We all went home to dark houses that night. Saba’s Christmas Spirit had tripped the power. Again. Imagine the holiday fervor of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, except an entire island. The phrase “dripping with lights” would not be far from the truth. It is a wonder to behold, and a necessary indulgence.
We were all celebrating the close of another semester of medical school with pizza, french fries, and jello shots at a local grill called Long Haul’s, when the power shut off, island-wide. Knowing things could indeed be much worse, collectively, we laughed, raised our glasses, and kept eating.
After all we’d been through, this was nothing. Darkness doesn’t scare us anymore. In fact, you can see the stars better.
Cars blasting soca music buzzed by, out to cruise the seven miles of concrete road snaking around the island. Neighbors ran out in the streets to gaze at all the stars, fat and bright, like sugar and ink. The owner and staff lit candles, turned up the lanterns, and kept the gas grills hot. I looked around at each person, carrying on. Even in the pitch black, we had so much to be grateful for, like the ability to be outdoors and not be swept away by 180 mph winds and rain. That will forever be a plus in my book.
We knew the routine as we pulled up to our house, the hurricanes had taught us well. The timing of the power outage was not ideal, as we still had a bit of packing to finish up and were hopeful to stream something funny on Netflix before hitting the hay, but you can’t win ‘em all. We were tired and anxious about our international journey home for Christmas as a family of five, two of whom would be riding in our laps (In case you didn’t know, this is super fun and highly recommended). I waited in the car with the kids, while my husband ran inside to light candles and snap glowsticks into bracelets for the kid’s room. They think our “glow in the dark parties” are the best and were actually disappointed when the power came back on shortly after being tucked in. The whirring of a house coming back to life after such darkness and longing still brings me tears, even though this time it was not even two hours.
Gratitude has become so simple.
These are the obsessions that make you a great expat: Flexibility. Persistence. Tenacity. And maybe even a bit of naivety, like I am too dumb to realize I should give up and go home. In fact, most of my life in the Dutch Caribbean feels this way. Yes, I live on a tiny rock in the middle of the ocean, but I have ears; I have eyes, and skin, and a soul that feels the sorrow of the land, the anxiety of the land, the longing for all that has been lost and all that could be.
That ferocious clinging to hope is what makes us insurmountable. There is always, somehow light to be found, waiting for our pluck and wit to step into solutions. This kind of chutzpah is what navigates unexpected upheaval, and catastrophic storms, and raging fires, and hate crimes, and shootings, and terminal illnesses, and earthquakes, and landslides, and the kind of grief that scoops out your guts and flings them into the ocean to slowly drown, with fire and panache. We will not go down silent.
A new year is here, which means fresh chances and re-starts; wild vision casting and “big magic” dreaming, to borrow Elizabeth Gilbert’s terminology. It’s a whole new level, completely blank, a wide pathway for resilience and joy to find their feet.This is when we prune off the parts of ourselves and our lives that aren’t fruitful. Either the work is complete, or it has lost its potential for new growth. And that’s okay.
A new dawn has broken over us, and the good news it brings is staggering: Darkness cannot win!
I AM says He is faithful to bind up wounds and see His work unto completion. The blood of Jesus wakes us up to the freedom, worth, and hope we have as His sons and daughters. No principality of darkness can have a piece of this pie.
We don’t know what 2018 will bring, but we do know what we will bring: our voices, our hearts, and our warrior ways. What better way to confound the enemy than to laugh at his schemes and continue bringing peace on earth? We are strong and will rise again, brighter than before.
Tend the fires, for we will be feeding hope like it is the last magnificent creature on earth.
Kelsi Folsom holds a B.M. in Voice Performance and has traveled all over the world participating in operas, musicals, jazz bands, and choirs. Now a mom to “three under three”, she currently resides in Saba, Dutch Caribbean while her husband attends medical school. When she is not putting on her best Cherubino while changing dirty diapers, you can find her perfecting gluten-free recipes, snorkeling, *gasp* reading, enjoying a nap, or trying to make sense of her life over french press. Kelsi writes here, and is also a regular contributor to the island website Women Who Live On Rocks.