Any attempt to articulate an end to this project/research/summer/lesson/leg stretch at this point feels a little meaningless – it’s not over by a long shot – but my time abroad is up. There’s a presentation, poster, maybe a conference and article somewhere on the horizon, but it’s a long way off; past voluptuous Bahamian clouds battering their eyelashes at the setting sun, over a baking Miami and miles of America (dry, green, mountainous, leveled) to Portland. The sea is racing to meet my horizon presently, and tomorrow I’ll get moving too.
Amelia and I are in Nassau, our month in Abaco over, and I fly from Nassau tomorrow at 7 AM (4:30 AM wake up eyo) to Miami, LAX, and, thank god, Portland. To friends, to work, to a new apartment, to thesis, to commitment. I’ve made a commitment to The Bahamas, too, and it’s my responsibility to not let go of it. My summer was more than practicing ethnographic methods. To put it straight: I read over 12,000 pages of Bahamas Handbook in the National Archives, assisted on interviews in Nassau and Abaco, I attended workshops on ethnographic methods and coral conservation, only made my boss iced tea once (I was happy to do so), SCUBA dived, ran, swam, waded through mangroves in my underwear, hiked up, hiked down, slept through the first half of a rain storm in a hammock on a mail boat, signed, worked up annotated bibliographies on New Urbanist developments, debated postcolonial theory when I am pretty significantly under-qualified to do so and cried like a baby, researched our site histories, bugged a guy in the Lands & Survey Department – there’s more. I think, I hope, I was worth the funding.
But there was more than the technical to this project – at least, ethnography is living/requires living and that takes time/mind/nous/heart. To live and make connections and do so consciously, to understand place. Then there’s the writing, the scheduling, finding/making frameworks, living with the responsibility to question and acting on it, &c. I do look forward to being able to wholly manage (let’s face it: fetishistically micro-manage) my own schedule. Soon, soon, soon. Most importantly I was reminded human generosity can have, in heart and/or home, when this strange girl drops into their lives and pokes around and, fumbling, cares – Monique, Bryan, Margot, thank you. To have worked abroad briefly, I owe my family and friends for tolerating Skypes or dreamings of adventures I’ve had to delay.
To Amelia, I owe too much. Research must have been a little clunkier with an undergrad suctioned to her side, but this summer – what it’s done for how I think or think I can think – was something only she could provide, and she didn’t have to. Female mentorship can be hard to find but I’ve gotten lucky over the years, it seems (to the women in my life who work so hard and live so well and taught me different ways to be well, thank you again).
That was yesterday. So, here I sit in Miami-Dade underestimating the physical impact of Cuban food yet again, saying goodbye to the Bahamas for now – but not to this blog. Still more to say, still more life to be lived. Posts will be fewer and further apart, but I hope to keep up thinking critically about the anthropocene, tourism, New Urbanist projects, The Bahamas, sustainability – OMG there are 20 full-grown men in boy scout suits in this airport wait who are you – yeah, this blog is far from finished. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made” – thank you for your time, you crooked folk, with all your turns and twist and tumult. Follow me at @reediemeyers for more photos of the day-to-day (I posted frequently) and stay tuned! Love, Rennie