Saturday, October 10, 2015

Palm Trees and Pumpkin Pie

Sometimes I get a little bit homesick.

It's not that I don't love our life on the island.

It's not that I want to move back to Saskatchewan.

It's just that now that I've been living here for over a year, I'm beginning to notice that certain times of the year pique a twinge of homesickness in my heart.

The other day, I went to fill out a check and I had absolutely no idea what month it was. As the bank teller watched me fiddle with my pen, wracking my brain for a month, (any month!) I scoured my environment: palm trees out the window, people dressed in shorts and tank tops, A/C cranked in the cool building. Shit. It could have been January. It could have been August. For about 60 seconds, I had no freakin' clue what season I was even dealing with! Other than American television urging me to find my perfect Halloween costume and the fact that the pool temperature has decreased from 92 to 83 degrees, there are absolutely no cues that orient one to time on this island.

Facebook tells me that it's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Although I was never a super Thanksgiving holiday fan, I find myself longing for a cool fall breeze, a scarf around my neck, and a pumpkin spiced latte in my hands. It makes me miss my family. I know they will be gathering on Sunday for turkey, Baba's perogies, and pumpkin pie, and yes, it makes me feel sad to know that I won't be there….but then the romantic version of Thanksgiving that I've created in my brain fades and I recall the feeling of dread that I always experienced around Thanksgiving - knowing that winter was on the way.

Pumpkin spiced latte and Kahlua on ice - Genius?

It's no Baba's perogies, but it does taste like Thanksgiving in a glass. 

My mom traveled back to Canada today. We had such an amazing time together. It flew by and I miss her already. When Mom planned this trip in July, she anticipated that I would still be in a lot of pain from my knee surgery. Her intent was to come down and help out around the house, thinking that I may still be immobile only 4 months post surgery. I was so excited for her to arrive and see that I don't need help anymore. My knees are doing awesome! I'm working full time, doing my physio exercises regularly, weaning off of the knee braces, and am almost completely off of the painkillers - whoohoo! So instead of coming to the island to act as reinforcement, she was able to spend the entire time touring, beaching, lunching, and spending quality fun mother-daughter time with me! I've told my Mom numerous times how grateful I am for all of her support during all of my surgeries, but it was so awesome to show her by treating her to a fabulous few weeks on Cayman. I realize how lucky I am to have such a great relationship with my Mom and I'm so proud when people comment about how similar we are! Mom and I both classify raw cake mix in a bowl as a legitimate and tasty bedtime snack, we speak about celebrities like they are our close friends, ("That's so sad about Miranda and Blake. I saw him on The Voice the other day and he looks like he's doing well"),  and we both appreciate the art of people watching and conjuring up creative stories, ("Check out that couple. She must be introducing him to her parents for the first time. You can tell that her Dad's not impressed.") We really do have fun together and I just genuinely enjoy my Mom's company.

So this Thanksgiving weekend, I am incredibly thankful for my Mom. I miss you already, Mom, but now we have so many awesome memories to replace some of the crappy ones (ummm... Let's toss out that memory of that one time when I stole all of your vodka and replaced it with water. TIP: Parents, freeze your vodka. Duh).

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canadia (haha). Throw on a scarf and have a piece of pumpkin pie for me!

Sunset wine!

East End lunch!

Bar Bites at Camana Bay!

Marriott live music sunset!

Spott's Beach!

Catamaran to Rum Point BBQ!

Swimming at Seven Mile Beach!
Ev can't keep up. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soon Come

My co-workers are awesome people. They're all very brave. They've said goodbye to family, friends, stepped out of their comfort zones, and moved far away to be here. Many accepted their job without knowing a soul on the island, arriving with no car, no home, and no support system - simply a 5 night hotel voucher at Sunshine Suites. My co-workers come in many colours - they come from all over the world! - Jamaica, Barbados, Ireland, England, Mexico, Canada, and the US. They all come with varying religious beliefs, political views, morals and values. They embrace adventure and excitement. They reminisce about their "old" life and support each other through bouts of homesickness.

In one year of working in my office, I've learned about Georgi-Ann's family time - stargazing in their oceanfront backyard in Barbados. I've learned that Stephanie's grandparents immigrated to Jamaica from India. I've learned that Monty misses combining Milo on his family farm in Colorado. I've learned that Joan thinks the world of her two sons and really misses her son who is still living the UK. I've learned all about the "rules" of dating Caribbean men from Denise (FYI: complicated. Think I'll stick with my Canadian boy). We've celebrated successful weeks overlooking the sea, sipping a cocktail at Friday happy hour. We've lamented over tough case conferences with chocolates on our office couch at coffee break. We've all introduced our family and friends to each other when they come on island to visit. These are the people who helped me create my "worry box" when they saw that I was stressed out about my surgeries. (A worry box is little red box where I can store my worries, by the way - I'm pretty sure it's a psych tool used when working children with anxiety disorders, but whatevs. It works!). This is a unique workplace. Something happens when you bring together such a diverse group of people who all moved away and made so many sacrifices to be where they are - you become attached. Fast.

This week was tough. We said farewell - good luck - bon voyage to one of our best, Stephanie. Stephanie is an Educational Psychologist and has been here for 2 years. She decided to move on to her next adventure and do her Post-doc in Minneapolis this Fall (I know, I warned her…It's chilly. Well,  let's be honest, Minneapolis is almost Saskatchewan cold!)  Stephanie hails from Jamaica and is smart, witty, hard-working, and thoughtful. She's very beautiful and we lovingly refer to her as "Jamaican Barbie." Stephanie taught me that "buddy" means "penis" in Jamaican (The horror of realizing that I've been calling my  students "buddy" for 8 months - remember when I introduced "buddy week"?? - "Hey kids, grab your buddy and bring him to speech today!" ACK!!!). Stephanie taught me that "Soon come" means, "be back soon" (or..."I'm skipping out of work early and I will not see you again today," depending on who is saying it. Haha),  and she taught me that Jamaican Bulla (ginger flavoured heavy carb) settles any stomach.

I've only known Stephanie for a year, yet she was such an integral part of my recovery this summer. When I was at my lowest, feeling sick, useless and sorry for myself, she sent a package containing all my favourite Caribbean treats, along with a note telling me how much I was missed at the office and encouraging me to hurry up and get well because they needed me back! It completely lifted my spirits and pushed me to keep going, at a time I wasn't sure I even wanted to.  It reminded me that I would and could actually get through this. Thanks, buddy friend. That was awesome. It's super cool when someone whom you've just recently met "gets" you and impacts your life in such a short period of time. I'm a firm believer that people come in and out of your life at specific times for a reason. Stephanie was one of my "people."

So although one of the perks of working and living here is meeting so many interesting, diverse people, the downside is all the goodbyes. Cayman is a transient location. People are constantly coming in and heading out. I went to buy a "farewell, good luck" card from the card shop today and they were completely sold out. Coincidence? Most employees here are on 2 year work permits. Upon meeting someone, the conversation typically goes like this, "How long have you been here? So when are you leaving?"

Evan and I discussed this oddity:

"Ev, it's so weird, people are always asking, 'How long will you stay? When are you moving on?"

"It's just like hockey life,  'When are you moving on? Where will you go next?"

Wow. It is. It bears an uncanny resemblance to my previous life as a "hockey wife." Obviously I'm attracted to this transient lifestyle for some reason. I guess I'm drawn to the excitement - the highs and lows of trying something brand new - meeting and learning from such diverse, interesting, adventurous people and then saying goodbye - well goodbye for now anyway. Good luck, Steph. Buy a toque and some Sorels, buddy. Soon come.

Since this pic was taken, we lost Kevin, Raven, and Steph. We miss you guys!!

My birthday

Steph always looks much more poised in pics than me. Perhaps it's because she's sober.