Today marks 2 months of living in Jamaica. 61 days. 9 weeks. It most definitely feels like I’ve been here longer.
In the book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes a technique to live longer, or rather, feel like you lived longer. Instead of doing the same thing day in and day out (which makes the passage of time unremarkable), cram all sorts of new and unusual experiences into your life so that you have many markers of the passage of time (I’d quote the actual section but the book is packed away in a cardboard box in my parents’ crawl space). I am pretty sure this is what I am currently going through: so many new experiences that the passage of time has changed speed so as to fit them all in.
I now have habits, routines and tricks to make my new life work. I’ve figured out how to overcome obstacles that bothered me (no new cockroach sightings!), let go of things that couldn’t be changed (after work trips to the gym are now a part of the routine), and learned new skills that were made for this world (I can now cross the road without people offering me assistance). In short, I *think* I have started to adapt!
In the grand scheme of things, this adaptation has happened in such a short time that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. The day I wake up and find that “Jamaica time” is obnoxious instead of endearing. When I can no longer let the catcalls slide. When the REAL culture shock hits. It’s one thing to know where to get the best fruit (pro tip: it’s at the organic farmers’ market every second Saturday), but it is another thing altogether to be able to know how to fit in to a new culture without special accommodations. There are still difficulties to come, I am sure, but for now I am happy and enjoying my new home.
Of course, I miss my ‘real’ home too. My visit with David was a lovely treat and escape from the reality of my new everyday life. I felt pangs of wistfulness missing out on baby showers and Easter dinner and opening nights. I am surprisingly jealous of the beautiful Vancouver spring that is filling up my social media feed, and find myself dreaming of rhubarb and fresh peas and wearing sweaters.
Spring has arrived in Kingston too, only here they call it “the rainy season”. Each morning is warm and humid, like you just stepped out of the shower. Each afternoon brings a downpour of such magnitude that literal rivers of water wash down the road. It took all of 3 days of rain for the grass to go from straw dry to luscious green at the Governor General’s house. New flowers have begun to blossom, seemingly overnight. Last week, the most ridiculous amount of butterflies took over the city. On my walks to work, I had to swat them out of the way, they were thick like a snowstorm. Butterflies may be the only creature on earth that bring only joy when they swarm.
I share these observations of spring not as a metaphor for metamorphosis or rebirth or awakening, but rather to point out how quickly things can change when they have the right conditions. The thing that strikes me most about Jamaica lately is how much hope there is here. People may have very little, and they may be overcoming some hardships and difficulties that you and I could never truly comprehend, but they have such optimism for the future! When I look around, I see so much opportunity for the people here; all that is needed is the right conditions in order for people to thrive. I am hopeful that my time here will play a small part in creating that opportunity.