“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
After a long and sad goodbye to our beautiful lake home in Chicago, we set sail for our new island home in Great Guana Cay, Bahamas. We had some great send offs with our special friends: a night at our neighbor’s the Eamon’s complete with a yummy spaghetti dinner and sunset boat cruise. We laughed, toasted to our new adventure and played with the kids and even did one final cannonball into Diamond Lake. A perfect metaphor as we take the proverbial plunge on our island adventure.
The next day, our friends the Lohrmanns took Wolfi on one last spin on his wakeboard around Diamond Lake. Wolfi loved hanging with his Lake pals Jadon and Tommy as they grilled him with questions like: “Are you going to bring your Xbox?” and “Can you bring your wakeboard?” and my favorite “What are you going to eat if you can’t have Portillo’s?” Wolfi assured the boys that he will still have his toys and won’t starve (he ate his fair share of Portillo’s weeks leading up to leaving for the island. I am surprised he didn’t turn into a chicken tender). When you leave your comfortable American life, questions are aplenty from kids and adults alike. How is your daily life going to be if you don’t have access to the creature comforts of home? Are sure you can do this? We were soon to get a crash course in the first days…
We spent our last night on American soil in Downer’s Grove, Jimbo’s hometown. We spent the afternoon with Jim’s mom, who looked him straight in the eye and told him he was making the right decision. It was exactly what he needed to hear and was a gift from her. Tears flowed as we kissed and hugged her and I thanked her for raising such a honest,loving and competent man. Her response? “Jimmy? He raised himself!” That gave us laughter through our tears which Grace always has been known to do, injecting humor and love in every situation.
Our friends, JT and Brant lovingly hosted us on our last night and gathered all Jimbo’s High School friends and their families to join us for dinner and live music in the park. Funny how life can come full circle… to sit with childhood friends, watching them raising their own families in your hometown is heartwarming and yet surreal. The bonds of lifelong friends run deep and being with these special friends helped ease our transition as they wiped our tears and gave us a soft place to land before we made our traverse. We gathered in a circle with our arms wrapped around each other, in that moment it gave us a sense of security and support. We took a moment to acknowledge that we are family to one another and that they have our backs as we move forward. We have been through a lot together. This group knows all too well, you only live once…you have to make it count.
I don’t think I slept a wink that night. The alarm went off at 3:00 am to alert us to get going for the trip ahead. Our suitcases were busting at the seams, filled with all the things we could carry to start our new life. I don’t think there was one cubic inch left in each bag. With red swollen eyes, and strong coffee we made our way to O’hare International airport. Upon arriving at the ticket counter, the attendant promptly informs us that Wolfi and I cannot board the airplane unless we have a round trip ticket. What? This is news to us! Apparently, you cannot enter into another country without proof that you plan to return. How much does a return ticket cost at the ticket counter an hour before your flight departs you may ask? That’ll be $1000 per person please. UGH! We definitely did not factor that into our moving budget. Guess we need a plan B next time. This begins our fun day of travel.
Minutes before boarding our first flight, Wolfi comes down with a raging case of diarrhea at the airport. I think the stress of the move caught up to him. He asked, “Why do we get diarrhea, Mom?” I told him sometimes the body knows how to get rid of the bad things inside of it. Sometimes, even in forms of sadness, stress and anxiety. Your body knows exactly how to flush you out. Luckily, a pack of Altoids were handy and my trusty essential oils kit. With no major blow outs in the plane, we made it through the first leg okay. Those little hiccups were no problem, Mon, we are headed to the islands after all…
After a quick stop at the Marsh Harbour grocery and a lunch at the Blue Hole, we boarded the ferry to head to our new home Great Guana Cay. Traveling over the Sea of Abaco, a million emotions rise up. This move up until this point was like being adrift on the ocean. Lots of crests and troughs in emotions. But you’re never really alone. We had lots of lifeboats in our friends who helped to make sure we don’t drown in the sea of anxiety. They encouraged us and built us up to tell us and encourage us to move forward. We will always remember those who were there for us and buoyed our hopes and dreams.
We landed on Guana Cay. It is so awesome to see the friendly smiles on the travelers and locals alike. People work in a harmonious rhythm here, unloading the ferry, climbing into their golf carts, greeting friends and family as they arrive at the dock. You look at the candy colored cottages of the island juxtaposed against the turquoise waters of the Abaco Sea and listen the lilting chatter of the locals and you want to pinch yourself. Could this paradise really be our new home?
No sooner did we climb into our new mode of transport, the trusty golf cart, the skies opened up and rain came down like a deluge. You can’t see out of your windshield as there are no windshield wipers on a golf cart and you just have to giggle the whole way as you get fully drenched by the rain shower. I felt as if I was getting baptized into our new life. The rain was the perfect antidote to wash away our sorrows of leaving our home. It washed us clean, so that we can start fresh. We can create a whole new way of living. With patience, compassion, humility and hope… we were about to be reborn.