Updated: Nov 18, 2021
I started writing this post from a little hopper plane from San Pedro (home) to Belize City Municipal, to Belize City International, to our final destination of Placencia, Belize. Daniella and I decided to do a last summer staycation of sorts. I chose a destination that would allow Dani to cross off one of her bucket list items which was to ride in a scary small plane and would simultaneously allow me to go back to where it all started for my Dani and me.
I grew up saying, "I never want to get married. I don't want kids!". Just like I'm not a forever-home kind of person, I was never one that had her sights set on what I would call "the white picket fence American dream". This is the dream where you go to college, graduate from that college, get your dream job, find the "ONE" that you will spend the rest of your life with, get married in an epic bridal magazine-style wedding, go on a honeymoon, move in together, buy your first home, get a dog (to practice for the kids), have the number of kids you want (all equally spaced apart), and live happily ever after--until death do you part. I think the issue for me has always been the monotony of that sort of life. Even as a kid, I knew the inevitability of two people getting so tired of their partner's idiosyncratic behaviors...behaviors that both sides of the couple likely found so cute in the early stages of seeking out that American dream. For me, marriage, pets, and kids were going to hinder my Aquarian, independent, gypsy soul.
Yet, despite my adamancy on this topic, I caved. I met Daniella's father when I was only 25 years old. Neither of us were the "white picket fence American dream" dreamers. Our relationship went from 0 to 60 in a hot second. We quickly became best friends and lovers. Neither of us really had dreams of marriage and kids, but society (and marketing) have a way of creating a pressure that can break the strongest of us. In 2004, after 4 years together, we got married. Neither of us were big into the huge wedding that so many "white picket fence American dream" dreamers long for. We wanted to quietly elope while traveling. We may actually have been pioneers in the now common "destination wedding".
While we wanted to go further south, we landed on Central America so that a select few of our friends and family could be there. And, that's when we discovered Belize. We spent a month running around the entire country trying to plan a wedding, but having so much fun doing it. We would go to a bar (ok many bars) with a band and ask, "hey, we are getting married on Saturday, do you want to play at it?". It was during that month of so many fun, unplanned adventures that I fell in love with this country. The anthropologist in me wanted to incorporate elements of Belizean culture, so we had a Garifuna ceremony that involved drumming, singing, dancing, and a special bread. The ceremony was not just about the bride and groom. It was a blessing for all of us. It was calling on all of our Ancestors to bless us in this life, because this life is hard. This blessing had my photographer (and one of my best friends) in tears and not coincidentally in my opinion, dolphins (my favorite animal) made an appearance at the end of the ceremony (at the pier where the wedding ceremony took place). It was absolutely magical. (Photos compliments of Stephanie Terry, one of my best girlfriends forever).
Just like we weren't marriage people, we weren't in any rush to have kids. We didn't even know if we wanted any. However, again, powerful societal and cultural norms got the best of us. We had our baby girl, Daniella in 2009 after many, many fertility treatments. She was and is my miracle.
Yet, as I always predicted when I was that kid that didn't want to get married or have kids, I fell into the inevitable marriage rut. And, before I knew it, Jon and I became two ships passing in the night. When we knew things weren't going well, we did try. But deep down, we both knew...we had it in the air (for 17 years), but we just couldn't land it. And, that's when we knew, as Eric Church said in his song, "it's over when it's over". It happens to the best of us--over 50% according to divorce statistics at least in the US. And, I wonder how much of the remaining 50% are truly happy.
Anyhow, after many tiny plane rides later, Daniella and I spent our staycation in Placencia, the place where her dad and I married. I chose this location because I wanted to go back and walk down that memory lane with my daughter and tell her the story of her dad and me. Just because we aren't together anymore, doesn't mean she shouldn't hear our story, because it's also her story.
We learned on this trip that very much like my marriage, the resort (The Inn at Robert's Grove) where our wedding party stayed and where Dani and I chose to stay for memory lane purposes, has fallen from its grace. And I mean FALLEN! Sort of symbolic, no?
As I've mentioned in other posts, I try not to have regrets in any aspect of my life. My journey with Jon has led to some of the best memories of my life, but most importantly it led me to my true soulmate--my Daniella.
At this point in my life, some of my girlfriends can't understand why I have no interest in dating or can't even imagine when I will be ready or if I'll ever even want to. The reality is that we are born alone and we will die alone. I don't find that to be a depressing thing at all. I actually find it comforting to be at peace with that fact. But that's likely a reflection of my independent nature. What would bother me is if I get to a point where I have to look back on my life and realize that I didn't experience all that life has to offer with the one person in my life that matters most to me and that's not some man. It's my soulmate. It's my beautiful, happy DANIELLA! <3 <3<3
(Photo compliments of my amazing, emerging photographer, Danee, IG @photographee_by_danee and website with pictures for sale coming soon)