Monday, September 5, 2011

Status Report

I’ve been here on St. Thomas for 3 ½ months now, so I figured I was due to express my honest feelings about some of the things I’ve learned in addition to some of the hardships and hopes that I have for my new found home. 

I’ll start with what I’ve learned up to this point.  I’m happy to say that most things have been positive, small and simple.  For example, I’ve learned that one of the best moments of my day is watching the sunrise when it’s coming up over the ocean and the islands in the distance (see pic below).  I realize that the highlight of swimming or paddle boarding is spotting a sting ray or sea turtle glide right by.  Every day, I can appreciate how carefree it is to take my dogs outside without needing a leash to walk them.  I’ve learned that Birkenstocks are more comfortable than flip flops, calamine lotion is better for mosquito bites than hydro cortisone, too much saltwater will give my dog diarrhea and olive oil will protect my hair from drying out from the ocean and sun. 

Since the cable goes out often, I’ve found that a good book or card game is much more gratifying than TV.  I’ve learned that a warmer, sunnier climate can make me want to be more active, and I now know that my favorite meal is fresh seafood that was just picked up from our usual fish market by the marina.  By now, I’m starting to understand the dialect down here, which is in fact English.  However, the best and most important thing that I’ve learned is how much stronger a relationship can get when you both move away together to a very foreign place.
Of course it hasn’t all been sunny days and beach balls, as there have been plenty of tough moments and tears.  More than anything, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to let go of a career that I unfortunately allowed myself to be defined by for 10 years.  And, I miss the life in Chicago that enabled me to catch a Cubs game on a weeknight with my friends, eat junk food at a summer street festival, head out for a concert or meet up with a friend for Happy Hour or lunch. I miss jogging and biking through Lincoln Park and making a quick coffee run to Starbucks.  In general, I miss how nice things are in the States.  I took it for granted how pleasing, efficient and accommodating everything is up there…smooth and well-marked roads, big shiny department stores and fancy grocery stores that are fully stocked with fresh, non-moldy food.  Things up there are well maintained and taken care of - I miss that.
Anyhow, since I haven’t been down here for very long, there’s no question that I still look forward to the many experiences and memories to come.  In particular, I’m most excited about finding some new passions – something that I probably haven’t focused on enough in my life.  At the top of my long checklist, I’m most enthusiastic about sailing, scuba diving and traveling.  And, I'm eager to continue down this path here since it has allowed me to redirect my attention to what’s important in life.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that at times it’s been tough for me to understand that life isn’t about the latest leather boots that I want to buy, or the next big-time sale that would make my year at work.  However, when you live a fast-paced life in a big city, it can be extremely easy to get caught up in superficial things.  It is for this reason that I am most thankful for making this choice to change my course in life.  
However, I’m still going to try to search for a place that can serve a non-fat, no foam, one shot, extra hot, grande, latte…please!           

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