Is "Gardening Leave" the same as being "Put Out to Pasture"? If it is, should we be worried? Or happy?
Four years, three months ago, Curtis and I moved to Trinidad from Indonesia. Seven years before that we'd moved to Indonesia from Houston.
The day after April Fool's Day, loaded down with 6 suitcases, 2 carry-ons and lots of memories--especially of our dear Trini friends--Curtis and I boarded a plane bound for New York, and whatever comes after. . .
Why we were New York and not Houston or somewhere else Bound?
Several years ago, while my Creativity Group (or the GGs as we called ourselves) was working through The Passion Test, I came to the realization that I wanted-needed-a base, a home, a nest of our own.
So, we went searching for that nest and finally found one in a seaside village of Westhampton Beach on Long Island. It met all our requirements--the requirements of late mid-life: Withing 2 hours of an International Airport; good doctors, hospital, within walking/biking distance to all the necessities.
We proceeded to make the nest our own
And then, little more ours . . .
Fast forward three years. . .
We knew this day would come. Curtis's Trinidad & Tobago Work Permit expired on March 31t. We'd been planning for it. Working toward it. We thought our builder was too...
This morning, as we were meeting with the electrician to decide where we should position the lights, outlets, switches, cables and wires needed to complete this reno, with detritus from our six suitcases & 4 carry-ons scattered throughout our crowded "nest" Curtis got the call we'd been expecting. As of today, Curtis is officially on "Gardening Leave," whatever that means...
Am I nervous? Excited? Scared? A little worries? Sure am!
Here's one thing I've learned these 4 years in Trinidad:
Trini hearts must beat with the rhythm of the steel pan. I'm sure of it when I see Trini's move and when I hear them speak. Sentences blend and bounce, ending with a upturn, a lilt. I try to recreate the accent but mine comes out sounding leprechaun.
Even courtesy greeting to passerbys dance. No quick, curt "Hi," or nod of the head. Joggers sweating and puffing their way up steep Lady Chancellor hill this past Saturday morning sang out, "Mornin' Mornin'" "G'day! G'day!" just as they had every other day. Morning greetings, regardless the age of the speaker, come twice.
Curious about the origin of this charming greeting custom, I'd looked it up when we first came to Trinidad. I recall something about how the custom stems from back when servants manners better be above reproach. (Although when I searched just now for that reference, I couldn't find it.)
I asked a Trini friend about the two-call greeting and she said she recalled her grandmother saying it was about not risking being considered rude. "Trinidad is a small community," she explained. "If you're not related to someone, you know someone who is. If it ever got back to our family that we hadn't been polite, hadn't greeted someone properly, we'd catch the devil. Better to say it twice and be sure to be heard."
Knowing this charming custom grew out of fear--fear of losing one's position or risking punishment--a "Better safe than sorry," mentality, should, I suppose, make me enjoy it less. On the contrary. I think there's something to this idea that if one has something important enough to say once, we should make sure it's heard. And if that means saying it twice, sing out!
So now, today, with Gardening Leave (and whatever it entails) about to begin, we're taking a cue from our Trini Friends: We're Ready! We're Ready!
"Gardening Leave" Playlist
- All In The Family Theme sung by Archie and Edith Bunker
- Thanks for the Memories sung by Bob Hope & Shirley Ross
- We Ready For D Road (Carnival Song)