I can only speak to the beauty of friendship and building community from the perspective of a single traveler. Many years ago, I moved to Ireland with my then boyfriend, a return to the place where he went to university and to his social community. I was on my own a lot by nature of him being in medical school. Years before that, I transferred on my own with work to London and was handed an instant ex-pat community. From these experiences, I knew it would be important for me to build a community here in Barbados, where I moved last November.
A piece of advice that I would give anyone settling away from home for any period: follow your interests and make time outside of work for them. As at home, sports are my community and my sanity. In Barbados, this continued to be yoga, and I threw in surfing as a new interest. Familiarity, seeing people over and over, sets the groundwork for friendships to be built upon.
Many believe that living in a transitory place is a detriment. For me, it fuels my desire to meet new people and speaks to my wanderlust. The pandemic created a draw to Barbados, to take advantage of the working remote visas and as a sunny haven against extensive lockdowns at home. Moving during a pandemic is not for the faint of heart and these people have tended to be adventurers – these are my people; this is my community; this is my tribe.
I said the name over a couple of times and then it hit me, and I exclaimed, “I know exactly who you are!” Not only do I know who this couple is, I attended their wedding over 20 years ago with a friend who also worked for the firm. You know how couples put out a picture of themselves and have their wedding guests sign…check out this picture…that is my signature. Erin sent it to me and said it hangs in their hallway.
Lois, the mother of my life-long friend Anita, has the same maiden name as Erin and is from the general area. I text Anita to ask if they were related. This is Anita’s reply:
My Mom gave me the details on Erin about a week into your adventure. I figured it was a little early to say, “Hey you should meet up with…” I had to write down what Lois told me because I’m not closely related. I think our parents are cousins.
Maybe this is a coincidence and does not mean anything, just a cool travel story. I think it is proof that no matter how much you plan, the universe has certain things in store for you. I could not have orchestrated this if I had tried, and trust me, I have spent a lot of time and effort making things happen. I have denied that much of what I was trying to make happen was clearly beyond my control.
I was not even going to go surfing that morning. My friends at Freights Bay, where I usually surf, said the water was flat, but a surfboard was already strapped to the top of the car and I had woken up early. I figured, might as well go to Drill Hall and see what happens. The waves were rough, and I was having a really hard time catching anything. I had seen Darren there before and he was kind enough to give me some pointers; kindness towards beginners can be an oddity at Drill Hall.
Murray, my Dad, would have known Erin’s father from high school; although, my father passed away years before I met Erin and Darren. I debated sharing this in the post, but my mother told me that she had asked Murray to watch over me. “He may have been waiting in Barbados all along since it was the last of our family holidays,” she wrote.
It might be coincidence that I went to Drill Hall Monday morning, but does it matter if it ended with someone showing me some kindness and reconnecting with people from home, especially after a weekend that I said goodbye to friends? We can call it a coincidence, and the interaction still feels like someone is looking out for me. I think that someone is the universe. It might even be my Dad.