For the past three weeks, I have spent more consecutive time at home since senior year of high school. I think a lot of people – as they probably should – go to college and don’t ever return home for summer breaks. They discover independence and begin their adulthood, and that is a good thing. While I hope you’ve discovered by now that I am all for a good adventure, I also love Charleston. First there are the people – my family, lifelong best friends, and community at St. Andrews. I learned a while ago that people make any experience, and no one makes it quite like my fellow Charlestonians. We share a unique connection. We understand the true meaning of slow, lowcountry summer days, of jet skiing and kayaking and loving the water. Of salted watermelon, late nights on back porches, and guitars and worship nights. On Friday nights, we dance at Shaggin’ on the Pier. We know what thick humidity feels like, and we just embrace it. We’d rather suntan on the beach or a private dock than at a pool. We know hard work, and we know fun.
I’ve loved falling into a relaxing, yet fairly disciplined summer routine. I pick berries, go for a long run, and have a quiet time most mornings. I head to work at Taco Mamacita for five or six hours. The job is both challenging and rewarding. I mess up less every day, but I still mess up, and it sucks every time. I’m a people pleasing perfectionist, so there’s always a tough part of the shift when I will get really down on myself. I like serving, being busy with a task always ahead of me, and making good tips. I’m trying to focus on praying for people during their meal, but I get distracted a lot. I hate not knowing what alcohol a customer is ordering (“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?), getting orders wrong, not eating a full meal at a normal hour, and when my manager gives me the cold shoulder. At home, I’ve also been helping Mama around the house, running some errands, even writing a few letters or finishing that book I began in March. It turns out home really is where the heart is, and I don’t think my heart ever fully came with me to Roanoke.
So, choosing to come home this summer has been a very good thing. I am not fed up with my family (yet), and I like being able to help around the house where I can. Though I loved being a resident advisor this past year, I think one of the hardest parts was living alone and primarily focusing on myself. It’s not how I work. I’d rather be giving myself away to others, serving their needs. When I first came home, Mama was more overwhelmed and stressed than I had ever seen her. A week before she turned fifty (!), she was working two people’s jobs at Old South, hosting five parties at Sugah Cain in seven days, and trying to maintain her graceful, sweet composure. It wasn’t working. I was glad to be available and helpful. Apparently, she says no one in the Compton Clan identifies things that need to be done and just does them quite like me. It’s in my nature to lend whatever assistance I can, and Mama has been appreciative.
The massive wealth springing from most homes, mine included, in Charleston has been pretty hard for me to reconcile since I returned from Cambodia. Obviously, world wealth distribution is not equal, and while becoming poor does not put Cambodia in a better position, I cannot shake the guilt that the Comptons live quite the life. I went shopping with Mama yesterday and tried on a very cute dress at Almost Pink on Sullivan’s Island.
“How did it work?”
“Oh, it’s flattering, and I like it a lot, but it’s forty dollars.”
“Well, that’s what we’ve been spending on a lot of dresses for Georgia and RoRie. If you really like it, we can get it.”
What?! I can’t swallow that price tag quite as easily. I guess it’s not horrendous, but I still didn’t buy the dress.
We’re pretty down to earth people, but we still have our stuff, and it’s easy to become desensitized to the abundance. But then again, it’s also kind of nice. My phone was being a little persnickety, but basically working just fine. My two year upgrade had arrived, though, and now that both of my sisters have an iPhone 5, I wanted one too. I got it, and I must say, it is a pretty cool gadget; Instagram is my new favorite (my username is jcomp15…follow me!). I maintain the caveat that I still have an aversion to constant technology and social media. Georgia is addicted. Drives me crazy.
There’s also this family vacation we’re going on. To Costa Rica. For two whole weeks. Say what?! My mom has been talking about being ready to go since April. “Mama, I haven’t even gone to Cambodia yet. I can’t begin to think about that trip, but I’m glad we’re going. You need it.” She does, badly. We took off from the Atlanta airport an hour ago, and I don’t feel guilty about this trip…just plain lucky. As a kid, I always wanted to go to Costa Rica, and though I don’t know how to really take advantage of the surfing, I am going to do most everything else. Paddleboard, snorkel, horseback ride, zipline, hike, run, yoga. Most importantly, as long as Georgia puts down the phone, I’m looking forward to exclusive time with the Compton Clan. When we on vacations while I was in high school, I wasn’t old enough to go explore on my own. I felt contained, and I became stir crazy. The sibs knew how to rub me the wrong way. And they would do it intentionally! Do not continue to agitate an already aggravated animal. The results will not be good. The same concept applies when I travel with my family. The idiots. They were fully entertained.
Last summer when we went to Vancouver, the experience was different. I had just gotten through my first year of college and headed straight out to Camp St. Christopher. I was starving for family time, and for the first time, I felt a little like an outsider. In high school I shared a room with Georgia; we were best friends. When I left, the roles shifted. She and Rosa Marie began running cross country and sharing a room together. They became best friends. It was wonderful to be with my family, but I almost felt like I didn’t fit into the puzzle anymore. They had learned to live without me. The puzzle still had a hole, but all of the pieces had shifted and changed connections.
Another year has passed. I have been home, living with and being a true part of the chaos that comes with my crazy family. I fit again, and I just want to spend time with them. The whole reason I chose to come home this summer was because I knew it could very well be the last time we are all living under the same roof; I wanted to mentor my sisters and grow in Christ together. Rosa Marie and I have been able to do so already, but I think these next two weeks are going to be really special. As for our annual summer vacation, we’re older, and I now have the autonomy to go do what I want when we travel together (Ha! Suckas! No more boxing in and annoying your older sister!)
Life is good, and I am one grateful gal to be a part of the Costa Rica bound Compton Clan.