I was out diving the other day with a very nice man named Jerry. Jerry is from Atlanta, Georgia and apart from being a great diver, he is an avid underwater photographer. He loves taking his time with diving, going where he wants to, and in consequence he doesn’t like to have to wait around for other divers, or have other divers wait for him. So, whenever he dives (which is his only real hobby, he tells me) he always gets a private charter. So, Chris and I had just finished diving with Jerry on his private charter when we came back for lunch.
Stuart was helping us with the equipment and he said to me, “You have to be at the dive shop at 12:30, it is very important.”
Yikes…! I didn’t like the sound of that. “Why?”
“You have to meet someone there.” he replies.
“Who?” I asked, Stuart. “I don’t know.” he says with a smirk.
Hmmmm, this wasn’t giving me a very good feeling.
“Stuart, you are just a bundle of information, aren’t you? If it is really important then you must know something!”
“No.” Again with that smile. “I am just the messenger, I don’t have any other information. Ask Mike.”
So, Mike arrived and I asked him the same question. “I’m not allowed to tell you.” He said. He wasn’t really smiling, I think he could see the worry in my face.
You see, I was thinking that maybe it was the gendarmes, or some kind of control (we get those from the French Government), well, there were lots of things going through my head, non of which were encouraging.
Michelle asked Mike a very helpful question, “Well, should Sally make herself look pretty?” I had just gotten off the boat, so I was looking a bit like a washed up mermaid. “Maybe, a little.” Mike said. This made me more nervous, the first line of attack if there is any kind of French Control is to make yourself look pretty, this is “Running a business in France 101.”
So, at 12:25 I marched to the shop, my hair up in a bun, looking a bit more presentable. Chris came with me. He was obviously in-the-know.
As we approached the dive shop I saw a bunch of people outside. They looked like tourists, with the canvas bags and the hats. They were all about retirement age, and as we got closer I started to recognize them. Images started to flash behind my eyes of desks, index cards, a large brick building, a cafeteria, someone standing in front of a chalk board.
No…. It couldn’t be…
There, in front of me was not one, not two, but three of my high school teachers! You can be sure that I did not wake up that morning thinking that I would see Madame TenEyck (9th – 12th grade French Teacher), Ms. Kennedy (9th grade Biology Teacher) and Mr. Lish (12th grade Physics).
Some of you may think that this is doubly strange because you read my blog from the other day when I mentioned that Madame TenEyck was the best French Teacher ever. I only wrote that blog about 10 days ago, and then all of a sudden Madame TenEyck is there at my doorstep.
Here we all are together with Ms. Kennedy on my right, Mr. Lish on my left and Madame TenEyck on my far left.
So, the story goes that Madame TenEyck was in our home town, just visiting for the night, and she received a Christmas Letter from my Uncle Clay. Uncle Clay was also one of Madame TenEyck’s students. My Uncle Clay is so great about keeping in contact with people! So, in his Christmas letter he wrote that he went to visit his niece in St. Martin, who has a scuba diving center there. Madame TenEyck just so happened to be going on a cruise, with Ms Kennedy and Mr Lish and also some other friends and family, and that cruise was stopping in St. Martin, so they thought that they would surprise me. Well, surprise me they did!
We went for a lovely lunch together. It was so lucky that I was free. So here, I should thank Jerry’s friends, who were also visiting on a cruise and the reason that Jerry only wanted to dive that morning and not that afternoon, leaving me the afternoon to catch up with my high school teachers.
It isn’t that easy, though, to catch up on 11.5 years in just a few hours. We did our best. I told the whole story about how I met Chris, all the places that we have been, how I got into scuba diving in the first place. We talked about the challenges of running a business here, the economy, etc. I filled them in with gossip about some of my other friends from High School, and I also got to hear about some of my other teachers. Apparently they all hang out together! That shows what a great bunch of people they were, and are.
It was such a great feeling to see them all again. To see them as an adult, not as a student. These were people who always believed in me, made me confident in myself and that I could achieve anything that I wanted in life. I was a bit of an over achiever in high school… captain of the track team, president of the student faculty congress, high school honor society etc. etc. Madame TenEyck and Mr. Lish wrote college references for me, and Ms. Kennedy inspired me to study science at university. They had such high expectations for me, and that was great. Having them see me now, seeing where I live and what I do, was a bit intimidating. What if they think that I haven’t lived up to their expectations? What if they think I am just a “dive bum” living in the Caribbean? But that wasn’t the case at all. They were still proud of me, for what we have achieved here. They kept saying how wonderful it was, and what a great way of life we have. This made me feel all mushy, and happy.
I mean, it’s not that I ever regret where I am, but I did grow up with pretty high expectations for me, and it worries me sometimes that perhaps I haven’t fulfilled those. Hearing these people, who I respected and admired so much in high school, tell me how wonderful they think it is that Chris and I are down here as owners of Octopus Diving really meant the world to me.
I was really blessed in high school with some amazing teachers, and I can’t thank them enough for visiting me and taking the time to spend a few hours catching up. I hope that this is only the beginning.
(Sally wrote this blog 🙂 )