Mentally, I returned with a mixed bag of St. John souvenirs. Most are them are happy, unforgettable, illuminating … but a teeny tiny one is sad.
I’ve been building up this pilgrimage, and now that it’s complete, it’s left me a little adrift, so to speak. I’m no shrink, but I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that we made this trip for Sue, and it has passed, just as she has passed. It makes me feel even farther away from her.
Again though, this “teeny tiny sad” is just one souvenir of my trip.
The most useful souvenir
… was my Traveling Parent Manifesto, a collection of learnings and convictions from our first big family trip. I wrote it to hopefully make future vacations smoother and more enjoyable for my family and others. You can read it over on my friend Geraldine’s blog, The Everywhereist. I owed her a guest post. Why? Because she’s awesome.
The most beautiful souvenir
… was this stunning collection of pictures, taken on my new birthday camera from my husband (Olympus Pen E-P3, if you care to know). Feel free to peruse, dream, and admire. Who knows, maybe it will even inspire you to make the trip? If so, read these tips first.
The most welcoming souvenir
… was the population of the island. First of all, it’s small. Really small. Most people know each other. Twice we ran into our house manager, once at the beach and once at a restaurant. Secondly, it’s incredibly laid-back and friendly. Everywhere we went people were quick with a smile, a suggestion, and a kind word. I am sure now that this (the people) was the main reason Sue wanted to retire here. Sitting at a round open-air bar, surrounded by locals and leisure-time sailors, that revelation was particularly strong. It was so easy to picture Sue there, striking up conversation, entertaining, and making friends.
The most comforting souvenir
… was this collection of treasurers I gathered on Hart Bay, where we left some of Sue’s ashes.
Someday I hope to make necklace pendants out of a couple of them for me, Szaba, my sisters-in-law, and a couple of Sue’s friends (who became my friends while preparing for last year’s 3 Day).
Until then, I’ll just keep these lovely reminders on my desk, so Sue’s paradise is always close at hand.
The most enlightening souvenir
…. came from this particular image:
What is the first thing you see?
Ropes? Fence? A stunning coastline?
As I lay in the hammock, this very image before me, my first thought was, “If only these ropes and fence weren’t in the way, this would be a great view.” But then I quickly caught myself. The ropes were there because I was in a hammock, and it was holding me up (rather pleasantly, I might add). The fence was there to give me peace of mind that my toddler wouldn’t tumble down the precipice. Sure, we could have chosen a lower house that wouldn’t have required such a fence, but then we wouldn’t have this view.
So I looked again, and this time I saw the view in its entirety, ropes, fence, and all. There was a lesson there. It reminded of Dan Gilbert’s TED talk on happiness. You make your own view, your own optimism or negativity, your own happiness.
Therefore, I don’t ignore my “teeny tiny sad” souvenir. I wouldn’t have gone to St. John if it hadn’t been for Sue. Her death is the fence through which I see the view. The way she’s inspired me is my hammock, elevating my goals and holding me up as I look toward the horizon.
I know now why Sue loved this place so much. And it fills a puzzle piece in my heart.
Do you have a place that’s particularly meaningful to you? A place that gave you a pure moment of clarity, peace, or direction? Where was it? Will you ever return?