Last weekend I took my first trip back to the mainland since I moved down to St. Thomas last May. I was super excited to go up to New England to visit my best friend and have some quality time in the States. I left on Friday and came home on Monday, so it was a quick trip but after 6 straight months on the island, it ended up being exactly what I needed.
Knowing that I was heading for some colder weather, I spent Thursday night digging through a bag of musty smelling cloths that I had stored away. I pulled out a fleece, parka, some sweaters, a leather bag and a couple of scarves. After laying out all my clothes, shoes and accessories on the bed and eliminating half of it, I packed the rest into my bag.
Once I was satisfied with what I was bringing for my weekend getaway, I started to anticipate what it would feel like to be back in the States after 6 months away. Would I miss being away from the island, or when faced with all the familiarity and the conveniences of the mainland, would I realize that I’m too Stateside to be an island girl? I was anxious to figure this all out.
My flight took off on Friday morning, and I had a short lay-over in Miami, which would be my first encounter with ‘home’. As the plane began its decent and the stale smell of my fleece started to fade, I took a look out the window of the plane. There it was…that large mass of land that only a few short months ago I had lived on for my entire life. I noticed how flat the land was and how there appeared to be an endless amount of developed buildings and houses – one right on top of the other one with no gaps inbetween. I also noticed how squared off and similar the taller skyscrapers were in downtown Miami.
When I got off the plane at the Miami airport I had about an hour to grab a bite to eat, and then board my next flight to LaGuardia. As I made my way down the terminal I couldn’t help but notice how nice, efficient and convenient the airport seemed to be. The clean, black tiled floor had these pretty little silver designs of sea creatures in it that I couldn’t stop looking at. I noticed that there was vibrantly colored art on the wall from local artists. And, when I went to the bathroom, I practically ran right into a cleaning lady that was coming in to sweep my stall the second that I stepped out of it. Then, there was the convenience of a tram that would take me from gate D24 all the way to gate D29 - I opted to walk instead. On my way, I grabbed some seemingly fresh sushi and a Diet Coke and boarded my on-time departure to head to my final destination.
As my connecting flight began to approach New York City, I started contemplating whether I’d prefer a latte or a café mocha from Starbucks…the latte was always my go-to coffee in Chicago, but the mocha certainly is delicious. Of course, there is coffee in St. Thomas, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I somehow, unknowingly, developed a certain dependency on Starbucks coffee. What can I say? I miss it. So, upon stepping off this flight and into LaGuardia airport – a far cry from the Miami airport, I might add - I somewhat desperately looked around for a Starbucks. Unfortunately, my memory of Starbucks taking over the entire USA, if not the world, must have been exaggerated because I didn’t find it on my way to baggage claim and had to postpone my frothy beverage craving.
After getting my bag, I met my friend, and we started the drive up to her house in Connecticut. As we hit the highway, my distraction for a coffee turned into a bit of concern over the speed at which we were moving. Could she really be going only 65 mph? I haven’t gone over 35 mph in a car in months, so this felt really, really fast and kind of dangerous. Regardless, until we reached her house, we continued on with the type of non-stop chitter chatter that only two best friends that have been away from each other for a while can generate.
The rest of the weekend I spent quality time with my friend and her family, and it felt really good to catch up. Naturally, she was sure to help me indulge in some of the other things I missed like eating a decent steak and quality Indian food, going to the movies and shopping at the local CVS drug store. And, of course, she took me to get my café mocha. It was delicious.
|Spending quality Halloween time with my friend's daughters.|
Alas, when the weekend was over and it was time to go home, I didn’t feel all the emotions that I thought I would. I thought that I’d be really sad to leave the States again. Or, that I would have missed St. Thomas so much that I couldn’t wait to leave the snow storm that had just hit New England and head back to paradise. However, I think all I needed to know was that the States are still there and accessible to me. They aren’t going away, and I can go be there whenever I want. I know this seems obvious, but when you’re away from home for a long time and feel a little homesick, you can find a lot of comfort in seeing that home is still there – the same as it always was and probably always will be.
So, my emotions upon heading back to the island were simple. I just looked forward to seeing my boyfriend again.