You see, I'm quite homesick. I've been dreaming of St Vincent. I so badly want to take a trip home. I want to show Mr Caramel where I grew up. Take him to all my favorite spots. Let him see why St Vincent will always be home to me. In clarifying for Mr Caramel I realized that I have two places that I consider to be home, and probably always will. St Vincent will always be home. It was my first home and will forever hold a special place in my heart. But North Carolina is my current home. It's where my life is. So I've decided to list the things that I like about each of my homes.
Let's start with my current home - North Carolina:
- This is where my life is now: I have an amazing husband, a wonderful job and great friends.
- I love how many things there are to do in and around Charlotte. I can go to the ballet, to a musical, to any number of parks or museums. There are several movie theaters close by. And if I'm in the mood for it - the mall is always an option.
- I've come to like the distinct seasons. I enjoy seeing the differences as the year rolls through. Each season brings something new. Although, winter will always be my least favorite. I don't like the cold!
- When I have to shop - whether for clothes, school supplies, food or whatever - I enjoy the variety and relatively low prices that I just wouldn't be able to get in the Caribbean.
- I must admit, I've become a bit spoiled. I like the convenience of drive-through restaurants, self-checkouts, businesses that are open late and the ability to pay my bills and do almost everything online. No more standing in impossibly long lines at the bank on pay day.
- You can be more of an individual here. I am my own person. I am not defined as 'Ms So-and-so's daughter' or 'Mr X's grand-daughter'. In St Vincent, everyone knows everyone and their family. So it's sometimes hard to find your identity, separate from your family's. No one here has pre-conceived ideas for the person I should be because of my family.
Now let's move to St Vincent:
- I enjoy the weather back home. I never have to worry about temperatures in the 30s or 40s. St Vincent has two seasons: hot and wet or hot and dry. I miss that sometimes, especially in the middle of winter.
- People back home are so friendly. It used to annoy me sometimes. You simply cannot go anywhere without running into someone who knows you or your family. And when you're running errands, you're bound to run into someone you know who wants to talk forever and has to inquire about your mother, your sister, your aunt, your grandparents - your entire family! But now I miss that friendliness and the feeling of community. Here, you're just another face in a sea of people.
- I love the natural beauty of St Vincent. The simply gorgeous beaches with clear blue water. The green mountains. The stunning sunrises and sunsets. The tropical flowers and birds. Sitting out on the porch and looking at the sun go down over the sea and seeing the fireflies come out.
- St Vincent operates in a much more laid-back manner. There are no cars flying along highways at a gazillion miles an hour. Here, everyone seems to always be rushing. In St Vincent, it's not uncommon to hear about 'Vincy time'. In other words, if we're planning to be somewhere at 2pm Vincy time, it's probably going to be closer to 3pm. There are days here when the idea of speeding along the highway for 30 minutes to get to work just seems like the greatest challenge in the world.
- The culture. Oh the culture. I have no one to speak dialect with here. And if I say soca, someone will look at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. I miss the excitement and color of Carnival and Nine Mornings. At those times, it's like the very air is buzzing with the excitement of the people.
- Racism is not an issue. Growing up, racism was something you read about or saw in the news. Skin color was just a color, not something that defined a person. And no one bats an eye if two people with different complexions get married. Sadly, that is not the case here. And one day, when I have children, they'll have to deal with being bi-racial.
- The food. I'm going to make myself hungry just thinking about breadfruit, freshly made fruit juice, plumrose, well-cooked fish, rice and stew peas, coconut dumpling ... ok I'm going to stop there. Let's just say, I'm yet to find anything as good as good Caribbean cooking.
I realized as I was writing this, that some of the things I like were diametrically opposite to each other. I like the convenience of doing business online or going through self-checkout lines here. But I also miss chatting with a cashier in the bank, who's known you since you were a kid. I love the variety afforded to me through malls and super-stores here. But I miss the small stores in St Vincent, where it's easy to ask the owner for a discount, since they're sitting right there and they'll give you the discount because they know your mother, or your sister was in school with their sister, or any other obscure relation.
It made me realize that I can't have it both ways. If I could wave a magic wand, I'd live 6 months in North Carolina and 6 months in St Vincent. Because when I'm here, I miss St Vincent. And I know that if I were in St Vincent, I'd miss North Carolina after a while. I don't think it's a case of 'the grass is always greener'. I think it's more of a recognition that each place is special in its own way and provides something that the other cannot.
So perhaps I should think a little less about how homesick I am and think more on how lucky I am to have two incredible, beautiful places to call home.