Tomorrow morning Rose and I will grab a Tropic Air flight to the mainland and soon be on our way to England for a family wedding.
In so many ways I am not prepared to leave Ambergris Caye or Belize, not the least of which is that I have neither shoes nor jacket for a proper wedding. Oh, I have khaki slacks which I’ve worn exactly twice over the past five months and several decent button-down Oxfords.
My plan is to find a British equivalent of Goodwill or Marshall’s and grab the first pair of Size 13’s I can find. I imagine blue blazers are so common in England that people just leave them lying around on park benches and at bus stops or hanging from tree limbs with needy people like me in mind.
“Here, this Yank seems naked without a proper blue blazer on. Give him one of our spares, Mildred.”
Or, something like that.
For five months I have worn the same sandals, paired with a rotating wardrobe of three pair of shorts and nine T-shirts. “Smelly yoga shorts and T’s held separately.”
So, the wardrobe thing I can handle. It is the leaving part that is causing me trouble.
Rose, too, apparently.
Sunday night, as we took a walk along the beach, Rose quietly said, “I’m beginning to understand what my friend Gaylynn means about crying every time she gets on a plane to the States.”
It may be difficult to carve out a life here – sometimes — but it is so much harder to leave it behind – even if for just a few weeks.
And here’s something else: As our departure approaches, time is speeding up in a maddeningly out-of-control way. Suddenly there is so much to be done, so much that — oh-my-god-are-you-kidding-me? – we’re making lists. Who makes to-do lists on a tropical island?
Before this past weekend, if I accomplished one or two things a day I was quite chuffed. Now we’re running down lists.
Sure, you laugh. But it is getting complicated.
I’m almost panicking. I mean, for example, when we land at Gatwick one of my first duties will be to drive a vehicle. Worse, I understand it will have the steering wheel on the right and I must drive on the left. Who thinks up thing like that?
Understand that we’ve “driven” nothing more complicated than bicycles for five months.
And roundabouts. We have one here. England, I’m lead to believe, has one for every five citizens with a driver’s license. And traffic travels about them in the wrong direction.
Fear for your safety, England. Be very afraid.
At the top of my list today – after washing the musty clothes, packing, securing the bicycles (from rust, not theft), cleaning out the fridge, firming up our itinerary and confirming our various reservations – is to find a very small and smooth shell on the beach and stick it in my pocket.
I’ve used this technique before, with beach stones and an occasional small piece of driftwood: Find a smooth one and pull it out of your pocket to rub gently until stress oozes out from your fingertips into the stone. I don’t know when beach stones first developed this magical property but that has worked for me for decades. Someday I will show you my collection of previously used beach stones – all thoroughly saturated with old stress.
I keep them for sentimental reasons. And a sense of personal responsibility. When you have filled a stone with your own stress you can’t very well abandon it, can you.
I’ve even loaned especially good stress stones to friends in times of need.
Mostly though, I’ve encouraged people to find their very own stress stone and keep it in a pocket. They seem to work better when they are of your own choosing. Nicely smoothed river stones work just as well, I imagine.
I like to think that if everyone had access to a comforting stress stone (or shell) there would be no need to walk around in the disposable diaper department of Wal-Mart with an assault rifle slung over your ass.
Well, I’d like to think that.
I accomplished two pretty important things yesterday:
- Fixed my favorite pair of eyeglasses, which I broke within 48 hours of moving to Ambergris Caye in February.
- Secured a beach-front, two-bedroom condo for the next 12 months. We’ll move in shortly after we return in August.
I’ll tell you more about No. 2 another time. For now, I’m really happy about the glasses.
They are wireless-framed, as light as a feather and when I wear them I feel like I give off a dangerously intellectual air. You know, the kind of person whom others would seek out for their opinions on serious matters. Mind you, nobody has ever sought out my opinion on matters trivial or serious.
This is just the way these glasses make me feel.
Plus, they are the last pair that I was able to buy under a company health plan BEFORE GETTING SCREWED OVER BY CORPORATE AMERICA! But that is another story for another day, hopefully a cold and rainy one.
The thing is, the delicate gold-strand bridge on these glasses snapped in two.
It first happened last December and a repair shop in the local mall welded them back together in a matter of hours. Being the intellectually inclined and eccentric glasses that they are, when the bridge broke again in February, the glasses chose a fresh spot.
So I took them to some talented island jewelry makers for repair. The answers were mostly variation on “You can’t weld the new break because the heat would melt the first weld.”
This is my new Zen meditation mantra, by the way.
You can’t weld the new break because the heat would melt the first weld.
In some instances, I think it is an important metaphor for something.
So, a month ago, while shopping in Costillo’s Hardware for a bike wrench and a can of WD-40 for bike chains I saw this box of reading glasses on the checkout counter. There was one pair that looked exactly like my gold-stemmed wireless frame glasses. (I think they had a 200+ reading rating which is utterly meaningless to me and superfluous to the story.)
The key takeaway is that they looked exactly like my broken ones – gold, with tiny bolts and nuts to secure the bridge to the glass pieces. Exactly.
Well, for $5.50 BZE they looked like a cheaper knockoff version.
So yesterday, with my trusty Leatherman Wave 160-tools-in-one knife and a little Duco all-purpose cement, I swapped bridges.
No, really, it was that simple. I took off the broken bridge and screwed the good one on, then dabbed some glue on the tiny nuts to keep them in place and …
… back to being dangerously intellectual again.
Plus, I can see! No more scratchy world-view for this guy.
No, I don’t know why it took four months to do a 10-minute repair. Except that this is kind of the island way. You wait until necessity or crisis dictates, then you act. (In this case, my Costco 5-pound replacement glasses are scratched and sand-blasted into frosted uselessness.)
Why am I telling you all this?
Because it is much easier than trying to explain the sadness I am feeling at leaving Ambergris Caye, even if only for a few weeks.
I’ll have to try again later. Meanwhile, please enjoy the images that have absolutely no bearing on this post. I hope they are as distracting for you as they were for me.