I’ve been back on Roatan for a week now (a very busy week! more about this later!) and absence really does make the heart grow fonder. While I am already missing good sushi and fast internet, I am relishing every walk I take down the street that takes me 20 extra minutes because I have so many people to say hi to. Being back underwater has been immensely helpful in getting my stress levels in regular parameters, and I’ve been lucky to be diving with a shop this week that is…wait for it… AIR CONDITIONED, so that has eased the transition quite a bit!
From the moment I had this view on the plane, I smiled and thought, “I’m home”. Not just because this is where my stuff has been for two years or where I have a lease, but because this is where I feel like I’m home. Even though a couple islanders thoughtfully pointed out this is not my home simply because I was not born here (in their books, anyway), thankfully it’s up to me to decide where I make my home…and right now it’s here.
Now, all the lovely warm fuzzies aside, let it be on the record that I feel the exact same way in Vancouver. And Victoria. And San Pedro in Belize. And pretty much anywhere on the east coast of Canada. Oh, and San Francisco, Ucluelet and Kyoto, too.
Obviously it’s wonderful that I’m happy to be back on the island (if I wasn’t, after 5 weeks away, that would be a sure sign that my time here is over) but I started thinking about how and why I could feel at home in so many different places.
Eventually I realized that growing up in a military family where we moved every couple of years has had a profound impact on my adult life that I hadn’t thought about before. I was a painfully shy and awkward kid, terrified of trying anything new in case I wasn’t very good at it and burning with shame if I made an attempt and failed. However, being essentially forced into an entirely new life every couple of years made me great at a few things after a while. It drove the shyness right out of me. I have no fear of new places. I can make friends with anyone. I am outgoing. I can set up a life in a brand new place and be adjusted in a manner of weeks, where I see others taking months or years to settle in. I can pack and unpack my apartments in hours. And, as I found out recently, I can throw a few things in a backpack on a few hours notice, find my way alone to a different place that I know absolutely nothing about and successfully figure it out when I get there.
I had never attributed these personal qualities before to my upbringing but the more I thought about how deeply I can feel that I am ‘home’ in a place that I wasn’t born in, didn’t grow up in, or didn’t spend years and years in, I connected the dots. I think having the ability to quickly adjust and adapt to whatever place or situation you’re in is an invaluable life skill.
It might not be helping my gypsy hobo tendencies at all, but damn it feels good to be a chameleon.