I’m baaaaaaacckkk!

So WOW this has been a crazy summer! I have been in my own house three weekends since the end of April, and two of those weekends were spring commencement and vacation Bible school, so really only the third one counted.

I didn’t make the trip home this many times in an entire year of college, if that gives you some perspective.

Between the MIL being sick (she’s been through a lot but is progressing well!) and all the weddings (Oy. All the weddings…) it’s been one rollercoaster of a summer term. There is only one more wedding to go – and it’s in the family!

My baby brother is getting married this Friday, and I am blessed to be gaining a sweet, wonderful sister-in-law. (Beware, sister-in-law, you will now be fair game for blog material.)

But after that, no more! If you’re not already on my wedding calendar for the year 2016, I’m sorry, but we won’t be attending. No hard feelings; I just can’t take it anymore.

[It just occurred to me… sister-in-law came into my life after I abandoned the blog for the summer… so poor thing doesn’t even know what she’s getting into. Oh well. So sad for her. No free passes.]

Also – if one more person comes up to me and says, “But your students are on summer break, right? You can’t be that busy,” one more time, I’m telling you, I’m gonna snap. All that material new freshmen get when they come to campus the first time, where do you think all of that comes from? The alumni magazine you get in the mail in September is not written by forest fairies, and who, exactly, do you think gets the course catalog updated and put in the bookstore?

Umm… yeah… that would be us.

 

Honey, we’re being followed.

So last Friday I left home for a weekend with the Mister, who is finishing up an internship out of state. I had chosen my route from several possible alternatives because it would take me through a string of small southern towns, hopefully keeping me alert after a long day and offering many places to stop and eat.

About two hours into a four-hour drive, I found myself behind a white minivan with oddly flashing lights inside. At first, I thought I was looking through their windshield and seeing something up ahead, but as the silhouettes literally danced across the window I realized – I was watching a movie!

I started thinking hard. A movie screen in the back of a minivan – probably for kids, probably by Disney. I’ve seen every classic Disney movie ever made, so surely I can figure this out.

At that moment, a large character of some sort appeared and seemed to be tossing a smaller item into the air. A vaguely orange character with a mop of dark hair laughed. And I shouted out loud to my empty car.

It’s Baloo! This is the Jungle Book! They’re singing the Bear Necessities!

And so, of course, was I. At the top of my lungs. And the people in the minivan had no idea I was enjoying their trip so much. I had several chances to pass, but decided to stay behind and watch the show.

I actually followed the van all the way to Selmer, where they pulled into a McDonalds with an indoor play place – presumably to appease the Jungle Book-watchers – just as Baloo and Mowgli were escaping the monkeys.

I was sad to see them go.

For half a second I considered pulling in after them and ordering a milkshake and some fries, possibly telling them they had brightened my long trip, but I figured that would be very creepy and kept driving.

I got through three states in the dark without a GPS and with only vague directions without any problems at all, but of course got all the way to the town I wanted and got lost. I had to call the hotel to figure out where I was and give me directions. Of course. That’s only a natural thing to happen to me.

But at least I had all the bear necessities. 🙂

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.

Making Progress

So I know I’m a few days late for my regular post, but things have been progressing well here and I am confident we will be able to make it off the rock by the end of the month without major incident.

We’ve been able to sell off a large bulk of our excess belongings over the past four days, have had a few test-drive requests on our car, and are working on all the paperwork to have various accounts closed and payments refunded before we leave. We don’t have a set return date yet, but we plan to choose that next week based on how successful we are at selling our car.

So I’m pleased with our progress overall. Hopefully we can get down to fewer than four checked bags on the way back so that we don’t have to find a way to get six pieces of luggage and Meera in her giant kennel through customs at the Miami airport. That’s what I’m worried about most – the flight back. Everything here can be taken care of, but once we get to the airport we just have to trust that everything will go smoothly and cross our fingers until we land in Nashville. After that it will all be over.

So we have 2.5 weeks maximum here, hopefully a little less if we can swing it. We are excited to be going home, but finding little things every day that we will actually miss about this place. The friends we’ve made here are the biggest things, but we’ll also miss all the clear open sky, access to swimming pools whenever we want, spiny lobster and having our own place (for a while).

Good thoughts appreciated! And if you have any insider knowledge on the Miami airport and how two people can get help moving large amounts of baggage through it please let us know. 🙂

A New Road to Walk

The night the Mister and I said goodbye to our families before we caught that first flight to the unknown world of St. Kitts, I cried so hard I could hardly speak, and then sat at my parents’ kitchen table from 2a.m. until flight time trying to figure out why I felt such an oppressive weight of doom.

I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were being sent from our loved ones and exiled into a world of shadowy darkness to chase a dream that – had the system been constructed fairly – the Mister could have followed at a stateside vet school. I know it’s no secret that I’ve not always been the biggest fan of this Kittitian world, but when faced with the immediate prospect of leaving it, I find there are many things I will be sad to leave behind.

I have so many more faithful readers on this humble blog than I ever thought I would gain, and I feel that, since you’ve journeyed with us on our island travels for so long, you deserve to know how they have ended.

Without going into the long details, which will only sound like I’m blaming the school (which I’m going to try not to do), I can explain that the Mister’s final exams last semester did not go as planned – due largely to outside circumstances – and he fell into a loophole in the system not directly addressed by the student handbook. We went through the process to appeal his scores, and found out yesterday that the committee went strictly by the closest handbook rule and decided to release him of his responsibilities as a student and send us home. Where some other students have won their appeals on the same subject, the Mister’s status as having already repeated a course meant he was gleaned from the flock as a matter of “principle.”

The man responsible for handing the Mister the committee’s final decision told him he had not slept well Tuesday night because of it and felt terrible to be delivering the envelope.

However, technicalities and finger-pointing set aside, the decision has been made and the Mister and I are getting our island affairs in order and plan to return stateside by the end of the month. Thankfully we’ve been blessed with families who won’t leave us out in the streets and friends who work in industries where the Mister can look for a job. I myself have applied for a public relations position back home and have a few other possibilities to look into once we get back.

This is not the end of the road for us, but merely the start of a new path. We know we will be ok in the end, even if the going is rough here for a while. It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all, and we have learned so much from this experience that will shape us into better adults in the future.

Prayers and good thoughts are always appreciated, and if you know of anything in the middle Tennessee area that is hiring or might be looking for workers like us, please let us know.

–The Missus

Aaaannnnnd we’re back!

Hey readers, I know it’s been a long hiatus these past few weeks, but the Mister and I are safely back on the island and readjusting ourselves to loose brakes and stringy chicken as we speak. 🙂

The vacation was wonderful and definitely necessary for our sanity. We got to spend time with most of the family and saw a lot of good friends at a beautiful wedding the first weekend we were home. We went to the zoo and canoed down the mighty Duck River, roasted marshmallows over a backyard fire, replenished my yarn supply for this semester’s animals, and ate enough good food to kill a horse. I myself ate four cartons of blueberries over two weeks… but that’s a separate story altogether. (Hey, I really have a thing for blueberries, ok?)

Meera stayed with another student while we were gone and seems to have had a good time. She got along well with the other dogs in the apartment complex, had lots of yard space to play in, went on at least one hike and completely wore herself out to the extent that she’s been asleep since we brought her home earlier this morning. 

We had some complications with the way last semester ended so we have to sort out a few more things before the Mister can start classes for this round, but we should know the outcomes of those decisions by Wednesday. Whatever happens though, we know that life will go on one way or another, and we’ll figure out what path our family is meant to take and see what waits for us at the end of it. 

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that God’s will will be done, and whatever that turns out to be we will be able to accept it and move forward. Thanks, and happy Saturday!

And then there were four… five… six… wait, how many?

Well the semester is drawing to a close and the Mister and I have become the figurative guardians of at least three tiny baby geckos, recently hatched in various parts of our bedroom.

Baby gecko on the ceiling

Baby gecko on the ceiling

I was getting into the shower one night a month or so ago and noticed something moving around the shower head. My first thought, of course, was that it was a centipede, so I jumped out and grabbed a flashlight. Whatever it was was gone, but I could see something unusual in the gap where the faucet pipe comes out of the wall. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be half of a tiny eggshell! 

Since that night we have seen one baby gecko that hangs around the shower, one that hangs out in the closet and one that can often be found in the main area of the room. They are slightly different, but are all less than two inches in length and very cute to watch. Over the past weeks they have started to expand their territories, and it’s cool to watch them venture into new areas and react to their new surroundings.

The closet gecko, which we call Sam, likes to crawl out of the closet and peek out into the room from the safety of underneath the nearby dresser. The shower gecko – George – recently ventured onto the bathroom counter and then tried to hide against the back side of my makeup bag when the Mister came in to wash his hands. The third baby, who doesn’t have his own name, can often be seen crawling around the vicinity of the air conditioner.

Unnamed gecko baby near the air conditioner

Can you see him? He’s up above the air conditioner cord cover. (Closer pictures were too blurry.)

We like our tiny gecko family and do our best to be mindful of their positions and leave them alone. We have had to scare them away from things that could be dangerous to them, though, like the whirling ceiling fan or Meera’s kennel. (She ignores them for the most part, but she will lie on the bed and stare at them suspiciously if they are moving across the ceiling.)

We have plenty of mosquitoes to go around, and I would rather have geckos than centipedes any day. 

What do you think we should name the third baby? Feel free to submit your suggestions in the comments.