Saturday, January 28, 2012

What We Leave Behind...

…are the manifestations of the memories we bring with us. 

Every day I consider that, beautiful, serene and unbelievable as this island may be, I am very far from the place I will forevermore know as home.  There is a consuming sense of isolation when you’re so utterly removed from your habitat.  The flow of your lifestyle is dammed, allowing just a trickle to escape, in the form of emails and videos, just enough to remind you of the rush behind the wall.  Despite the fact that you can list off everyone and everything that drives you to homesickness, what you really miss above all else is the comforting sense of predictability.

Oscar Wilde suggested that expecting the unexpected demonstrates a thoroughly modern intellect.  I don’t know that I would consider myself a modern intellectual, but I can identify an oxymoron when it’s staring me in the face.  There is a reason why humans have been referred to as creatures of habit.  Most of us flourish with a routine and, the more established the routine becomes, the more we understand and accept our niche in life.  We may seek to occasionally remove the monotony, but always rely on the rapid return of that complacent predictability.

When the routine is gone, we flounder.

Were I Wilde’s definition of a modern intellect, I would have nothing to discuss.  I would prance around the neighborhood, anticipating the charging cow, emaciated dogs, flocks of goats, and intimidating driving patterns.  My blog would go belly-up.  Then what would you read when you’d already read everything else and realized you still had time to kill?

I have been floundering since the day we landed in Grenada and a monkey climbed on my head.  Every day I am weighed down by more astonishing moments and discoveries.  The collapsing definition of my lifestyle is ready for a new description.  And frantically, I’m trying to erect some sense of daily structure.  But whatever comfort I can build for myself, I am still a stranger in a foreign place and, in the most significant sense of the word, home is agonizingly far away.

Fortunately, I’m not so naïve that I don’t expect some semblance of predictability to settle itself on my present situation.  Until it does, I’ll keep up my tailspinning existence.  And I’ll keep it up stoically, despite the subconscious struggle between my perpetually flailing id and constantly scolding super-ego.

Even after settled with predictability, I will still find myself bereft of what was left behind.

Gather every last moment and devote yourself to what you are about to sacrifice; still, it’s not enough.  There will never be enough last moments to compensate for the replacement of complacency with the memory of complacency. 

This is the most prosaic rendition of homesickness I have to offer.

What was left behind:

Ajax, Charlie and Babe.  What Ivan and I promised we’d never do was give up our dogs.  After Ivan was accepted into SGU, I spent a month planning the dogs’ transportation to Grenada only to finally discover breed specific legislation prohibited the import of pit bull type dogs.  We were told that they would not be admitted through customs.  Charlie would have been allowed, if any commercial airline would fly him.  Unfortunately, Charlie falls under the category of a snub-nosed dog and any airline that will concede to fly animals in this category still will not do so if the temperature at any point in the flight reaches 75F or above.  All three of our dogs were left behind.  There is a distinct sense of failure when you separate yourself from an animal that you have cared for and loved.  When you separate from three, that failure becomes an overwhelming defeat.


Ivan and I made an irreversible decision not to have children of our own.  The decision was not made because we don’t like children; there are many in our lives.  We have thirteen nieces and nephews ranging in ages from practically newborn to sixteen years old.  On my side of the family, my brother’s son, Eddie, is the love of my life.  At almost four years old, Eddie is a talkative toddler who is anything but shy around his Aunt Allison.  His humor and charm are addictive and his affection is heartwarming.  On the day after Christmas, I gave him a hug and said goodbye; when I said, “I love you,” he said, “I love you too.”  What I wanted to say, but never did, was, “Don’t forget about me.”  Then I left Eddie behind.
Don't forget me, Eddie.

Eddie’s sister, Emma was born in November.  By the time I come back, she’ll be a toddler, walking and talking and getting into trouble.  She won’t have the faintest idea who I am, even though she smiled at me from her mom’s arms when I said goodbye.
Sweet Emma

How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so difficult.

All that I lose are the years.  My amazing family and friends will still be at home when I return.  And I will have a fresh set of people and predictability to leave behind.  My self-pity and ruminations can come again at the loss of my island home.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Allison, for the beautiful reminder of love and life and dreams. You don't know how much this hit home with me tonight. I had a particularly difficult day at school, and you have reinforced how important it is to persue your dreams; even if, unfortunately, it means sacrifice. Ultimately, Ivan and you will reach your dreams, and you'll have many more exciting discoveries along the way. I think you two have already found out what I mave been slow to believe, that school can only teach you so much...the rest is up to you and what you really want out of life. Living is learning:)
    Love you and miss you!
    Aunt Katy
    p.s. I don't think for a second that Eddie has forgotten YOU for a second!