Island Time

The winter scenery from campus.

It was such a beautiful day today. Like yesterday, and every other day before that, it was warm, around mid-80′s, partly cloudy, blue sky. The trees are greener than ever and the flowers are in full bloom. As I walked around in shorts and a t-shirt, I could feel the warm breeze against my skin. I thought to myself, if I were to wake up tomorrow not remembering where I was or what day it is, I would have never guessed that it is the end of November. Nothing has changed since I arrived to this island in August, and it seems like nothing will really change in the months to come.

Staying in St. Maarten, I feel like I have lost my sense of time. I grew up in Georgia, a place where time never passes without letting you know. It’s a place where the summers are hot and humid, in the low to mid 90′s, and the mosquitos never give up buzzing around your ears. Then within a few weeks of time in October, the leaves start changing from green to yellow to red, as if they were signalling the summer days to stop, like traffic lights. Then the leaves fall and the ground becomes invisible. You wake up one morning to find your windshield frosted, and you scramble to look for the ice picker you haven’t used since last year. Within a matter of weeks, you know the winter is again taking over, and you find a conclusion to your summer months.  Another chapter has ended. Then you start preparing for a new year. By December, you look out the window, and it looks and feels so different from the summer months that seem so long ago.

Today in St. Maarten, I look out the window, I still see what I saw when I first stepped onto this island, as if it were yesterday. As far as I know, summer is not over yet. The past seven months ever since I last waved good-bye to UGA has been one big summer break for me. A lot has happened, but I feel like it hasn’t. I still find myself waiting for the leaves to fall and the frost to come before I feel like I can go home. That’s how it has always been for me, and that’s what I’ve always known. I keep waiting but it never comes.

So now, I’m a little stunned and confused after realizing the semester is almost over and I will be going home in three weeks. I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say the Caribbean runs on “island time.” Without the seasons, mother nature’s ticking clock, there’s no adjustments to make, no changing of wardrobe, no demarcation of a cycle, no anticipation of an end.  Without change, time is constant, and when time is constant, I feel that I’ve got all the time in the world ahead of me. That’s island time.