The laughter was thick. The dance party was legit. I sat on the rooftop balcony of a new friend’s apartment with a gaggle of other women and took it all in. The new friendships I was starting with smart, funny women who laughed at my jokes as easily as I laughed at their jokes. (Do you know how hard that is to find??) This new city that everyday becomes more and more our home (though I’m still completely lost getting around). The memories I’m making here that claw their way into my life, competing with memories made on that little (not so little) island I left behind.
I came home giddy – like coming home from a fabulous first date. Husband was curious how the night went. “It was really fun and they’re definitely my kind of people.” He was excited for me. But the worry he’s been carrying around about my transition couldn’t help but expose itself.
“I’m not lonely,” I said. And it was true. There is a great community here. We’ve met people who have been beyond welcoming, helpful, and generous. Parties have been thrown. Weekend getaways have been taken. Cultural trips are on the agenda. I’ve drank lots of wine with lots of people and beer with all the rest. I may not be good at some things but hanging out and finding people to talk to (aka drink wine with me) has never been one of them. So, really, I’m not lonely.
And yet the uncertain cock of Husband’s eye led me to believe he wasn’t convinced. “I’m not,” I assured – my hands in the air showing that I wasn’t hiding anything. “… I’m just…it’s just – nostalgia is my kryptonite.”
It was a clear Aha moment for me – like finding the right bra size and wondering how I’d lived all this time without knowing it. It was a moment of insight. Shocked to learn something so integral about who I was and never realizing it before. Even Husband was stunned at the glaring truth of the assessment.
The overall transition to Mexico has been easier than I expected, far easier than my transition into the Dominican Republic. The culture shock didn’t hit as hard this time around and our house here already feels like home. We learned a lot from our first move which made this move much easier. I’m not lonely in Mexico but the nostalgia of a place I loved lingers. And it lingers heavy.
I miss the beach and how close it was and island sunsets every night. I miss the way the breeze picked up at 6:30 signaling that you’d gotten through the thick of the day. I miss ATVing in Las Terrenas and drinking ’til much too late in Cabarete. I miss the familiar feel of Juan Dolio. We haven’t yet found our Rancho Baiguate – not because there isn’t one but because we haven’t been here long enough to feel that kind of familiarity with a place. I miss having “our” places.
I miss Juan, the fruit guy that gave my kids fist bumps. I miss the amistad of a colmado – not just drinking beers with our friends but the guys that worked there that knew our kids by name. I wonder if these people miss me as much as I miss them? I miss the ridiculous laid back attitude about everything and laws that were suggestions. I miss cold Presidente.
I miss the sound of the neighborhood kids playing in the courtyard downstairs from our apartment and hearing Abuela’s voice calling to them, sneaking them all lollipops right before dinner. I miss having island babies and being an island family.
There wasn’t an aspect of that island that I didn’t love because even the things that annoyed me evolved into things I found amusing. They were things that made up life in the DR. I lived in the Dominican Republic so long that it became a part of me, absurdities and all.
But I’m not lonely without her, I just miss her. And in some way I take comfort in missing her, knowing that missing her so much speaks volumes of the beautiful life we lived together.