I turn the air conditioning on. Then I get cold and turn it off. I open the back door. It’s humid. My mosquito bites itch. I go upstairs. The Internet says I can treat the bites with toothpaste. I don’t try it.
I read Austin Clarke to try and get a feel for Barbados. The book is absorbing, but ends up mostly being set in Toronto–in winter. I go back downstairs and look longingly at the rum smoothie sitting in the fridge. I resist the urge to day-drink alone.
I’m sitting in the villa and waiting for Ryan.
As a kid I’d tell my mom I wanted to be able to ride my bike anywhere on my own. She’d ask me where I wanted to go and I could never answer.
I wanted to ride my bike down Pine Street, through Beavis Terrace and down the bridge on Armstrong. I wanted to ride up to the agricultural school. I wanted to ride to Tracy’s house, on the highway to Quebec. I wanted to visit my cousins on the other side of town and play hide-and-seek. I wanted to eat cookies with Grandmere. I wanted to go to the beach with the best playground in town.
I didn’t want to start with a destination in mind though. I longed for the freedom of being alone and making all of the choices.
So it’s been a surprise to me that I’ve mostly stayed inside this week. I want to see all of Barbados, but I want to see it with Ryan. I’m waiting for him at the villa.
My adult life has been all about doing things on my own. I went away to school far away from my family and close friends. I moved to another country. I moved to Ottawa. When my parents made suggestions about my life choices, I ignored them. When well-meaning friends told me to “get my life together” I stopped keeping in touch.
In each place, I wandered in museums, parks and malls alone. I ate out by myself. Then I met new friends and shared life-changing moments within days, weeks or months of meeting them. I learned you can have deep friendship with or without years of history together.
I have wonderful memories. But always choosing the path alone means you have good stories with few corroborators.
No one else in my day-to-day life knows who Rick McGhie is. No one hates Le Kimchi for not serving galbi the way they did in Arts Centre. No one has watched me have a freak out in a monkey forest. No one knows how friendships can be cemented by large, blue balloons that don’t fit in taxis. No one has drunk a sojito in The Park. For the most part, no one knows why I’d avoid any bar called Amigos.
So I sit in the pool. I do reading for my master’s. I write notes. I watch geckos. I make more coffee and sandwiches.
It was supposed to rain but it’s a beautiful day. I can see the sun just beyond the red leaves. For the first time, I want to make my choices with someone.
I wait for Ryan at the villa.