Where have we been this time while off the rock? Not only to one, but to two “civilized countries”: Switzerland and the USA. Places where everything functions and happens on time, the stores are so laden with fresh fruits and vegetables that we buy quantities there’s no way we can consume before they spoil, credit cards work, and we wear proper clothing (not the stuff we left behind – the one piece affairs that are faded, cool, comfortable, and quick-drying as they tear from the wind on the “solar dryer”).
On the night before I am to travel back to my home rock, I picked up my blue wine glass full of red wine and ingested a bee – one whose sting inside my mouth hurt like hell. My tongue swelled to the point where I couldn’t even say Switzerland, and swallowing was starting to become a concern. My dear island friend, who is currently living In Wisconsin, took me to the ER… a first for me. Three hours after discharge, I was truly ready to head back to the rock, equipped with an EpiPen, and feeling thankful THAT happened before I was back on-island.
Fifteen hours later, having had a truck ride, a bus ride, three plane trips, and another car ride, I was finally home – a distance of only 1500 miles! Ahh… the salty breeze, the warm air, the quiet waves dancing all night long. Everything was working, there was lots of rainwater in the tank, the car started, the plants were still alive, and the fridge was running. Amazing… another first. I had popcorn for dinner and fell into bed, exhausted and thankful. My partner was fishing in Labrador, and I welcomed my alone time.
The next morning, all was still well, and I took in the beauty of the rising sun crawling out of the sea. Happily reversing my “close-up list”, the gratitude and appreciation continued.
The first day back is always an errand running day. ”My” bank closed, and I needed a new one; I needed wiper blades, a trip to the post office to collect three months of already paid utility bills, a stop to pick up some paint, and a bit of food. Long Island of the Bahamas is 80 miles long by 1- 4 miles wide. The one main road, which often feels monotonous, was such a sweet ride that day. Happy to be back, I took it all in with pleasure. It had rained the previous night and there were crabs all over the place, seagulls feasting. I passed by beautiful goats (in someone else’s yard, thankfully), recalling memories in each house that I passed, thinking of those who live there and how kind they have been to me over the past eleven years. As others have expressed, the best part of Long Island is the hard working, spiritual, good, and fun people.
Need a new bank? Not a problem… I had a reference letter in a half an hour. My good fortune continued. I had asked for local honey, and there it was, waiting for me, fresh and healthy. It took me an extra long time to get home as I visited and chatted all the way back. Waving at drivers on the right side of the road? Of course, I know them all.
I have been here for eleven years. I was widowed here, and I am now in a wonderful relationship with another Long Island ”visitor”. I feel loved, safe, and thankful. My entire life is downsized and meaningful. Today I realized, and not for the first time, that there is truly nowhere else on the planet I would rather live.
I rose at 4:30am to witness the meteor shower, the last of the waning moon, and the sunrise. The night before my 73rd birthday, I am blissfully devouring my own fresh bread with butter and local honey, and not one, but two amazing purple sugar bananas for dinner. As I feel the breeze on my face, warm and secure, I know in my heart without a doubt that life doesn’t get much better than this.
I am home.