Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Butter

I stand, muffling my laughter with my sleeve as my 6-year-old moans like a middle-aged woman in a luxury spa for the first time. We touched down in Chicago and made our way to the moppet house. Late. Real late.
We were shown to our room, mouths agape at the generosity being showered upon us. When the arrival-excitement settled, Max climbed into bed.
"Oh... Ooooh... Mmmmmm... Mama!" he swooned, wriggling himself down under the covers.
"Yes?" I attempted composure.
"This bed... this... this is soooo niiiiiice," he snuggled in like he was back in the womb (he arrived two weeks late, I might add, he liked it so much).

We soon realized the mental list expanding: people, places, things, conveniences. We'd become accustomed to them all and had been missing out while on the island.
Comfortable beds, climate-controlled rooms, both hot and cold water--at any hour of the day or night, drinking from the faucet without fear of much more than a bad taste, windows with screens instead of bars, flushing soiled toilet paper, I could go on.
And I will. But just one more. One in particular which deserves full recognition here.
Butter.
In third grade, when the snotty kid mocked, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?",  I actually thought, not a bad idea. I will be loyal to butter for the rest of my days. Alas, the Caribbean is not known for its exceptional dairy products. Quite the contrary. I vowed to show butter I still loved her, despite the long-distance relationship, while back in the States. More stretchy pants, please.

We walked into a supermarket the next day and were overcome with the need to buy stuff like it was going out of style. You can't trick materialism out of your life just by moving away from all the things that tempt you.
"This feels weird," I whispered to Josh as I drooled over soft, fluffy throw pillows. (Really, Rebecca, throw pillows? Yes, dear reader. And it didn't stop there.)
"I guess that'll be the trick for us. How do we come back here and enjoy all the States has to offer without letting it overtake us?" Josh asked, not expecting an answer.
"Detachment is so tricky," I said, realizing the weight of our conversation, but still allowing my eyes to take in a sale on the next aisle over.
I was worried that coming back to the homeland just weeks after moving away would be like an awkward phone call after a nasty break-up I initiated.
"Umm.... hi. I understand why you didn't pick up the phone, but I'm leaving a message anyway. Uuhhhh. Did I leave my Beastie Boys cd at your place? Welllll.... okay, thanks. Bye!"
But it was more like the States had broken up with me. And I wanted her back. Real bad.


Immediately enveloped in the love and warmth of our friends, we relaxed easily into their lives, albeit for a short visit. Their kids are home-schooled, so ours got a 'day-in-life'. Teacher Annie called out, "Circle time in 10 minutes!" to warn wild children school was starting. Zora walked up to me, eyes wide with hope. "Circle time, Mama?" she searched my face like someone had just offered her chocolate cake and was waiting for my blessing. She lit up like it was Ayyam-i-Ha when I nodded yes. Looks like she's been missing part of our US lives as well, though, admittedly not material. In addition to the frequent quoting of her former preschool teacher ("Teacher Kelly says nothing goes in your nose, eyes or ears, Max!"), every once in a while she'll turn to me and say, "I miss Teacher Kelly." Sweet little thing.

On our drive to Columbus for the birthday party, Josh turned to me.
"So, why aren't we doing this?" he gestured toward suburbia, having lived two days in someone else's dream that was a genuinely beautiful life.
"Good question," I laughed. And we paused. "We could use our savings for a down payment on a house here," I said, realizing that if we wanted this, it wasn't out of our reach.
We were silent for a moment. Then smiled at each other, knowing.
Because we wouldn't be happy. What we're attempting, right now, on this little island, is exactly what we want at the end of the day. While we are still very materialistic and needy, of course, we've been fortunate enough to look to the core of our hopes and dreams and find common ground. So here we are.

2 comments:

  1. You will achieve a balance between island life and the U.S. It will take time and serious withdawls but I believe you all will be better because of it. I am very proud of you and your family. You are an inspiration and fabulous role model. Love you!
    -Ann the Supreme Flake

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  2. You made us laugh and cry. Very nice.

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