I told my teenager that this is a sign. You can't have more than one bottle tree in such a small place. Are signs pointing to us moving somewhere else come summer?
And as crazy as that seems, I do very much believe in signs and omens. I don't consider myself a superstitious person, but sometimes things just seem like that are meant to be.
The morning after I had my phone interview for a job here in Cuba, one of my favorite Austin radio stations played some Cuban music. I just felt like maybe it was a sign that things were going to fall into place. I was straightforward/honest and several months prior to my interview had told my then-principal that I was interested in DoDDS---and he told me the story of how he had to turn down a job offer in DoDDS Panamá because he was expecting his first child and didn't want to leave the U.S. He totally got how I would leave a seemingly plum-position in the district to go to the unknown. There have been people upon this journey who have surprised me with their connections to people we know and places we have been, and who have made us feel like this is where we are supposed to be.
So for omens and signs. . . maybe, just maybe, the new bottle tree means someone else can take up the torch of weird and strange yard art and eventually we will get out of here and on to somewhere else.
|See my bottle tree in the background? Since this picture was taken, it is now covered with blue bottles.|
It's a Southern thing, and maybe a sign that I'm superstitious after all.
I do want to focus on the positive. Do you want to hear about how hard it is to feel geographically and professionally isolated from the rest of the world? Or how difficult just the most simple life tasks sometime feel here? I go through a process of editing and re-editing, deleting snide and snarky and sarcastic and generally negative comments because I don't want to dwell on that part of our lives. We live in a hardship location, and most will agree, the hardest of hardship locations for all of DoDDs. And I will leave it at that.
The good, the bad, and the ugly aside, life goes on. Thanksgiving is here, even if at 87 degrees outside, it doesn't feel like it. As a fellow DoD teacher says about Thanksgiving overseas, "If you can't be with the one(s) you love, love the one(s) you're with." It is funny but oh-so-true. We are lucky to have met a group of people here that we can depend on for many things. Some of that group has shifted and moved on, and a few more are moving very soon---that's the nature of living on a military base, the transitive nature of people and friends. You find people you can count on in thick-and-thin, and hope that you will run into each other again when you inevitably move to other bases, or you'll find a way to visit when you are on return travel in the summer. This is your surrogate family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays and other life celebrations.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for our GTMO family, including those I shared a meal with for the holiday. I am thankful for a job that allows me to live in parts of the world most Americans never get to visit. I am thankful that I understand that Naval Base Guantánamo Bay is something completely different than the ignorant 24 hour news stations in the US report. I am thankful that our family has lived in a hardship area, and hope the lessons will stick with our children far into the future. I am thankful for the many prayers, blessings, and well wishes of friends and family during our 2+ years here. I am thankful for the amazing group of kids I have met while here---no matter what the circumstances, the bottom line is the business of teaching is not about the district, the principals, or colleagues---it's about the kids, and I absolutely love the group of kids I work with this year. For my friends who are feeling burned out by teaching---try a year with military dependents, and see what a difference your attitude makes. They are the most open-minded, well-traveled, and overall accepting group of kids you will meet anywhere. The fact that our two sons have become part of that community of learners is just another thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family. Love the ones you're with, and remember that somewhere out there is someone who is thinking about you from far away.