Leaving and then returning to Jamaica has given me a fresh perspective on this place. Yes, I sweat. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s rough and often inconvenient. Yes, there are ants all over my kitchen. And yes, I am alone most of the time. However, I was pleasantly alerted to the fact that I have built up somewhat of a life here. It was heartwarming to return to my apartment complex last week to have the security guards at the front gate notice I was back. They got really excited to see me and asked how the family was. As did the driver I usually call – Gregory. “Welcome,” he exclaimed with joy when he picked me up at the airport, “I didn’t think you’d come back”.
Although it’s been hard to go from being surrounded constantly by family and friends to being back on my own, Jamaica is a pretty beautiful place to land. The sea and mountains took my breath away all over again. I immediately appreciated the reprieve from the cold weather and my illness from the North has faded away. The horns seem somewhat less loud and aggressive, as do the men. (Although a policeman today, in the middle of a road-side arrest, made sure I knew that he liked me as I strolled by. Really?) Space and time away has made me react less harshly to the realities of living in a developing country. Breaks are good.
As was the break from home. Five months away is a long time. Butterflies in my stomach as I landed, the city looked the same but I was vastly different. I felt the emotional tugs and pulls as the memories flooded back. I did avoid driving to and through places that were too close to my lost love, as I didn’t want to physical landmarks to trigger a past that I’m desperately trying to move forward from. In the end, fear was ultimately overtaken by strength and love. I’ve come a long way.