I guess it is finally time to write a closing entry for Sounds of Laughter.
I should have written it the Thursday before leaving, I know. That would have been the 21st of April…and, somehow, it is now September. I had been planning my final entry for over a month. It was to be my masterpiece, a heart-penetrating and soul-inspiring summation of everything Dominica taught me (comprehensive, yet concise). It would synthesize everything I learned, laughed over, struggled with, and was dazzled by during those 18 months in the Carib Territory. I would weep as I wrote it (and my readers would weep as they read it), and when it was done–of course I would wrap it all up with the perfectly selected quote or poem–we would all feel a sense of beautiful completion. A bittersweet yet tremendously gratifying closing of the chapter.
That didn’t happen, did it?
I could list all the different attempts I made (I must’ve constructed well over a dozen opening paragraphs), but a conclusion eluded me. Perhaps I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task; perhaps I worried that I didn’t, in the end, learn anything at all (and that an attempt to synthesize my learnings would publicly reveal the lack thereof); perhaps I was so focused on the next chapter that I couldn’t properly tend to the one that was closing. Mostly, though, it was just too hard. My heart rebelled against the idea, and refused to provide a single adequate word.
So now it is September. Four and a half months have elapsed since my last entry–and within those months everything has changed…outwardly, at least. Luke and I got married. We moved to Queens, New York (could any place on earth be less like Gaulette River, I wonder?). And I began work as a first-grade Special Education teacher. School began the second Thursday in September…and by 9am, I was ready to quit. I wanted nothing more than to be back in Dominica (with Luke, this time, of course), sitting under a coconut tree and listening to crash of the waves. And for the first time in over four months, I opened “Sounds of Laughter.”
I was curious, in particular, about what I’d written exactly one year ago–the entry of the second Thursday in September, 2010. “Everything was so easy then,” I thought, and expected to find a story of rollicking laughter, abundant victories, and fresh papaya for breakfast. Instead, I found this. September 9, 2010: “The changing of seasons, the shedding of tears,” written at what was probably the lowest, most despairing point of my service in Dominica. As I read, the memory of that day came flowing back to me. While sitting under that romanticized coconut tree, listening to the crash of the waves, I wanted to be anywhere but there. I felt defeated, miserable, and inadequate. Exactly as I felt on the first day of school this past Thursday.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I read over that entry. Dominica wasn’t easy! Nothing worthwhile in life is! But what made it infinitely easier was the opportunity, every Thursday, to write about my struggles. To know that there were people out there, even if only a handful, who read my stories, and laughed along with me, and cried along with me, and reached out through cyberspace and held my hand. To each one of you: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much you helped me.
Like my experience in the Carib Territory, this year will also not be easy. But if I learned only one thing from Dominica, it is that laughter is an ever present balm…and when we find it, and share it, it can sustain us. Thus, beloved friends and family, I am going to endeavor to find the laughter this year, and share it with you. My new blog will be called “Now We Are Six” (title explained in the “about” section, which I haven’t exactly written yet, but I plan to!). The address is nowweare6.wordpress.com, and the hope is to post an entry every Sunday.
I would like to add that Roushy is back in Dominica this week, having returned exactly one year after she left. Much has come full circle. The guavas will be in season there now, and the precious children of the Carib Territory will be braiding their hair, ironing their pleated skirts or navy blue trousers, and going Back to School.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn,
and a time to dance…
The secret is that every day a new world is born.