlord to sign our new lease, sent several important emails and gotten in a few payable hours for my online job. . . so I consider that a pretty successful start to the week. In keeping with my currently positive attitude, this week’s Top Ten Thursday list focuses on good things about the island and life here.
1. It really is beautiful here. I probably don’t get outside and just enjoy the view often enough. There is a certain calming, meditative feeling that comes from just sitting on a hill by the ocean and watching the white caps of the waves come and go and the water change colors as it reflects the passing clouds and then the blue, blue sky. I’ve never seen water so crystal clear. Somehow the beaches are different here too, as compared to the few times I’ve been to a beach in the U.S. The sand is whiter and finer, the water is always refreshing and never cold, and there aren’t hard rocks everywhere to step on.
2. I have learned to enjoy some types of sushi. Rituals Sushi near the Marriott is a good Friday night place, and I’ve come to love their grilled salmon rolls. Granted, this is the first place I’ve ever eaten sushi so I don’t have any points of comparison, and grilled salmon roll is definitely the safest thing on the menu, but a girl’s gotta branch out just a little at a time.
3. I now feel like if I don’t have to chop or dice something, I’m not really cooking. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables here (when I can convince the Mister they won’t kill him) and I enjoy cooking them. Yes, it’s more work than just pouring out a bag of frozen broccoli or dumping baby carrots into a pot, but I think it’s fun. The incredible expense of packaged foods here forces us to eat healthier, and I think this will be a habit we carry back to the States with us when we leave (probably to the Mister’s disappointment, but oh well).
4. We have discovered that we can live without a lot of things. Granted, we’re not as comfortable without those things and probably won’t give them up when we move back home, but for the time being we’ve learned that we don’t need cable or even a television; we don’t need automatic car washes or drive-thru fast food; we don’t need air conditioning in the car; we don’t need internet (or a camera, or even speakerphone) on our cell phones; we don’t need more than one room in our house, a dish washer, washer or dryer, and we apparently can eat without an oven. Now, like I said, we don’t need these things to live (not that these examples are life-altering anyway), but they are definitely bonuses and we will be reclaiming their luxuries when we get home. There are days I would do almost anything to be able to just drive past a window and order a quick dinner, and I have 14 days as of this posting until we move into a place with an oven and I am counting every minute until it gets here. But at least the knowledge that we can do without if we have to is positive.
5. We’ve met lots of new people from areas of country we barely knew existed, much less knew anything about. Diversity is good, and I’ve learned that the South really is the best place to be. 🙂
6. I’m learning many new crochet stitches and will, I hope, soon be learning to make small stuffed animals as well. I probably wouldn’t have ever sat down and taken the time to improve my skills back home.
7. I’ve really come to love the concept of yard sales. I fully expect to be a “yard-saler” when we’re back home for good because that’s the only real shopping I get here and I love it. Here of course we actually need things like household and kitchen items, towels and school supplies that we can’t get cheaply in the stores. But at home, I can really see myself getting into repurposing crafts and finding all sorts of things at yard sales that I can turn into cool pieces of furniture or artwork. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on how the Mister looks at it.
8. We have a greater appreciation for manners and common courtesy. Our future roommate and I often talk about how we would be thrilled if a grocery store cashier actually told us to have a nice day. I feel like I need to be careful to be more purposefully courteous and understanding when working with the public because I now know what it’s like to be constantly running up against walls because I’m different and locals don’t want to work with me to help me understand their expectations. Maybe this will help me in my future public relations position. This leads me to #9.
9. Common courtesy lesson #2: I’ve always known that people who work in some positions – trash collectors, gardeners, taxi and bus drivers, for example – are undervalued and underappreciated, but I didn’t really take much notice or put much thought into it before now. Here, my eyes have finally been opened to how much these people really put up with from the rest of society. Here, taxi drivers are ordered around a lot; it’s the nature of their job to be told where to be at what time and where to go and how to get there. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be courteous about your requests. The Mister and I took a taxi (our favorite driver, a super sweet older man) to meet a few friends a couple of weeks ago. When we arrived at the location, we were in the midst of telling the driver when we needed him to come back and get us when our friend approached the driver’s-side window. And right there in front of him, not even caring that he could hear her, she started talking about how the group would find us someone to ride home with so that the driver (talking about him like he wasn’t there) wouldn’t have to come get us and we wouldn’t have to wait for him or have to ride home in a hot cab. Her language was very dismissing of him and his hard work and I was embarrassed for her and for him that he had to listen to it. We paid him and did end up riding home with someone else, simply because the situation was easier that way, but I still hate that so many people just talk over others like they aren’t there. I want to stop this habit in myself and take a better appreciation of these people and their work back with me to our life in the States. Which leads me to #10.
10. Common courtesy lesson #3: I have a much greater appreciation of what it’s like to be a visitor. Students here, and not just from Ross but from all over, are so rude and messy and disrespectful to the locals, even those who help us, and the rest of us who want to be mature adults get punished for it. For example, it’s so hard to find a place to live that’s a reasonable price, will let you keep pets and doesn’t require you to pay the extra $1,600 to put the electric bill in your name. Why? Because so many students in the past have come through and not cleaned up after themselves or their pets, damaged or destroyed furniture and other property, left landlords holding the bills or left the island without advance notice, leaving the landlords to clean up horrendously disgusting apartments. Our future roommates and I are still trying to convince our new landlord that we will pay all our bills on time and in full if she keeps them in her name. She is reluctant to do this because the previous tenants let a problem with the electric meter (their bill was $30 a month and they knew this was a malfunction) go on so long that the landlord was left holding a final reconciled bill for more than $4,000. I don’t blame her hesitation, but because of their irresponsible actions, those of us who have actually learned to be mature adults have a hard time getting people to trust us. So I feel like this experience will help us be more welcoming and understanding toward visitors in our lives, whether it’s visitors at church, new people at work or just those who are new to the area in general.