Friends return from the high altitudes of South America, breathless and vowing to kiss every weed that’s grown in their garden since they’ve been gone. They came home early, tired of being tourists. They missed good friends, their cozy island kitchen and homegrown food. Back on home soil, they prostrate to paradise.
In early March, I’m in the swaying palm oasis. Bare legs, a thin dress and no socks. I chop fresh ginger and squeeze lemon from the tree. Prep beets from Mary’s garden that I’ll pair with one of the four softball-sized avocados left on my front door step. I eat a banana from the grove outside my door. The spread of fresh food before me is a tropical cornucopia, my everyday fare.
Then why so grumpy? I’ve been laying in bed for a week in a fevered state wondering what on earth I’m doing on this island out in the middle of no where. It’s been fourteen years and counting. Is this where I’ll end my days? A picturesque backdrop to some honeymooner’s photo album?
Am I ungratefully peering down the throat of the fruitful gift horse? Why does it feel like there’s a price to eat in paradise? Because no one eats for free and my ticket to ride is the cost of isolation. Living in this remote locale sometimes feels as though Jeb and I are islands unto ourselves, floating out in a vast sea. Because we are.
Maybe I’m just edgy because it’s been four days without coffee and small things are getting on my nerves. I’m in one of those moods where it’s actually annoying to hear someone exclaim, “This island is so beautiful!” It’s no fun to be bummed in paradise.
I know the grass is greener syndrome. I’ve seen the cattle lean through barb wire to flap their lips towards what they must think are longer, more luscious stems. Friends whisk away on an exotic trip to the Andes only to make a U-turn back home. Their appreciative comments on the drive back from the airport reverberate from the cornucopia bullhorn.
“Ah, the air is so warm!”
“I can’t wait to eat from the garden again!”
“I love our road!”
Which end of the horn am I looking through? The small and narrow opening or the gushing wide mouth full of plenty? Is it possible to see all of the abundance and still honor the fact that island life can be hard?
As I sip my vanilla tea this morning, I hear my grumbles. I guess I’ll follow the grumpy thread, peel a banana, and maybe more will be revealed.