Christmas, Californians and 2012

I traveled home for Christmas this year by way of St. Vincent, Puerto Rico, and Boston before landing in Long Beach, CA. When I finally touched down in SoCal I found my mom at the baggage claim desk next to a Jetblue agent in the same almost-tears I had at the airport in San Juan when I realized I’d just missed my connecting flight to New York. So I flew instead through Logan, phone-and-internetless, sending telepathic vibes to my folks that I would be arriving late, and relished every morsel of a cup of New England clam chowder during my 25 minute layover in the Beantown. Seems like Mom and I have got to work on our ESP skills – “Where were you?” she asked looking panicked when I finally walked out of the terminal. I hugged her smiling; she looked at me and asked, “Are you drunk?”… I wasn’t.

The experience of returning home after having been away for an extended period of time is difficult to describe. Certainly there was a grounding sense of warmth and comfort in the security of the friendly and familiar, and amazement in seeing how the children in my family have grown since last seeing them. I returned to my old haunts – yoga studios, sushi bars, and my favorite spa; connecting and reconnecting with family and friends along the way. But I also felt overcome by waves of uncomfortable restlessness as if I had crawled back into a shell I’d outgrown.

A few days after being home I flew up north for my college roommate’s wedding. It wasn’t until then that I really started to reflect on some of my experiences these last 18 months and began to think seriously about my choices once this journey with the Peace Corps culminates in October. When I returned to LA, the pressure of trying to figure out my plans post-PC felt increasingly urgent. Perhaps it was the strangeness of being back on a giant landmass that left me unsettled, or feeling so separate from the sea and nature I’ve grown to love in my life in Vincy. So my mom and I took a day trip to Catalina Island, where we watched a seemingly endless line of dolphins swimming southward from the bayside, and breathed in the fresh air and energy amongst the plants of the island’s botanic gardens and nature reserve.

I returned to the Caribbean before the new year, with my friend Bianca in tow for a visit to SVG. We rang in 2012 on Bequia, and I felt settled with peace as we dipped our toes in the water, grateful for where I’d been and where I was in that moment. The feeling stayed with me as I spent the beginning of the new year with my soul sister sharing the places, friends, and experiences I’ve accumulated here in the West Indies.

As the opportunities begin to emerge I am starting to imagine myself going down different paths once my service is complete, but who’s to say yet what will ultimately unfold. I’ve still got nine more months to relish in this paradise. There is a lot to be unsure about – who I’ll be, where I’m going, and what I’ll do – but for now I’m still a wanderer, seaside in St. Vincent.

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Copyright © 2010-2012 Camille Aragon

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