I open at the close…

It’s 3 a.m. The Mister and I said goodbye to our island family several hours ago and have been trying to wind down and get some sleep since just after 11. Obviously that’s not working so well.

I’ve spent a few hours in that state where you are calm enough to rest but not quite enough to actually sleep, so I don’t feel too terrible right now, although I’m hoping the action of coming upstairs and writing this post will help push me that last little bit into dreamsville. I’m not sure if the Mister is still awake or not – I have a feeling he is – but we’re coping in our separate ways.

This is my last post from the island, which is actually very fitting, since I sat at my mother’s kitchen table at 2 a.m. (Central Time) the night before we originally came here and wrote out my nervousness in a journal much less public than this one.

I know that in a reflection such as this I’m expected to say things like “it was a life-changing experience” and “it was for the best that we came,” but if I’m being honest with myself and with you, I don’t know how true that is. I sort of feel like we’re returning to the States with roughly the same amount of physical, mental and financial material that we left it with, which makes me wonder if we couldn’t just rip out these pages in our history books and piece pre-St. Kitts and post-St. Kitts together like a jigsaw puzzle without any gaps in-between.

The Mister got his chance to try veterinary school, and that is good, but he worked so hard for so long only to get pushed aside in the end by an administration that poses as one “for the good of the students” but is really just about the money.

I don’t know that I am any better about dealing with different kinds of people and cultures, but I was at least forced to give it a shot, and I suppose that is good as well. If nothing else I now have a much greater appreciation for southern hospitality, courtesy and common sense.

There have definitely been both good days and bad days along the way, but I think they ultimately balance each other out into a fairly neutral overall experience. We will of course never forget or be able to replace the friends we’ve made here and the people we will be leaving behind, but I have faith that tonight will not be the last times we see them, Lord willing. They, at least, are the tokens we will cherish most from this chapter of our lives.

I do intend to continue adding to this blog as time goes on, but the main content will obviously have to change as our lives evolve around it. Hopefully there will be updates about jobs, houses and the antics of children in the future, but we’ll just have to see how the world turns.

One thing I can be completely certain about, however, is that after tomorrow I will not be getting on any airplane of my own free will for a very, very long time.

So here’s to change, to starting over and to second chances. Here’s to bumps in the road, broken transmissions and busted radiators. Here’s to the hundreds of slain mosquitoes flushed down our drains, and here’s to a thousand blazing sunrises over a sparkling ocean. Here’s to pelicans, stilt birds and mongooses. Here’s to lying by a pool, watching shooting stars light up a Caribbean sky, listening to the chatter of your best and closest.

Here’s to endings.

And new beginnings.

Here’s to life. Go make it happen.

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The one with the feet

There’s a very bohemian, devil-may-care feeling to sitting on an upper story porch, lounging in a deck chair with your bare feet propped up on the balcony railing like a flower child with her legs hanging out the car window.

I don’t know why it is exactly, but this is my favorite happy place. Our upstairs porch is well shaded and gets a good breeze during the day, and I can watch the comings and goings on the golf course from the relative privacy of my chair. I like to bring my breakfast out here in the mornings before the Mister is awake and take time to enjoy the quiet before the golf course tractors really get going. (It helps that this is also undeniably the coolest place in the house.)

I feel like this is one of the only places where I appreciate living here. The island is beautiful — regardless of how I may feel about the rest of it — and I often forget to stop being irritated with the locals long enough to appreciate my surroundings. At what other time in our lives will we live on a tropical island? At what other point will I have enough free time to sit in the gentle breeze reading classic novels for hours at a time? Never. This will never happen again. And while there are days that I hate this place with so much passion it consumes me, I do have to sit back and acknowledge that this is a gift I will probably miss once I have a 9-5 job again and children to chase after.

We joke about how golfers and yard workers can often look up at our house and see Meera’s little gray face watching them through the railing, but the truth is that, more often than not, they can also see my feet hanging out into the sunshine. What a strange picture that probably is. I’m sure that’s probably how the pool cleaners know which house is ours from the back — they just look for the one with the feet.

porch with a view

Because I just saw this and I love it so much

It could have been me. It could have been you.

Aren’t you glad it wasn’t?

Your baby can have a rich, vibrant life, even if it’s with someone else. Give it that chance.

**Disclaimer: My mother would like for me to mention that this would not literally have been me because she would not have made that choice. Just in case anyone was concerned.

Little Victories

I backed my car into a parking space today all by myself and didn’t damage anything.
If you’ve ever seen the way I drive backwards, you would understand why this is such a big deal. Parallel parking, mastered that. Backing up, however, is a problem.
I come from a long line of what I call “master backer-uppers.” My dad and grandfather can both back a full-size truck pulling an extra-long RV and a tow car across a ditch, between the mailbox and a tree, down the driveway and into a specified spot under the pines and stop before they hit the shed. The Mister can back a university cattle trailer down a narrow barn aisle. I, on the other hand, have a hard time backing the lawn mower in a straight line. Forget about blind spots and pedestrians.
It’s little victories that make the difference, really. The big triumphs only come on occasion, so you have to revel in the smaller satisfactions when they come. Today was one of those days. Not an overly fantastic day, but with enough of those small things to make it worth smiling about. My boss included me in an email sent to “his staff;” I got to play with a newborn lamb and coaxed a barn cat into letting me carry him around; cooked a corn casserole even the Mister liked; and didn’t get eaten by the normally-aggressive ducks we feed at the city pond.
I feel sorry for people who have a hard time appreciating those little gifts – the friends around them, the love of family, the opportunity to get an education… the list could go on and on.
I know this is a shorter post than usual, but I just want all of you reading this to take a moment and think about something that happened in your day that was a little victory, even when the rest of the day may have felt like a loss.
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

And for anyone who made need another extra boost of encouragement, take a look at this awesome video from the Kid President. At the very end, he mentions a little girl named Gabby fighting cancer. She’s a real little girl from middle Tennessee and my in-laws know her. Take the video to heart and remember, no matter what you may have gone through today, it could always be worse.

The Butterfly is Dead

The mister is convinced that, when I almost stepped on the beautiful butterfly on the sidewalk, it was merely cold and would be good as new after it warmed up. I am convinced it was already dead.

I have to admit, though, that it is rather strange for a fully-grown butterfly to be lying on its side on the concrete, in perfect condition, without any signs that it had fallen, been attacked, broken a wing or a leg or otherwise suffered any type of injury. It’s brilliantly colored wings were folded perfectly together and all six legs completely intact. Odd.

But I still think it was dead.

Regardless, it is dead now, as it’s been inside warming up for about a week with no independent movements.

It currently lives between two cotton makeup pads inside the plastic case for an old Gameboy game until the mister can decide whether or not (and figure out how) he wants to display it. It’s not every day you find a butterfly perfectly frozen and naturally preserved.

I, on the other hand, find this to be a perfect (albeit slightly morbid) example of mine and the mister’s attitudes about life.

To him, the butterfly was merely cold and would fly free and beautiful again after sitting in front of the heater for a while. To me, the butterfly was dead before it came in the door.

Even while I watched him try to revive the insect in front of our living room heater, he was saying, “I think he just moved his legs!” and I was saying, “Well it’s only going to live another few days anyway.”

The mister sees potential in all things and all people (most of the time). He believes diseases can be cured, accidents can be fixed and mistakes can be corrected. I, on the other hand, tend to believe that stains will never come out, injuries will always be excruciatingly painful and stupid people will always be stupid.

The mister has the patience of Jesus and I dissolve into uncontrollable panic at the smallest things. I have periods of ridiculous frustration and uncontrolled rage, while the mister sits on the couch and tells me to take a deep breath, Walmart will restock chicken broth soon.

And that’s the thing: what makes me angriest, the most upset and the most worried are smaller, typically insignificant things.

I freak out about whether or not Walmart has ingredients I think I need. I rant and rave about having to explain the same simple procedure to a classmate fifteen times in an hour. I am reduced to tears because I don’t have time to go play with the puppies at the companion animal lab.

I don’t worry about Tuesday’s election and the future of our country. I don’t spend time wondering if our children will be able to grow up with the same freedoms the mister and I have always enjoyed. I don’t even put much thought into what we would do if we were to have children too early (which is going to jinx me, I know). My problem-meter is completely screwed up!

But, regardless of whether or not I admit that I have a problem, the butterfly is still dead. The mister will graduate from vet school and spend his life trying to provide comfort to the injured and dying and save those that can be saved, and I will spend my life wondering why people put Chihuahuas on life support.

The mister knew all this about me before we got married and apparently thought this, like all other problems, could eventually be overcome. But, in the meantime, opposites balance each other out and maybe someday the butterfly will live again.

(But I doubt it.)