Since 2009, I have spent approximately 1/12 of each year in Belize. Normally a fraction like 1/12 wouldn’t seem like a very large amount. And I tell myself that each year as I prepare for the journey. I am a natural home-body. Up until 2009, I lived in St. Louis for all but 18 weeks of my life when I completed clinical rotations in Cincinnati and Indianapolis (I know, 2 other large Midwestern cities really don’t count as a big stretch). Given the option of going out or staying in, I will most likely pick staying in. So it is rather striking that at the age of 39, I decided that I could live in a completely different environment for one month. Those who know me best may still be scratching their heads.
I would not change, shorten, or alter any of my time in Belize. But this year as I reach the half-way point to this trip, it struck me what I missed this year and past years. I have not been in the US for the 4th of July since 2008. This holiday always reinforced for me how fortunate I was to be a woman in America and all the rights and privileges that entails.
I miss the best part of the outdoor concert season in the city. Those are always lovely evenings with friends and food when a good conversation makes it irrelevant if you cannot hear the music.
I miss the All-Star Game. This now includes 2 that took place in the State of Missouri. It will be another 100 years before that happens again. I also miss some of the hottest days at the ball park watching my beloved Cardinals.
I miss the “relaxed” time in my office when faculty actually have some time to step back, assess, organize, and recharge for the next academic year.
I miss the St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church Annual Auction. It is a great time for fellowship and laughter. While I’m in Belize the St. Peter Claver Parish and the Novitiate Nazareth are my spiritual homes, but St. Matt’s is never far from my mind.
I miss some of the biggest movie releases of the year. By the time I get home, everyone has seen them and I’m faced with waiting for home release dates. This does not compare to the stark difference of leaving the hot climate of St. Louis for a freezing cold theater to relax for just a few hours.
I miss running errands on Sunday with Stephen, trips to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, catching up with friends, spontaneous bar-b-ques, fresh corn on the cob, and those lazy summer evenings when any temperature below 90 is a relief.
One of the hardest parts is I miss my sister Debbie and my sister-in-law Carrie’s birthdays each year. In the past I’ve been prepared with cards and gifts ready for distribution by my mother. This year my preparation was hindered by sick cats, last minute work tasks, and the fatigue of being another year older myself. Even when I am prepared, this isn’t really enough to let them know how much they mean to me and how much I want to wish them happy birthday at least by phone.
One-twelfth of a year is not nearly enough time to spend at Hillside, and yet spending even this much time means I run at a frenetic pace the remaining 11/12 of the year to catch-up on my St. Louis life and prepare for a return to Punta Gorda.
I can’t give up either part of the year. In the end, my brain, my body, my heart will always be split 50/50.