As I walked towards home past the souvenir shops and the small restaurants along the boulevard, I noticed one of the young native island boys. I recognized him from the pier as he is normally there when we return from fishing. I believe the other boys call him Pedro. Upon our return, he never hesitates to ask if we have caught more fish than we need. I have never inquired of him why he asks, because as anyone who has been on the pier can testify, there is never too many fish and there is always a vendor prepared to purchase the lot. When Pedro saw me looking at him, he turned and ran down the alley. What was that all about?
I continued home and arrived around 8:00pm. My wife, Leigh, did not answer when I entered the door and called out to her. I remember way back when she used to greet me at the door and welcome me home. Now it seems that the ever growing and consuming tasks of managing children and home have taken some of the energy that she previously devoted to me. I understand that these tasks require a lot of time, but it would be nice to be met at the door every now and then.
Thinking back on the last few years, it has been quite a blur. When I graduated from high school on the island, my parents felt that I should return to the States and go to college. Neither of them had completed their college education and it was their sincere hope that I would be the first in our family to complete college. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time, but going back and experiencing life on my own sounded like quite the adventure.
I decided to attend the same college in the States chosen by my high school girlfriend of four months. Well that’s not exactly correct; it took me a year at another college before I realized that being around Leigh was vitally important. You see, after a year of loneliness, dispelled only by a few weekend trips to visit her, there was really no choice.
Our relationship intrigued everyone.
We didn’t go to a large high school on the island, but we ran in different circles. She had been a star athlete and quite popular with the well behaved kids. I, on the other hand, spent most of my time in high school trying to approach the popular clique of less than well behaved kids. Perhaps, this quest for fitting in was perpetuated by a lack of attention due to troubles my parents were experiencing as they divorced. Or perhaps, it was just high levels of teenage testosterone, but the crowd chasing a little trouble better suited me.
Our first date, at least that is what I called it, was the initiation of a budding romance. In fact, Leigh describes our courtship to our friends as “I grew on her”, so I’m certain that “budding” is a proper term.
When we completed college, I was head over heels in love with Leigh. I had decided to take a job in Miami, ask her to marry me, have a family, and live happily ever after. She, however, had different ideas. She had found a job in Miami as well, but she wasn’t certain that she was ready to get married, and quite certain that she wasn’t ready to have a family. Being that she is the practical one and usually thinks before she leaps, we were off to Miami, to continue our relationship and to see how our careers prospered before proceeding down the other roads of lifetime commitment and parenthood.
Had the job in Miami suited me, this stalled plan would have been fine for the short term. But, this was not the case. No one in the organization that I joined had a clue as to how to operate a business. Not to mention the fact, that many of the great ideas that I presented went unheard, unimplemented, or stolen by my superiors. So I quit.
Being unemployed and underemployed in the big city did not sit well with me and it certainly did not impress Leigh. It seemed that all of the dreams of grandeur that I had when I left the island were quickly fading. It was at this point, that I had my first encounter with a creeping self-doubt that now is my common visitor. And rather than face it and get it away from me, I bid Leigh farewell, returned to the island, and took my new found friend along.
There are still times that I wish that I had been courageous enough to bid Doubt farewell and stay the course with Leigh. But things ultimately turned around for me on the island, and after about six months, Doubt bid me farewell. For a quite a while, I even believed that he had left for good.
The way things turned around for me is still a mystery. I came back to the island during the hurricane season which is the worst time to find work. My father said that I could stay with him, but I had to pay rent. I don’t know how he expected me to accomplish this since I didn’t have a job, but my father was adamant that these were the terms. He was insistent that I would deal with the realities of my situation and learn the lessons that were to be taught by this experience. So I went to live with my mother.
After about a week of seeking work, my mother offered her opinion that I should go and see Admiral. I still remember her saying, “Admiral has always been a mentor and a friend to you and he will be able to give you sound advice. Maybe the company that he works for can hire you on for a while.”
I was hesitant to go and see Admiral. I felt that of all the people that I had disappointed since I had left college…