Storm and I were sitting on my bed, ripping little pieces of paper and tossing them into a hat. On those pieces of paper were written the names of islands and countries that would define the next years of our life. Out of the hat we picked out three names: Hawaii, Mexico, and Guam; it didn’t take us long to rule out the first two and pick the U.S Territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
It was time for a change after graduation and it’s easy to postpone travel plans until ‘the right time’, continually putting traveling off because of a good job or because family needs you. While they are all valid reasons, the truth is that there is no ‘right time’. The stars won’t magically align at night to let you know right now is the time to go. Decisions have to be made and of course, it’s not always easy. Fear is usually what stops people; fear of taking a chance and the bad ‘what-ifs’. There’s no guarantee that things will go perfectly, most often, they actually don’t go as planned. Some of the bad ‘what-ifs’ you thought about may actually even come true, but along with those, come a plethora of what ifs that you would have never dreamed of; that’s what makes traveling worth it.
Anyway, Storm and I saved up money for a few months before buying our one way tickets to Guam. All of our family and friends were so shocked when we announced our big news, but extremely supportive the whole way. You have to be pretty crazy to leave everything behind, your job, friends, family, home, etc, to move to a foreign island, foreign culture, with someone you’ve only been dating for 8 months. Everything happened so quickly and unexpectedly. I had just come out of a 3 year relationship with someone who wanted to be married, while I just wanted to see the world, so naturally, I wanted nothing to do with ever being in one ever again. Except life is life & nothing ever goes the way you plan.
Storm and I met through mutual friends and I was instantly blown away. He was charming, and he knew it, but I wasn’t going to let him see that. There was an unexplained feeling between us every time we saw each other, like firecrackers in a box waiting to explode. I was adamant about our relationship being strictly sexual, since I just came out of one and was not interested in another. He was completely alright with it and it wasn’t long before we let the firecrackers loose. He was fearless, a free spirit, and so ALIVE, much like myself. It wasn’t long before I was skipping class to be in his arms all day with the excuse of amazing sex. Truth is, we had both fallen deeply in love with each other, and we knew it. Soon after we said those words to each other, it was like the sky lit up with the fireworks of 1,000 4th of Julys.
Things just fell into place with each other like a sign of perfect timing. He moved into my place because his room-mates had failed him with rent. I was always at work or school and he was always working his two jobs, including a graveyard shift, so we hardly ever saw each other. On weekends we would go hiking with our newly adopted pup, Prince and spend it exploring. One day we were hiking and came up on this tough spot where I couldn’t get up. First he took Prince up; he was so athletic so he was up with no problem and then he extended his arm down to me. Of course, I was extremely hesitant and didn’t accept. If he for whatever reason let me go, I was gonna hit the rocky bottom, HARD. I don’t consider myself overweight but of course, like most girls, I’m self-conscious about my weight and didn’t want to feel bad about it. Storm didn’t let it go so easily though, he insisted I try to the point it almost made me upset, but in the end, I took his hand and he lifted me with ease. Not a single struggle or sign of difficulties in his face; that was the day I trusted him more than any man I’d ever known. He pushed me beyond my limits, and let me tell you, I am STUBBORN as hell, but he never gave up on me. Our relationship grew and with it the love we had for each other. I guess it really is true what people say about love: ”when you know, you know’, and I knew that Storm was nothing like anything I’d ever experienced.
Fast forward to August and it was time for us to make the move. I was so ready to leave and jump into the world, so I surprised myself when we got on the highway and tears rolled down my cheeks as my college town disappeared in the rear view mirror. It was a long 8 hour drive with the past 5 years of my life and Prince all cramped in the back of my car. It was nostalgic to leave behind the comfort of town where I was successful, however I was never scared to embark on this new journey, not once did fear cross my mind; it was always excitement and ambition. Although, in retrospect, I should have been more fearful of what was to come on Guam. If someone would have told me , I would have never gotten on that airplane.
The flight was the longest I’d ever endured and by the time we reached Guam, my legs were numb. From the minute we stepped off the airplane, it’s like the trip here was cursed. Storm was pulled aside by customs and interrogated in a room for what seemed like hours. He had a closed case from his high school case that apparently has not been dealt with appropriately. Luckily, he didn’t get deported, or else I would have been on my own. We had rented an Airbnb for the first week then planned to find a place to rent out for the rest of our stay. Our hosts were waiting at the terminal, with tired, annoyed faces.
The Housing situation: Our first week was great; snorkeling, clear blue beaches, sight-seeing, sunsets, etc. When it came down to find a house, it was not so great. We didn’t realize how large of a military community there was, and what a lack of real estate regulations there were. The majority of housing was priced for military members’ budgets, so let me tell you, $2,000 was NOT in our budget. The other half of the housing market was for Section 8, so we were extremely limited on options. Just as we were nearing the end of our stay at the bnb, someone reached out to us through social media to work in exchange for a home. With no other options, we accepted the place and Storm took charge of the manual labor. He was truly doing everything he could to keep the landlord happy, despite the obnoxious demands from him. Let me tell you the place was falling apart, the owner was a racist asshole, and the ‘work’ was backbreaking, some of it should have been done by professionals, not Storm. It was just a way to have cheap labor in exchange for a very small price. Eventually we had to move again because the landlord was becoming more and more demanding and intrusive to the point he as calling Storm’s job to tell them he was ‘quitting’. Storm and I moved three more times before getting lucky in the village of Sinajana.
The relationship: It had been 4 months; what we agreed to staying, but both of us had decided to make something out of all the hardships we had experienced. The broken down home, the broken down car, and the broken down ‘us’. Truth is Guam was very expensive and we were not ready for it, but we both badly wanted to accomplish something while being here. I decided to become a scuba instructor because my manager said it was good money (later I learned she made money off me for that). All I wanted to do was make enough money to go back home. Storm and I had both asked our family for money at one point and he was the one financially helping me through the Scuba instructor course. All the while things at home were getting worse. We argued all the time, I was getting more depressed by the week, and our relationship was failing. The fights began as a silent treatment, then to yelling and shouting, to verbally abusive, and eventually a bit physical. We were purposefully trying to hurt each other by locking each other out of the rooms, moving out, breaking up then making up, etc. It was downright toxic, yet he was still all I had. This continued on for a year; each week escalating a bit more than the last.
The incident: By April I was already conducting classes and was making money quickly. I had put it all away for a December vacation for Storm and I. Even though we fought, we always made up and had each others’ backs. Our make ups felt like no matter what life threw at us, we would always ride the waves together. I wanted him to meet my family in Mexico because I knew they would love him and so I saved up enough to buy us both tickets. Unfortunately, my desperation to get out of Guam led me to commit a mistake at the dive shop that changed my path for the next year. The owner was a greedy, privileged man who belittled his wife and had a pack of people who kissed his ass in fear of being fired. I thought some of the people working there were good people, they had helped me in times of need but when I this incident took place, they all turned their backs on me and refused to even ask what happened. Everyone I thought of as a friend was gone and I was scared to go out in public. Everyone wanted to know what happened, but none, except for two people asked how I was doing. Again, Storm was the only one I could turn to. Eventually I had to get a new job and the scandal subsided, but the court cases and the fights at home continued. I had no friends or family to turn to, just Storm, who swore he was there for me. Why did I still feel so alone?
The final straw: I got sent to jail for a few days and then the judge let me go until my trial date. Everyday was harder than the next, and eventually I cracked. One day Storm and I started arguing; things began escalating as usual, but this time it was different. He said some pretty hurtful things about my family and myself that I could never forget, in turn I retaliated with hurtful things about how he was doing exactly what his culture was stereotyped for. Except he wouldn’t stop as much as I begged him to. He didn’t just want to hurt me, it felt like he wanted to completely destroy me. He kicked me out of the house and began throwing my clothes everywhere: out the window, into the street, the driveway…I slapped him and he shoved me to the ground and that’s when I called the police. I didn’t know how to stop his rage rampage and I was scared for myself. Even when they arrived, I couldn’t stop sobbing, and he couldn’t stop his anger. He told the police he wanted me out, but I had nowhere to go. Storm had an his uncle B on island, he could crash there for a few days, but he wouldn’t budge. It was only one hour until I had to be at work, so I grabbed what I could and went to work. In the days that followed, I had never felt more alone or scared in my life. Some days I stayed up all night at the beach with some co workers and my dog since I had nowhere to go. Others, I was so tired, I snuck into the house and into the spare room just to get some rest. I asked Storm for some time so I could find a place to live but it was so damn hard and expensive here. He said I could stay as long as I needed to but deep down I knew that no amount of ‘sorrys’ were going to change anything. If I didn’t put a stop to it now, he would continue walking all over me. One of my co-workers gave up his room for me, and his family welcome Prince and I in. Every night I cried myself to sleep and one week later, on my birthday, all I wanted to do was get lost in the waves and let the ocean take me, but I knew that would be a selfish move. It took seven months and five different couches/inflatable mattresses to finally find a place to call home until I was free to leave this rock.