I'm back from vacation, but my brain is still in vacation mode, so I'm not quite there yet. Last week I put on the coffee maker to make 12 cups of coffee for myself and a co-worker and waited patiently until it was all done, only to find out that I never actually put coffee into the machine, and all I did was boil water. I’ll get there eventually, I promise. But can you blame me? I spent almost three hours on a plane to get to St. Croix from Miami, so the flight alone has me drained. Then in the first two days of being there, we drove around the entire island! Every day we were doing something or going somewhere so relaxing wasn’t really an option. I wasn’t even allowed to sleep past nine without someone waking me. Even when we went to the beach, we probably only stayed for about an hour before moving on to the next spot. Of course as a group we couldn’t decide on which activities to do when (like whether or not to go out to dinner, or whether we should continue sightseeing or not). It was crazy! That’s definitely not the way I vacation, but it was such a learning experience.
I had never seen mountains before, so the views were absolutely breath-taking and my camera does it no justice. I loved how they preserved their historic buildings so everything felt authentic. Sure not everyone was polite, but you can’t expect everyone to be. My boyfriend’s family was more than accommodating and I really felt welcomed. They made sure that I really saw the sights and made me feel like a native. His mother loved me even though she didn’t always understand my sense of humour, and his brother went out of his way to bond with me, including showing me how to catch their pet chicken (yes people, they have a pet chicken). I was beginning to be hopeful. Until one day when we were at Big Dock…
Something I didn’t understand was the lack of PDA or the apparent forbiddance of it. While we were there I wasn’t allowed to hold my boyfriend’s hand; not because of a law or because his family is strict. It was really because no one else does it, so we weren’t allowed to do it for fear of sticking out. There was a lot of emphasis on blending in, which I don’t believe in. It felt hard to be myself, with his family’s needs and beliefs coming first. I felt like nothing I did was right or good enough. His sister often called out my drinking, like I should be ashamed for having a drink with lunch from a restaurant while on vacation. There were moments where I was genuinely miserable, especially because I thought I would feel at home in another Caribbean nation. After taking time to reflect on everything I experienced, I realised that St. Croix could never be home for me.
Now this is not meant to say the country is terrible; that is far from the truth. But something changed in me while I was there. With all of the tension and stress from travelling, my boyfriend and I had a HUGE fight; the kind that could really break a couple up. Even after making up, I was still doubtful about a few things, and these fears carried over to our return to Miami. I had officially met his mother. We were official. I mean we were official before, but now it’s really official. Officially official. You know? There’s so much pressure added now from outside forces, on when we’re getting married and when I’m moving. I don’t want to think about any of it. Though the situation is resolved, I was left feeling depressed about so many other things. One thing in particular was an issue in my own family.
While we were there, I received the news I feared the most. My aunt has now been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am a very practical person, not always realistic, but practical. Pancreatic cancer is the most deadly with no hope, no cure. So I immediately began the grieving process. I asked the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I tortured myself with memories of our moments together, and chastised myself for getting inpatient or angry with her whenever she made demands of my time. So after learning this, I wanted to make the most of my trip; of my time on earth. I wanted to see everything there was to see and complain less about things not going according to schedule. But the sadness didn’t go away.
Once we left St. Croix, I thought about all of the topics I wanted to discuss on my blog but couldn’t focus on any of them. For days I stared at a blank screen and no words would come to me. Every now and then, something would pop in my head, but I couldn’t make the connection. I had writer’s block and it was absolutely depressing. My boyfriend did his best to be supportive, with foot massages and even buying the water I like (inside joke because I hate the water he drinks). I spent the days watching marathons of Law and Order SVU and Mythbusters but I just couldn’t shake the depression.
Who gets depressed on vacation? Isn’t the point of vacation to unwind to refresh? I was able to recognise the trigger, but not the reason why I was stuck. I felt so worthless when I got back and even worse, I couldn’t talk to my mum about it because she’s with my aunt in Tennessee while she gets her first round of chemo. And that’s when I realised why I was stuck. No matter what, my mum is always there for me. We have a very close relationship. I call her while at work just to give her jokes, or tell her how my day is going, even though I’m going to see her at home. But I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t call her during the day at work and I wasn’t going to see her at home. That’s what changed. Once I was able to recognise this, I started to feel better. I don’t like being depressed. I don’t like feeling trapped inside my own mind. I knew that I was way too old to be sitting at home crying because I missed my mommy. And just like that I snapped out of it. I wrote a post last week on my favourite sunglasses and began to feel hopeful again. I even dressed up on Friday to keep myself in a good mood, went to happy hour and did a little shopping on Saturday that I can't wait to tell you about. And here I am finally writing about my trip.
But yesterday my mum came back with my aunt and we found out it was stage four and aggressive. Just like that, everything I did to feel better didn't matter any more. The amazing message I received in church, my funky new sunglasses, even my newest ice cream that I made to keep everyone's spirits up did nothing to ease my mind once I got that news. I couldn't sleep because I was angry. I ended up crying for about thirty minutes uncontrollably before I finally fell asleep. I wanted to be ready to move on. I thought I was. She's still alive and here I am grieving like she's already dead. I promise I'll find a way to pull myself together, so forgive me for posting less regularly.
It's weird. I went into my vacation with my biggest fear being that my future mother-in-law would hate me. She loved me. But now I'm grieving someone I love.
At the risk of this post ending on a sour note, I'll leave you with this hilarious video of myself trying to catch a chicken. Enjoy!