“There’s something about summer, isn’t there?”
* * *
You put your head down on the table, simply wishing for the time to go quickly. The boat rises and falls with each wave of the deep sea. In your previous experiences, rides across the deep sea hasn’t exactly been forgiving. Rising to your feet, you stumble with the swaying of the boat to the outside deck and steadily climb the stairs to the top of the ferry.
“How are you feeling?” you ask Tom, your brother who’s standing with a camcorder and a smile on his face.
“Dude, these birds are wild! I’ve been up here watching them this whole time,” he replies.
“All right,” you sigh. “I’ll be downstairs.”
You consider staying up to watch the birds to see what he was talking about, but you just didn’t want to risk the uneasy stomach. After all, you feel the rocking of the boat much more on the upper deck than down below.
So you return to the bottom deck and slide into the booth, aside Peace Corps Volunteers Hannah Melin and Lili Gradilla, with Lili’s extended family of Caroline, Alex, and their baby girl. You put your head back on the table and close your eyes until the ferry reaches the small island of Carriacou.
Roused awake, you gather your backpack and shuffle along the line and out onto the dock. After a short walk past the incessant offers for a taxi service, you settle into the small hotel room you’ve all rented for the day.
Going back outside, your entourage catches a bus that has pulled over at the small terminal next door. Spray-painted a glittering bright orange, you climb inside and take a seat in the back. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, the metal frames pressing through the worn-in cushions and into your backside. What it lacked in comfort, however, it made up in character. Laminated placards were pinned to the seatbacks of the driver and front passenger seats.
Ask me for a joke!
Free rides for the grandmothers of anyone 80 years or above.
Free ride tomorrow.
You laugh to yourself, appreciative of the slapstick humor. The bus kicks into gear and you weave through the open roads of Carriacou. The last small island in the Grenadine chain that runs from St. Vincent to Grenada, its roads and landscape is much more open than that of Grenada’s. Small mountains protrude into the sky, but the valleys between them are more spacious than the rugged, cramped nature of the Grenadian mountains. You weave in and around these small mountains, passing cows and goats idly grazing on the side of the road. Simple homes sporadically spot the hillsides, clothes flowing in the breeze as they hang-dry on the line.
After about fifteen minutes or so, the bus pulls into a dirt lot beside what appears to be a restaurant.
“Well, here we are!” the driver exclaims. “Paradise Beach!”
We pile out of the bus and pay the driver the fee, walking past the restaurant and the few small fishing boats mounted on the shore. You kick off your sandals and step out onto the warm, white sands of Paradise Beach. Jaw-droppingly beautiful, the short, sandy beachhead declines sharply into the most transparent, crystal-clear waters you have ever seen. Outside of a local couple off to the right and a few sailboats out on the water, the beach was void of all human life. To the left, two small mountains reach out from the coast like an arm wrapping around to hold you in. Straight ahead, a small green island rose from the sea while beside it lay a sandbar, palm trees fanning out across it.
Dropping your things in the sand, you dive into the crisp, clear water; it was a truly refreshing reward for the long, early morning ferry ride you had just endured. The day is spent floating aimlessly in the water, getting out only when it was time to grab another drink at the restaurant’s bar.
“Hey man, you want a drink?” Alex offers as you step up to the bar. “I’m chilling with these guys over here, you should join us.”
You only met Alex a couple hours ago, but you already realize he’s the type of guy who’ll make friends with anybody he meets, so naturally you follow him to the nearby table.
Walking up to the table, Alex introduces you to the three local men seated around it. A half-empty bottle of Carriacou Jack rum sits in the center beside a few small bottles of ginger ale. Introductions aside, you’re engulfed into the conversation at hand, ranging from European affairs, Shakespeare, Netflix, and wineries. It wasn’t long, however, until each one of us sat under the umbrella table with them, laughing together with our new-found friends. As it turned out, one of them owns a winery nearby and you’re all invited to dinner.
* * *
You hang onto a pole and the side of the small boat, bouncing rhythmically with the high waves of the sea. Off to the right in the distance is another small fishing boat, a lone man driving it at break-neck speed as it goes airborne over each wave. He nods in acknowledgment when you make eye-contact, the unspoken language among boat-riders. He cuts in front of you a safe distance ahead, crossing over toward Union Island, a large strip of mountainous land rising from the water to your left.
A few smaller islands sit in the distance, rapidly growing larger as we approach them. Although uninhabited, the green strips of land stand proudly, their lush, green trees evident of their untouched beauty. The boat slows to a crawl as you now find yourself in the center of the five small islands that make up the Tobago Cays. The dark blue of the deep sea abruptly turns into a bright, turquoise blue, enabling you to see several feet down to the now-shallow sea floor. As you drift up to a small island, the local tour guide drops an anchor. Jumping off the boat, he tethers it to the base of a palm tree.
Hopping out into the water, a sandy, open beachhead spans out in front of you. Palm trees decorate the shoreline, giving way to the tropical green hillside behind them. Looking out across the horizon, a small island lies straight ahead while several, larger other ones loom in the hazy distance to the left. There’s a shallow sandbar in front of you, its crystal water sparkling and shimmering in the bright sunlight. Overhead, birds soar through the air with a watchful gaze before plunging sharply into the water. It disappears for a moment before coming up and flying away, its fresh catch of fish hanging from its beak. Distracted in awe at nature’s spectacle, a dark mass slides past your feet in the water.
“Look!” you exclaim, taking a sudden step back. “A stingray!”
Amazed, you hadn’t been that close to a stingray since your childhood days visiting the zoo. But right there in front of you, a large stingray was sliding gracefully and blissfully by.
Turning around and heading onto the shore, you and the others decide to hike to the top of the larger of the two hills on the island. Traversing across the beaten path between the two hills, you make your way to the backside of the island. The path gives way to a more rugged and rock-riddled beachhead; unlike the first side that was peacefully tranquil, waves crashed onto this shore. Yet, the water on this side of the island was just as clear, just as beautiful. Various sailboats sit anchored just off the coast, small flags of their home countries fluttering in the wind: Trinidad, France, England, St. Vincent, Grenada, and America. Walking along the beachfront, you find the path that leads to the top of the hill and dives into wood. Taking it and climbing to the top, you find yourself standing on large rocks, weathered and frail trees and shrubs all around you. Atop one of their branches, a large iguana is perched cautiously still.
Scanning the 180-degree view of the horizon, the open sea spans out as far as the eye can see. The dark blue of the deep sea is speckled with pockets of sandbars where the water takes on that striking turquoise color. The very same boats still remain anchored offshore, bobbing in the waves but appearing much smaller than they did before. To the left a sole island sits in the near distance, while off to the right a few larger, yet also uninhabited islands also loom. The group of us gathered at the top silently take in the captivating panoramic view around us.
“Whoa!” Alex exclaims, as a large thud and the sound of sliding rocks catches everyone’s attention. “That iguana nearly landed on my head!”
You break out in laughter with the others as the iguana scrambles into the safety of the foliage.
* * *
Hiking cautiously down the front side of the hill, you return to the first shoreline where the tour boat was anchored. Climbing back inside, the rope is loosened and the anchor is pulled in as the boat takes off into the water. Coasting past one island and then another, it careens over to a stretch of open sea. The deep blue of the Sea now gone, suddenly you found yourself seemingly floating over the sea floor as the water was so clear and transparent, that you can see the sandy surface of the floor no more than twenty feet below. Dropping anchor again, your tour guide pulls out snorkel masks and flippers. Wiggling into the flippers and slapping on the mask, you flip your legs over the edge of the boat and drop into the water.
Submerged in the water, you’re momentarily baffled when your vision remains as clear as before. Just when you think the water can’t get any clearer, any more beautiful, you are once again proven wrong. Lifting your head above the water, you playfully bob up and down just to make sure that what you were seeing was real. Convinced, you turn and swim out to the sea, scanning the sea floor below.
Then, off to the right, a small green leatherback sea turtle coasts through the water. You quickly but cautiously swim toward it, careful not to startle it. The sea turtle gracefully dives to the bottom and you dive down right beside it, unbothered by your presence. Coming back up to the surface, you drift quietly above it, watching it rest peacefully on the floor. Another, larger sea turtle swims by, catching your eye to the left. Your interest taken, you follow after it, swimming within arm’s reach of one of the most beautiful creatures you have ever seen.
* * *
You’re back on the boat, cruising even farther out to sea where a flat, strip of land comes into view. At the end of the narrow-ended strip of the small island of Petit Tabac, stone and coral-built structures stand guard, greeting newcomers to the island. Followed by a stretch of covered land, the island rounds off with a cluster of palm trees standing over an area of tall grass.
“Hey, that looks vaguely familiar,” you think to yourself as the boat slows to a stop and coasts to the shore.
“Here we are,” your tour guide says, “Petit Tabac was a site location of a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.”
Then it clicks. Jumping out and walking on shore, you visual the stranded characters of Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Turner, passing out drunk on the beachhead before a glowing nighttime bonfire. Then come morning, Captain Jack awakens to the smell of smoke as he realizes Elizabeth has burned the remaining rum from the in-ground cellar for a smoke-signal.
Cue the line: “But why is the RUM GONE?!?”
* * *
Back in the boat, you’re cruising through the open sea, bouncing up and down on your seat in the boat. The sun has begun its descent, the sky beginning to leak an orange hue as the sun approaches the horizon. A small building comes into view, idly standing in its lonesome on the sea between two large islands. The boat slows down as we circle around the tiny building on the water and dock beside it.
“Welcome to Happy Island,” the man at the open-sea bar greets with a toothy grin. “Rum punch is our special today and every day; would you like one?”
You take a seat under the lone tree on this random, special bit of land. An almost mythical place, the bar known as “Happy Island” is built on conch shells, with barely enough space for a few benches and picnic tables for seating. A flag pole stands on the end, the flags of St. Vincent and Grenada flapping in the sea breeze. You sit back and take a sip of your rum punch, a DJ creatively singing freestyle soca on the small speaker system attached to the bar. You look over to Union Island, the sun casting its vibrant glow between its peaks.
* * *
A player in a pale green jersey dribbles the ball from the back corner of the pitch at the far end of the field, launching it with a sharp pass toward midfield. A yellow jersey, however, jumps between and intercepts the ball. He kicks the ball back toward the end of the field, where another yellow jersey navigates it between two defenders and hurdles it past the sliding goalie and into the back of the net.
The crowd erupts in displeasure, the goal occurring just eleven minutes into the game. Jamaica, otherwise known as the “Reggae Boys,” just took a 1-0 lead over Grenada’s “Spice Boys,” in a FIFA-sanctioned international friendly match at Kirani James National Stadium.
This is your second FIFA match, joined this time with Tom, PCVs Stephanie Peña and Amanda Cady, and fellow Camp GLOW counselor Khadija Browne. You found prime seating for the match, in the front row on the far right side of the field. To your immediate left is Grenada’s 15U girls football team, donning their jerseys and medals from a regional Caribbean competition they had recently won. Farther down the row, a man dressed head-to-toe in the bright red, green, and yellow national colors waves a large Grenadian flag as we walks up and down the aisle. From the lower bowl to the upper deck behind you, fans blow horns and shake clappers as they cheer and react to the match unfolding on the field.
“One of you want to compete for a prize?” a man in a black polo with field credentials hanging around his neck asks us.
Everyone in your row exchanges glances, unsure of who would be brave enough to take part in the half-time competition.
“Yeah, sure,” Tom says, jumping up from his seat.
The man directs him down to the field and a short while later, he’s the only foreigner at the end of a long queue of local fans on the field. Each fan took a turn spinning a wheel to determine what prize, if any, they would receive. It was unclear what the various prizes were, but what was clear was not everyone spinning the wheel was receiving one. As each fan took a turn, Tom slowly worked his way to the front. A few fans, having already taken their turn, congregated in front of the wheel and blocked your view. Tom disappears behind them, only to appear a moment later coming around the end, victoriously raising a new soccer ball in his hand.
Laughter breaks out among you, celebrating what would likely be the only victory of the night (Grenada went on to lose 5-1). Tom returns to our seats, tossing the ball to a young fan a few rows back.
* * *
You push the chain-link door open and step onto the court. Walking up to those taking shots at the hoop, you introduce Tom to the guys. You quickly lace up your new shoes and hop up from the bench. Picking up your basketball, you begin dribbling around and taking a few warm-up shots. The clouds over the field adjacent to the park have taken on an orange glow from the setting sun. As per usual though, on the nights you play basketball there isn’t much time to take in the gorgeous colors of the sunset.
Enough guys have gathered to break into three teams. Naturally, you make sure Tom’s not on your team. Attribute it to old sibling rivalries or what have you, regardless you were not going to play together. It worked out, however, as Nose and Alvon, the two brothers that took you to town on J’ouvert morning the week before, were at the court as well. So matching up brother on brother, you guarded Nose while Alvon guarded Tom.
Alvon dribbles back and forth across the top side of the key, Tom sliding back and forth with him. Driving the ball, he dishes it out Immie, a teammate at the top of the key. Immie drives down the left side of the key and heads hard for a lay-up. Coming around the corner, however, he didn’t see Tom, who because he was in the right place at the right time popped the ball loose and stole it away to the top.
A few possessions later Alvon once again has the ball, dribbling to create separation from the defense. On the upper right side of the three point line, you see the baseline has opened up. Darting down toward the open space, Alvon sends a pass on the far side of the hoop. Catching it and realizing a defender was on your immediate right, with a quick dribble you cross under the hoop and flip the ball off the backboard and into the basket.
The night was a prototypical “sweat” as they call it, a few hours of pick-up basketball on a humid Caribbean night. It’s how you often spend your Sunday nights, a reason to get out of the house and into the community, not to mention getting a couple hours of exercise. Having Tom there to play with you and experience your Sunday night “sweats” at the court was one of the things you were most looking forward to in his visit. It didn’t disappoint, either, as the guys welcomed him in with open arms and friendly competition.
* * *
“Just jump out as far as you can toward the middle, and make sure you land straight-in like a pencil,” you call out to Tom.
You sit cautiously on the rock overhang, water rushing heavily over the waterfall right beside you before it launches over thirty feet into the spring below. With no real easy way to stay balanced, you’ve found a notch in the rockface while clinging onto a nearby branch. Tom slides tactfully down to the edge, where a shelf in the overhang allows steady footing for a jump.
Standing slowly, he crouches slightly before leaping out over the water, arms flailing momentarily as he disappears over the edge and a splash is heard from somewhere down below.
“Well,” you mutter to yourself, “I guess you’re next.”
You slide down to the shelf Tom had just jumped from. Trying to peer over the edge, you couldn’t see much beyond the shelf. You take a couple of breaths and envision where you’re jumping, out toward the middle and in front of the falls. You already searched the bottom of the fall earlier for rocks, so landing on rocks wasn’t in question. That doesn’t necessarily, however, make this jump any easier.
“Okay. On the count of the three: One. Two. Three!”
With everything you have, you jump out as far as you can. The air lifted from your lungs in a moment of thrill, followed by a moment of panic as you suddenly realize this jump was from a lot higher than you originally thought. Flailing your arms to regain balance, you splash violently in the water with arms stretched flat, the sensation of a flop instantly burning into your arms and hands as you’re submerged in the cold, icy water.
You pop back up to the surface, laughing and excited despite the rough landing. A pained expression appears on the faces of Tom and PCV Hannah Melin, their reactions to the sound of your crash-land into the water.
“So much for following your own advice,” Tom laughs.
You climb out of the water, its refreshing chill sending goosebumps down your back. Underneath your arms and hands are already pink and swollen from the jump, yet you can’t help but shake your head and laugh.
The three of you gather your things and hike off into the woods. After finally successfully jumping from the first of the Seven Sisters Waterfalls, it was time to hike into the bush to find the fifth waterfall known locally as “Honeymoon Falls.”
Crossing rivers and climbing over rocks, you find yourself facing the fourth waterfall. The fourth one is a small one, water cascading down a small rockface and into a river below. Three logs stand up out of the water, bridging across the narrow creek to the top where the water comes down. You turn to Tom, gesturing the way up.
Straddling the largest of the logs, he shimmies his way up to the top. You follow him up, crawling slowly but doing everything you can to maintain balance and not fall into the river below. Reaching the top, you hike along rockbed adjacent to the rushing water that flows to the fourth waterfall. Coming upon a large boulder on your left, you find a rock slope in front of you with water cascading down it. Stepping into the water, you carefully climb up the streaming rockface and make your way around the boulder to a small clearing on the other side. Gaining balance and standing carefully on the dry rock, another waterfall towers over twenty feet above you. Seemingly falling straight from the canopy of trees above, the water hurdles violently over the top and into a shallow spring before flowing down the slope you just climbed and taking a sharp turn toward the fourth waterfall. A golden orange substance oozes from the rocks surrounding the waterfall, the scent of sulfur filling the air.
All around you is the overwhelming presence of nature, something that has always fascinated you and Tom since your days growing up and exploring the wooded lot behind your house. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when you two spent afternoons watching Bear Grylls scale waterfalls and climb over raging rivers in episodes of Man vs. Wild. Back then, you’d pretend you were doing the same thing back in the wooded lot. Now, years later, you find yourselves jumping thirty feet from tropical waterfalls and climbing over raging rivers as you explore the inner depths of what nature has to offer.
* * *
You’re hiking up the steep, paved road leading up to the first of the Concord Waterfalls. But for the second time this week, rain down-poured from the heavens. You and Tom had tried a few days earlier, but the heavy rains flooded not only the first Concord Waterfall, but the river that’s necessary to cross multiple times in order to reach the second waterfall.
Knowing this was Tom’s last chance at seeing the second Concord Waterfall, a pit sank heavily in your stomach as you trudged uphill through the pouring rain. However, you were determined to reach the second fall, for Tom had always having been more of a cabin-in-the-woods than a cottage-on-the-beach type of person.
A white pick-up truck pulls up from behind as you step to the side of the road. You gesture up the hill for a ride as the driver rolls down the window.
“Hey, you’re the Peace Corps in Gouyave, right?” the driver asks.
“Yeah, I am. Any chance we can get a ride to the falls?”
“I thought I recognized you. I teach at the Anglican school and have seen you around. Hop in the back!”
Relieved, you jump into the bed of the pick-up truck. Tom and Peace Corps Response Volunteers Stephanie Peña, Amanda Cady, and Heather Smith hop in behind you. Once everyone is settled, you tap the bed of the truck and it jerks forward as he drives the rest of the way to the top. The rain is still falling heavily, soaking you through your clothes in the open bed of the pick-up. But you don’t mind, at least you caught a ride the rest of the way up.
The truck pulls to a stop at the first waterfall. The waterfall, typically with beautifully powerful white water cascading down, was now once again overpowered with stampeding, soil-ridden brown water. The spring below, where one would typically bathe in chilly, fresh water was now flooded with the very same brown water that relentlessly filled its basin. Hopping out and thanking the driver, who teaches at the other school in your community, you take shelter in the lone shop overlooking the fall.
“Good morning,” you greet the tour director, who turned you away the other day due to the dangers of the hike to the second fall. “It’s my brother’s last day on the island, I know it’s still raining but is there any chance we can still make it to the second waterfall?”
“If you go back there, I don’t want to have to come retrieve you. I’ve had to go back and save people from the flooding river before,” he explains. “But if you must go today then I’d ask that you take one of our guides. I’d feel a lot better if you did.”
“No problem,” you respond assuredly. “Whatever you want that will get us back there. We’ll take a guide.”
And boy, were you glad you had Sylvester.
Sylvester, your guide, was talkative and excited individual who was knowledgeable in the history of Grenada from its geography and history, to its agriculture. He often stopped to point out the various trees and plants along the trail. Equipped with high-set rain boots and a machete, he fearlessly jumps into the river. In the past you could easily dance and skip across the rocks to the other side, something you had to do numerous times on your way to the second fall. But submitting to the fact that you were already soaked from the rain and that all the rocks you’d normally dance across were entirely submerged in waist-high water, you step in after him. Always planted and secure in the water, you often used Sylvester’s support as you hiked through the river’s running waters. With each step, the current would push your feet downstream, making it a challenge to move in a straight line. Not to mention your feet disappeared in the darkness of the water, so you had to tactfully feel out each step before you took it.
The rain continued falling as you navigated the trail, sliding through the mud, climbing over rocks, and treading through the river. The bush had a different feel that day than from what you’re used to, being the first time you’ve delved into it during heavy rains. The forest seemed void of wildlife, all having taken shelter from the rain. The leaves of the trees took on a shimmering green as the raindrops glistened in the light that managed to poke through the canopy of the trees. Climbing over one rock and jumping to another, you look up to see the top of the waterfall finally appear into view. Crossing over the river and swinging underneath a fallen log, you look up to find the waterfall looming powerfully before you.
Only this time, it was different. Before the water always seemed to rush violently down, but this time it stampeded angrily down the forty feet from the top and into the overflowing spring below. The foliage and trees that typically clung to the cliffside to the left of the fall was cleared away, evidently having fallen in a landslide from the recent rains. It was here, in this moment, the reality of the power that nature holds began to sink in. What once was a tree-and-foliage covered hillside was now only a bare, rocky cliffside, all the trees and foliage strewn carelessly about at the bottom.
* * *
The hike to get to the second waterfall that day was one of the most challenging, treacherous hikes I’ve ever done. But having reached it, having completed the goal of showing Tom the second Concord waterfall on his final day in Grenada, I felt nothing but relief.
In fact, that final hike to the Concord waterfall was largely analogous to my summer as a whole. From start to finish, from when school let out the first week of July to when it began again the first week of September, my calendar was booked straight through. From Camp GLOW, to St. Lucia, to my parents’ visit, to Carnival with friends and a week of exploring Grenada, Carriacou, and the Tobago Cays with Tom, I hardly had a day to catch my breath. In the same way that the rain worked against us that day, it seemed time was always working against me during each week of the summer. There was always someplace to be, something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to look out for with very little time to do it all.
So out of necessity, I once again took time away from my blog. I set everything aside, focusing instead on enjoying every moment with the people that I love, in the place that I have come to love.
Which brings me to the theme of the series of blogs that I’ve come to title: “Something About Summer: A Series.” When trying to capture the essence of what this summer experience has been like for me, it was hard to break it down into separate, unique stories. After all, they were all interconnected in the same foundation. That same foundation, not only epitomizes my summer, but I believe every summer. Therefore, the only way to share this experience was by sharing the story of my summer as a whole.
In the very first post of this series, I set out to ask a re-occuring question: “There’s something about summer, isn’t there?”
Well, have you figured it out?
The answer, actually, is quite simple.
Think about it: summer was never just about the sunshine, the smell of fresh-cut grass, baseball, and burgers on the grill during a 4th of July cook-out. It was never just about the time away from school, running free from the responsibility of homework and studying. It was never just about the hot, sunny days jumping in the lake and the warm, firefly-filled nights roasting marshmallows by a bonfire.
It has always been about much more than that.
It’s about love.
That’s what makes summer so special. It’s a time spent meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones. It’s a time spent with family and the people you hold dear. It’s a time to explore, seeking out tales of adventure to be shared time and time again. It’s a time for trying something new, something so far out of your comfort zone that it scares you. It’s a time for celebration, whether the holiday calls for barbecue ribs and fireworks or dancing in the streets doused in engine oil.
This summer, I was blessed to have my parents, my friends, and my brother all visit me in my host country. At times, the conglomeration of family, old friends, and new friends together here was borderline dizzying. But each individual mentioned in this series experienced in one way or another not only my summer, but what my life is like down here in Grenada.
Yes, they got to experience the beautiful, sunny beaches and the pristine waterfalls under the tropical sun. But more importantly, they experienced the warm, hospitable nature of the Grenadian people. They experienced the noise, hustle, and bustle that comes with living in the center Grenada’s, “City That Never Sleeps.” They experienced the adventurous bus rides that never fail to leave you without a story. They experienced the abundance of fresh fruit, herbs, spices, and chocolate. They experienced the flowing breeze as you hitch-hike in the bed of a pick-up truck. They experienced the intensity and cultural explosion that is Carnival. They experienced the excited children shouting, “Mr. King!” as we passed through the streets in the type of community where everybody knows your name. They experienced firsthand as the locals smile and ask, “How are you liking Grenada?” as though they already know your answer. They experienced Grenada for what it is, and for them and the Grenadian people, I am forever grateful.
As each person came in and out of my life this summer, I tried to approach each opportunity with them with the same amount of energy and love as I had with the ones before. Although exhausting, each part of my summer from Camp GLOW, to St. Lucia, to Carnival, and the various tours of Grenada and surrounding islands with my family and friends is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. This past summer was easily one of the best of my life, which might lead you to think that its conclusion was a difficult one to embrace.
On the contrary, for this summer I learned an important lesson through my whirlwind of experience. In my first post of this series, I recalled a quote I had recently heard when I was at a local funeral. It was a quote Jamie Anderson had once wrote:
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
With all the people that came in and out of my life this summer, I’m not ashamed to say I cried with each goodbye. It was hard, because as with all goodbyes, it means that your time with the people you love has come to an end. But although grief may be love with no place to go, I learned that new people will always be entering your life. During this stretch of time, I had to say goodbye to two people who had become a focal point in my life here. However, I also had the opportunity to welcome in the next group of Volunteers to the island. So between the change in Volunteers on-island and my carousel of visitors this summer, I also learned that as long as you pour the same amount of energy and love into the new people as you did with the ones before, you will continue making memories with people that you love. Therefore, love will always have a place to go.
Yes, my summer is over, but I’m not upset. This summer will forever be locked away in my memory, each experience available to be recalled with as much as fondness as though experiencing it for the first time. But while this incredible journey is over, it’s time to return to the reason I’m here in the first place. I’m back in school and have big goals and ambitions ahead. Time is flying by, as we’re already six weeks into the new school year. I’m excited for what my second year holds in store. For there will be more stories to be told, more experiences to be had, and more love to share.
Until next summer, that is.