I’m finally back from my trip to the land of sun and sand and blue ocean waves. It was an amazing journey and oddly, very educational. Even though I was only gone for a week, it’s taught me a lot about how to approach life.
I might as well warn you now, this is going to be an exceptionally long post.
Some background… My family and I went to the Caribbean to celebrate my cousin’s second wedding (don’t get me started). Although there weren’t that many people from our side of the family attending, one important person did attend – my closest cousin, Missy. If I had to pick someone that I can say I grew up with, she’d be that person. In some ways she’s like the older sister I’ve never had and in many ways, she’s like the childhood friend that I’m still tight with. I can actually say that I’ve seen her grow up and she can say the same about me. We’ve got a very strange dynamic, but ultimately what matters is that we’re family.
Anyways, of the guests that attended the wedding, most were the couple’s friends (many of which seemed to be more the bride’s friends than the grooms). The reason I point this out is because there is a pretty big age gap between the bride and the groom (my cousin). I recently discovered that the bride is a mere 28-years-old, which isn’t that unusual of brides… but unnerving because I’m currently 24 and Missy is 27. My cousin, the groom, happens to be 39 this year. Yowza.
I’m not really saying that the age difference should be a hinderance to their relationship – god knows that love reaches past almost all boundaries. The reason I point this out is because most of the people that showed up to the wedding happened to be in their mid to late-twenties and were definitely the type of crowd to party hard. It was interesting to see, because Missy and I (who were generally younger than said crowd) didn’t party at all.
Now, I’m not saying that we don’t go and club or drink or party, but I’m saying we didn’t do it like these guys did. It was crazy. People were puking in the ocean, freaking out over phospherous tides (a point Missy got stuck on), stumbling around pools, screaming obscenities (“yoko ono you only olo once, niggah”) and other typical drunken behaviour.
Another point we noticed was that a lot of the older couples (read: friends of the groom) seemed to be very bitter and sour towards everyone else. A part of it might have to do with the fact that many of them are probably still friends with my cousin’s ex-wife. Another part of it might have to do with the fact that they’re just plain bitches. Who knows. One woman in particular (wife of the best man), was a real snob. For some reason, she clearly did not want to be there. She spent the whole time being bitchy towards the groom’s family, being snotty if people got her name wrong or if they accidentally reintroduced themselves. What have I learned from this? Well, that a lot of people are just plain not friendly and that you shouldn’t really bother with them. Just let them be. Hey, I never said the lessons would always be gold.
Besides that, I spent a majority of my time lying out like a bloated porpoise in the sun on the beach. It was fantastic. Listening to the waves crash on the shore, people laughing, feeling the salty ocean breathing, the sun beaming down on you… it was amazing. God. The thing about me is that I appreciate the simple things. I’m not the type of person that wants to be all “go-go-go” all the time. I’d rather wander down quite streets and enjoy a coffee at a cafe. I’d rather sit along a lake and watch the ripples on the surface. So, this was definitely my speed. That and the unlimited, endless, delicious food. Seriously. Food. My god.
The food deserves it’s own paragraph. That being said, not everything I ate was amazing, but most of it was. And even if it wasn’t, it was still free and endless. The best thing though? Papaya. Fresh and juicy. My god. This stuff doesn’t exist in North America. Seriously, that stuff is amazing. Missy and I just ate plates and plates of that stuff alone. We’d scoop up literally half of the papaya they put out and watch the waiters scratch their heads as to why the papaya was disappearing minutes after they’d just replenished it. It was that delicious.
Most of the food was pretty epic. I mean, you can’t beat fresh seafood and the fresh fruit. And oddly enough, really great steak. The chocolate coissants for breakfast were pretty hard to beat too. And the drinks. Mmmmm… It’s times like these I wish I could drink. My god, some of those cocktails looked amazing… And I heard the rum was pretty good too. And the Mamajuanna, which is a local booze made from rum, honey, wine & some roots of this medicinal plant. For women, it’s supposed to help with general health, but for men it’s supposed to cure impotency. Yup. Of course it does 😉
The only downside to this trip was the fact that there was no internet or wifi for the entire week. God, for a person that lives on the internet… this was an incredible challenge for the first few days. But eventually, I started to realize that I could survive without it. In particular, because I couldn’t really use my phone for much other than listening to music, I couldn’t talk to my friends or check up on R. (so to speak).
Maybe the best part of the whole week was something that I realized afterwards when I got home – I spent a whole week and I didn’t think about R. I didn’t spend the time missing him and I didn’t pine him. It was … a relief. It made me realize that if a small vacation and the lack of internet could make me forget about him, then maybe I’m more over him than I realize. Maybe, if I just let myself be over him than I can easily move on. The first night I looked up at those stars on the beach with nothing but the waves as a soundtrack… yes, I did think about him and yes, I did wish that he was sharing that room with me instead of my cousin. But after that, I didn’t dwell on the thought. I didn’t dwell on missing him. Instead, I enjoyed my trip. I laughed at jokes, I played with the kids, I jumped into the ocean, I swam with stingrays and nurse sharks and I danced a lot. The last night before we left, I looked up at those very same stars and I didn’t think about him.
I guess, a part of me will always miss him and miss our story, but I’m getting so much closer to the person I want to be. I’m becoming myself again, not the broken heart I was.
Ahh … and now on to the heavier stuff. Spending so much time with my cousin really made me realize a lot about how time changes us. I mean, this is a person that I grew up with. I’ve known her since we were both playing with barbies or learning how to ride bikes. For a long time, we were the closest two people could be… And then, when I moved to my home now, I didn’t really see much of her for almost 10 years. Things change a lot over that time.
I think a lot of the things I’ve noticed is because I haven’t seen her much recently, but also because I’m more mature myself. Because, I’ve started to pay attention to this stuff… and really listen to what people are saying. More and more I’m starting to see my aunt in Missy, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. You see, my aunt has a lot of issues. First and foremost is the fact that she’s still hung up over her divorce. In a way, she holds on to it as a crutch and in a way, she’s built her whole world around it. Everything she is, everything she does and even everything her children (my cousins) are have all been dictated by this event. And I’m starting to see this attitude leech into my cousin.
When Missy isn’t thinking too much, she’s this fun-loving girl. She’s so goofy and fun to be around. When she doesn’t give a crap about who’s watching, she’s this carefree person that tries to make everyone laugh. It’s the person that I was friends with when I was a child. It’s that same girl. But when she starts to think about who’s watching, she becomes this whole different person. Suddenly she’s this mature ‘adult’. Suddenly, she’s the older sister again and she knows best. It’s just like … a switch has been flipped in her mind. In the past, the divide between these two personalities was fairly minor and she couldn’t really keep up the act for long. She’d always revert back to her carefree self in no time.
But this trip, this was different. The difference between her ‘childish’ personae and her ‘adult’ one was immense. And she spent more so much time cultivating that ‘adult’ image in front of me, as if she had something to prove. As if she had to remind me that she was the adult one. I don’t know what happened, but she started taking life a lot more seriously.
The most ironic part, was that she constantly said she didn’t want to turn out like her mother. She didn’t want to hold on to the past, she didn’t want to hold grudges and she didn’t want to be so concerned with how other people perceived her. And yet, this entire trip… that’s all I got from her. Either it was making snap judgements on other people (like a bridesmaid which turned out to be the sweetest person alive) or complaining about our other cousins, or arguing with drunk people on the beach about phosphorous tides, or spending 45+ minutes every morning on makeup that would eventually wash off while snorkling. It was so strange… Because, the more she said she didn’t want to become her mother, the more of her mother I saw.
I think, I’ve started to realize that whether we like it or not, we turn out similar to our parents. The thing is though, I think we have the ability to choose what we take from them, the good or the bad. We can pick up their bad habits, take their excuses and make them our own, or we can learn to take their positives and make them our own. It’s not an easy thing to realize, because in doing so, you have to realize that you’re not in complete control of who you are. That, there are some things that influence the very fabric of who you are which you may not even realize affect you. Sometimes, it’s almost like we’re these giant spiderwebs and what passes through versus what sticks depends entirely on fate. But, that’s not necessarily true. Yes, there are things that will affect who we are that we cannot control – things like who our parents are, where we are born, our circumstances, etc. But, there are things that we can control – how we react to adversity, our attitude, our outlook, how much work we are willing to do, etc. Although it’s a frightening concept, I’m glad I’ve come to recognize this instead of pretending that it’s not the case, like Missy. She insists that she is not her mother, but in so many ways she is. She still holds grudges against people for making poor decisions a decade ago. She is so quick to judge people based upon first impressions, without giving them a chance to redeem themselves. She is so concerned with how people will look at her if she tells them the truth – that she is childish, or that she didn’t finish university (who cares?), or that she hasn’t had a relationship for how many years. There’s no shame in being who you are and I wish she realized this, but she’s stubborn and won’t listen to me. Sometimes, the best lessons you learn may not always be from the oldest master. It might just very well come from a younger friend… It doesn’t change the message though.
Anyways, this whole trip has made me realize that I can’t really keep her company for more than a couple of weeks at a time. it’s kind of hard to believe that we used to spend 3 months together and were inseparable during the whole thing. Yes, I’m sure we fought, but I get the feeling we’d fight for a day and then immediately forget the whole thing the next morning. Things are so different now, though. I’m fairly sure that if we were to have an argument it’d be another thing she’d hold against me… Even if she says she wouldn’t.