So when does it start to feel like home? Is it by the number of pairs of shoes that you collect in your condo’s entrance? Or with the number of swimwear that accumulates on your towel rack? Or is it by the repetitive salutations of acquaintances that you encounter at the grocery store, local pub or just strolling down the beach at night? Maybe you realize that your skin surprisingly started to toughen up to the daily absorption of tropical UV rays and the bombing of mosquito bites, fire coral burns and jelly fish stings? How much and how long does it take to really consider yourself… at home?
I recently found a different taste to the island: the adaptation to the constant hot, humid and sunny weather, the homey comfort of my apartment, the growing circle of friends and acquaintances (at the end, you pretty much met the whole island), and the feeling of being ok with living far away… But do I feel like home?
I still miss my friends, my dogs, the mountains and my life back home. It will almost be a year that I landed foot on this rock. It was interesting to see the emotional progress. I came from being scared and lonely, to feeling comfortable and at ease. And as this Caribbean chapter is about to end, I am not sure if I am quite ready to let go of it yet.
The first 5 months of being away, I still starved to go back home. And then a friend told me: ‘’you JUST got here. This is a new habitat for you. It takes time to mark territory, build amenity and create contentment and assurance. Don’t run back to comfort zone and security. Experience and learn about those feelings you have and grow out of it. Be strong, be confident. This island has a lot to offer, be kind and heart open and go forward. Give yourself the time to be completely submerged with the venture that you gave yourself and get out of it enlightened and accomplished. Don’t give up, just not yet’’. He was right. I came back home on vacation for the Holidays and it was hard to come back to the island. But weeks went by and I committed to my ‘’Cayman To Do List’’. I kept myself busy not only with work and social gathering (which literally were 2 full time jobs during my first months) but I started to fill my time off with stimulating activities. I really got into scuba diving and I try to go on the water at least twice a week. I attempt to go to places I haven’t been, try a new restaurant for lunch or drive around the island in search of a Sunday getaway brunch. I want to take advantage of the Cayman Airways’ low airline fares to explore the islands nearby, like I did when I met up with Mom in Cuba for the weekend. I want to do it all and give this island experience a big and sincere ‘’check’’. I am even considering purchasing a car, just for the liberty and the freedom for my last months on the rock. But hold on a minute, wouldn’t this be getting closer to settling down?
So yeah… After those months of serenading loneliness and homesickness, here I am in Grand Cayman, living the Island Life at its fullest. With doubts at first, but no regrets at last, I stuck to the guns and battled through this separation anxiety that followed me all along. I realized that we all moved away from something, and we all felt lonely at first. But I had to remember that we are all lonely together. So there I go on this piece of rock in the middle of the Caribbean, telling myself: this is starting to feel like home…