Installation Shot

About this Conversation

Little Cayman, poem by James Stone Goodman

Kim's blog on Neve Shalom

Joan Lipkin

Kim Mosley

Come in the Room (mouseover)

Little Cayman, British West Indies
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dear Kim:

I was very sad to leave this beautiful island and its beautiful people.

Yesterday, I wrote notes to all of the staff with whom we had had regular contact and put individual cash gifts in an envelope for each of them.

My sister was surprised at how much I spent. Working for a tiny nonprofit, I am always budgeting. My friends are surprised that I get my hair cut at Great Clips. I tell them it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to have style. It is more a question of imagination. And maybe a little hair gel.

It is not so much, I told her. It is like buying a new pair of really nice jeans or a big night out. I would rather do this.

The desk clerk told me that tipping of the restaurant staff was included in the bill but that if people wanted to do something, they usually put cash in an envelope that said housekeeping or kitchen or wait staff and that it was divided among everyone.

I didn't want to do that. It was important to me to recognize everyone as an individual and to personally thank them for their generosity with both a note as well as cash that could be helpful.

When I gave Carmen her envelope, she hugged me and said, “When are you coming back?”

Louie and I sang, Come in the Room, in the dining room over and over until he felt confident that he had the melody down. He said he would sing the song I had taught him at a praise festival in church when he went back to Jamaica to visit his family.

Then he said he had a present for me. He handed me a cd of his favorite gospel songs. He had asked Denvil to burn me a copy.

I felt deeply touched by his present.

Before my cousin left a few days ago, she and my sister talked about their love of diving and how they hoped to take more diving trips together. They said they would like to go to Bonaire, a diving resort off the coast of Venezuela.

I said I would love to go with them but that I also wanted to come back to Little Cayman. That I wanted to see my friends there again.

My cousin laughed and said, “You'll make other friends.”

Her comment made me sad and I didn't respond to it. I find more and more that I don't always want to do what feels like the equivalent of correcting people. I keep trying to figure out ways to let them know how I see things differently without creating more distance.

(Kim: That seems so hard to do because it is very threatening to see someone hearing a different drummer. We don't like to be contradicted because that makes us wrong.

So how do you "be nice and not lose your soul" in the process?)

If I had answered her, I would have said that people are not interchangeable to me. That I felt a connection with some of the people with whom I had talked and that I would want to see them again. That I wanted to know how they were and how things were with their families.

On the plane back to Chicago, they were serving rum punch and jerk chicken. It wasn't as good as Chubby’s but I ate it and drank two glasses of punch. It was a way to extend my trip and to hold onto such a special week.