A vacation “home”…Can you ever go back?
I’m going on a trip. A vacation. I haven’t been on a vacation in about a year. The last true vacation that I went on, that involved passports and airplanes, was last February to Scottsdale, Arizona. I was seeking the sun, some warmth on my skin and an adventure. I got both. I look back on that trip fondly and the memories I have of the journey and of course, the photographic evidence. I’m no longer friends with my co-adventurer on that excursion. It’s a reminder of how quickly things, dynamics, people can change. Evolve. Or devolve.
This time I’m going to the Bahamas. A vacation home. I lived in the Bahamas for two years. From 2013 to 2015 I was a resident of the tropical island. Along with my then 16 year old cat. She had more stamps in her passport than most people did! The last time I was in the Bahamas was two and a half years ago. I returned to complete all the “business” I had there, to tie up loose ends, to cut ties and move on. In truth, I’m not sure that I ever looked back.
It’s been almost three years since I left the island. If I said I was a bit nervous I would be downplaying my feelings. There was lots of life there. Lots of memories, good and bad. But I need a break from my life in Vancouver. The last few months have thrown me plenty of opportunities for growth and learning, but it’s time for some palm trees and mini umbrellas in my drinks.
During my time on the island, I made a concerted effort to join the community, to belong and engage the way I would anywhere. To make the island my home. I worked, I made friends (really, really close friends, who remain that way to this day, hence the trip), I joined a gym, well a few gyms, and I found animal rescue organizations to volunteer for. I made an effort to integrate. It became my home. I found the Bahamas much easier to make friends than in Vancouver. And I found those friends to be lifelong. Some have come to Vancouver, others I’ve seen in various locations, such as Vegas, and still others I have managed to maintain an online pen pal type relationship. Regardless, my main motivation for returning, aside from the mini umbrellas, is to see them again.
Returning “home” has me wondering if you can ever truly “go back”? Someone said to me today, “have fun and enjoy your time, it’s a new chapter of your life now, try to see the island like it was the first time for you.” It is a new chapter for me. This trip is an attempt at hitting control-alt-delete. But I will never be able to see the island like it was the first time I saw it. I’m sure the island hasn’t changed that much. Nowhere ever really does. But I certainly have. These eyes are not able to see the island like they did that first time because these eyes have seen so much more in these last two and a half years. I’m not the same person I was when I left. My experiences have shaped me and changed the lens through which I view the world. I’m curious what that world is going to look like when I step back into it.
I have grown and I have changed. There is no going back. Only forward motion. And teeny tiny umbrellas, the ones that are definitely not used to shield me from the rain in Vancouver, but rather to shield my drink from the sun and maybe let the ice last a few seconds longer.