Having a child changes everything. Truer words have never been spoken. With the birth of mine, the days of frolicking on the beach without a care in the world were history. Although there was nothing more enjoyable than sunset swims with my daughter, there was a reality to face when we left the beach: we needed a home. For a mere one million dollars, I could have one in Bermuda, but that meant I would become another slave in paradise. As much as I loved the island, that was just not going to happen.
Even if I had a million dollars in my back pocket, there was another issue that struck closer to my heart: Bermuda’s culture was one I could appreciate, but it wasn’t mine. On my travels, I used to describe my fellow Canadians as puppies. We are lively and fun creatures, accepting of all those who grace our shores. I loved growing up in Canada, and as much as I enjoyed travelling the world, I always identified myself with our kinder, gentler nation. More than anything, I wanted my daughter to be one, because there's nothing better than being Canadian.
No disrespect to my island friends, you are wonderful people. However, there was an undercurrent of xenophobia that ran through the island, and that increased with the global recession. There is a saying, “When the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold.” Well, Bermuda got hit with the flu. It went from over employment to unemployment, and that changed the culture of the island dramatically, especially when it came to foreigners. I understood; they watched their friends and family being laid off, foreclosing on mortgages, and applying for financial assistance. Meanwhile, a foreigner remained employed. Bermuda began to experience an exodus of sorts with expats returning home, and locals heading to greener pastures.
Bermuda had changed, and I had changed. My relationship with the hook in my mouth had changed. What had once slid into my cheek effortlessly, and lodged there for many years comfortably, now felt cold, hard, and heavy. I began to understand the warnings I had received from the locals: it’s easy to get lost in the Bermuda Triangle. The beauty of the island is the proverbial worm, but one should be wary of becoming hooked to its attractiveness and charm. There needs to be something deeper, something that fulfills you body, mind, and soul. For me, that was my daughter. And with her future in mind, I sold my belongings, packed my bags, and headed to the airport. I had become unhooked.
Rina Gibbons is the mom of a self-proclaimed 5-year-old “Wild Child” - apparently the apple landed right next to the tree. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is now in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. Having travelled to over 20 countries, she has recently realized Dorothy was right, “There’s no place like home.”