Normalcy. We are all trying to gain some sense of it to help us get through the day-to-day struggles. Our office officially opened in mid October, which means I’m back to work. It has given me a measure of normalcy, but trying to catch up from over six weeks of missed work has been overwhelming.
Our post offices have also expanded service and opened a few previously closed locations. We’ve got mail (although it takes 3+ weeks to arrive)! All of our grocery stores are open, except for those destroyed by Irma or Maria, and many more bars and restaurants are serving patrons. Thankfully, we can now fully enjoy those bars and restaurants, as our curfew has been lifted! For those who don’t know, we had been under curfew for about 2 months following the storms. At first it began around 4:00 PM and it gradually lessened to 7:00, 9:00, 11:00, and was finally lifted. We no longer feel like children who aren’t allowed out past dinner time.
The most dramatic and uplifting sign of our return to normalcy is the return of vegetation. The islands are no longer brown. They are green and speckled with splashes of orange, pink, and yellow from the flowering trees. I’ve caught myself slowing down or stopping to admire a newly flowered flamboyant tree and I can’t help but smile. Our paradise has returned.
Several weeks ago, over 70 St. Thomians boated to Jost Van Dyke to help the battered (and forgotten) island rebuild. More on that experience here. After we tirelessly worked in the heat, we were treated to lunch at Hendo’s Hideout and Soggy Dollar’s famous painkillers. While White Bay didn’t look the same, it felt the same. Easy-going, carefree, and beautiful. Friends enjoying cold beverages on one of the most stunning beaches in the world. We exchanged hurricane stories, laughed, and for a moment, we forgot about how drastically different our lives have become. On the way back, fueled with rum and good music, we danced and let the ocean spray wash our cares away. It was the first day I’ve felt my life is “normal” — however that is now defined — since September 6.