PRE POST: CURRENT
Source photo courtesy of Y. Alston, 2017
*As of this post, Aruba is officially over, and in the past. My timing was spot on, because as of next week, I will be out for the count. I do not anticipate that I will post during this time. Recovery time for my surgery is around 6 weeks, and my only true goal will be to focus on that only. After surgery, I have major plans, and getting back to 100% is paramount. This recovery time will not be only physical. It will also be an emotional recovery. I plan to take advantage of the quiet time to have real talk with myself, and take stock in my overall well-being. We can call it an, “Iyanla Fix My Life,” moment, or perhaps a longer, “Sabbatical from Life,” to reflect, and look ahead. *
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2016
Saying goodbye has been the hardest thing that I have had to do this year. Saying goodbye has meant the end of many things in 2016. Goodbye to that person who has always been there for me, and loved me unconditionally as the child her of her child. And goodbye to that person that I thought would always be there for me, and that I thought I could build a life, and partnership with. When it is all said and done, goodbye means just that; I will never see you again. Time has forced its hand, and now it was time to say goodbye to the place where I finally found an escape, and a place to find that glimmer of me that I lost along the way. If nothing else, it removed me from everything that reminded me of my goodbyes. This is what I was afraid of. I felt anxious, almost nervous about returning home, making me feel nauseated. I knew I would be dropped right back into what I speedily left behind. With Christmas Eve one day away, I was frightened about the hole I knew would open back in my heart, once this superficial bandage of Aruba is removed. This will be yet another first of firsts, like Thanksgiving. One without these two people I loved. Especially difficult, was knowing that Christmas would be a quiet one since my sister and her family would not be coming down. Even more difficult was that Christmas Eve had been significant to me during my relationship; first time we saw each other again after we met, and the following year, reuniting. But what did it matter now.
The alarm clock buzzed, and I didn’t snooze too much. I needed that extra time out of the bed. I couldn’t properly leave without going to put my feet in the water one last time. I knew I couldn’t. And as always, the last day of vacation always feels, and looks like the best day. I am convinced it is all a conspiracy to add salt to the leaving vacationer’s wound. Thank you beautiful beach, thank you beautiful sky. Thank you for tucking me under your arm, and protecting me from what I left behind. With that, I took one last video of the surf to record the view for prosperity, in case I needed to transport myself there yet again. Hesitantly, I went back to my room to gather myself, and my belongings for the return home. One last peek off the balcony, along with a dummy double check, a look under the bed, and in the bathroom. I sighed as I closed the door for the last time. When I checked out, the desk attendant said this time of year (Christmas - New Years) was the busiest. I asked when did the staff have time with their own family for the holidays. His response was that it wasn’t much time, but they do get holiday pay. Because of the amount of time I had before the shuttle came to pick me up for the airport, I opted to have breakfast at the resort coffee bar right in the lobby. I figured I was going to out with a bang, so I ordered a glass of champagne to go along with my ham and cheese croissant. The bartender asked what the occasion was. I kindly told him, “Just because!” While I was enjoying my last moments eating, an exquisite tiny yellow bird flew onto the bar, and decided to stay for a while. She hopped across the bottles behind the bar. Then she hopped down to the bottom, and eventually, she took a break on the bar top. I wondered if she knew how amazing she was.
Too quickly, the shuttle arrived. I gathered my bag from the lobby, and followed the driver to the bus. I didn’t see anyone else scrambling around. I was the only person on the shuttle to go to the airport because by the looks of it, everyone was coming in for Christmas. The traffic was thick as the driver made a few shortcuts of his own, whizzing through side streets. Since I had the driver’s undivided attention, we chatted it up. I asked if there was a "winter" season here, where the weather was any different. He replied that it was the same practically year round. During the end of the drive, we drove pass the port where loads of people in the hundreds, maybe thousands, were getting off of large cruise ships into the streets. I envied them all. They would be out to sea, and out exploring tropical islands, while I was on my way home to the cold, east coast, and presumed sadness. The idea of going away for Christmas continues to grow.
The airport was bustling, and I thanked my driver as he unloaded my luggage. Getting to the counter took some time, but getting through customs took longer. It is such an involved process. After the initial check-in at the airline gate, you have to go through a turnstile where you scan your passport, followed by standing still for face recognition. People were not paying attention, and tried incorrectly, and unsuccessfully to get through - which meant holding up the lines. An agent had to assist them. There were a few more kiosks, and a few more places to drop your luggage off, only to pick it up one more time, to drop it off. Last, there was the somewhat intimidating interview with the US Customs agent. He was burly, and stern looking. It was my turn to answer the question, “What brought you to Aruba?” or something like that. I replied that I was there on vacation. His next question was along the lines of inquiring if I had traveled by myself, or had I met someone there. Either way, my answer was that I traveled by myself. In my mind, his next response to my traveling solo was a cartoon eye pop out. But that was all in my mind. He seemed halfway satisfied with my response, and I was free to go.
They ask that you get to the airport 3 hours early. That is a long time, but I could see how it would be necessary if you had throngs of people in line. There were a lot of stops, and too many questions for my taste. At the end of this process, I was happily greeted by duty free shopping. For me, this was perfect because I had time to spare, and I still needed souvenirs/Christmas gifts. Before I left for Aruba, I had put absolutely no energy into thinking about Christmas or gifts. I had only focused on how miserable I thought I was going to be, and I was ready to finally take my parents up on the, “You don’t need to buy us gifts,” offer they throw around every year. Since you have already passed the customs maze, any items you purchased in the stores get sent up sealed to a duty free station near the departure gates. When I went to my gate, I collected my purchases, and purchased more stuff, including more aloe for the sunburn I appeared to have (Aruba is known for Aloe). All this shopping, and browsing, and I still had plenty of time to wait to board. I started reading the Oprah magazine that I purchased at the airport on the way here. I was too distracted by watching the people arriving - I was jealous, wishing it could have been me. I was also envious of the writers of the articles in the magazine, and wanted to know what I had to do to have people read my words in ink. I wasn’t as envious about the people writing about their life changing moments, because regardless of how my heart was feeling at the time, I know that I too am on a path that has to have a much better ending, than the beginning.
In the end, I had a fantastic experience for a first time solo trip. I felt empowered knowing that I can navigate this world on my own. The day before in the shower, I came to the conclusion that this solo trip was a metaphor for living the best life. By being the only person to decide the fate of the trip, I realized that this holds true in life - the outcomes and rewards are based on my own doing, and my will in the world. I am the only one responsible; I can make life just as grand, and just as miserable. Whether it is my attitude or response about the events in my life, or how I chose to consider their impact. That is all on me. The women that I met were very encouraging of my “solo trip.” They all stated that it was something that they wished they could have done themselves. I think we all want to know if we can stand alone in the world, even if we are forced to, and if nothing else, I can confirm that I can make it. I will make it, or at least that is what the book my father had given me said. I read almost all of it, but it was hard to concentrate on the exercises for fear that I would get emotional on the beach. That would have been counterintuitive to the relaxing part of healing. There is a lot that I need to learn about myself. At my last therapy appointment, my therapist asked me, “What was making me hurt the most?” I can’t say I had a clear answer. I have cried several times on this trip, with no real, and certain reason why. There is a lot that I still have not been able to get off my mind. The fracture of my heart started with the end of the relationship, and from that event, the thread kept pulling, almost with a full-bodied yank, with the loss of my grandmother. Little would I know that there would still more thread left after to be pulled even after those events. I thought there could be nothing else to take from. It may have been wishful thinking to have this idea that this trip would be close to an emotional cure all. It was not. But it did mend me by reminding me of who I am.
Thousands of feet in the air seated, staring out of the small window, was how I spent the rest of the day. Things were low key, and uneventful. The man sitting next to me smelled of the same heady cologne of my Shakespearean named friend. It is an unassumingly pleasant smell, whose ingredients I cannot determine, but found inexplicably familiar. It disappoints me not to be able to figure out what it is or do a better job describing it. I blame it on not having lived enough, traveled enough, or perhaps loved enough to know. I seriously considered asking him what he was wearing. Landmasses that were unrecognizable to me, stood out below. I had no clue where I was or what we were flying over. The best I could do was take a guess based on my lacking geography knowledge. I wish the pilot had said what we were flying over. I had tons on my mind, and did my best to settle in.
We were in Miami by nightfall. The weather had turned, and I could see the rain falling outside of the window. I had a long enough layover that I had time to browse, and purchase some macanudos I was hoping to share with my sister. I also decided to take the time to treat myself to a mani/pedi. I wanted to continue my self-love fest. Or blow all of my money. This express spa offered massages,manicures and pedicures. I picked a tropical island color with a tropical name, and was amazed at the job that the manicurist was able to accomplish with a moveable setting. While I was in the chair, I overheard another manicurist working on the only other person having a mani/pedi. He was a young guy, talking about his experiences. He said his name was Ralph, and he was from New Jersey, and was an actor that was on the tv show Chicago Fire. I took my time making sure that everything dried. Although I didn’t care about how much I spent on the mani/pedi, I knew I didn’t want to mess it up by getting up prematurely. The last thing to do was to get something to eat near the gate, so I could multi-task- keep an eye on the boarding at the same time. The departure gates were crowded with holiday home goers. On the departure screens blinked every city, state or island you could think with eager travelers waiting to board. Between the side with the gates and the storefronts, there was an informal holiday show, with a handful of people dressed up in bright red shiny costumes. I presumed that the man was supposed to be a Santa Claus type figure. They were dancing to fast paced salsa music. Apparently, I caught the end of the show. But the crowd must of have loved it. There was a lot of clapping and cheering. I also presumed that they were airport employees volunteering to show off their moves.
The flight from Miami to Baltimore was quiet. We flew in under clear skies, and it was already starting to look like Christmas as all the lights twinkled below in the cities and towns. People were probably swiftly getting about town doing last minute shopping, or traveling to friends and loved ones. I may have been the only person in the world that wanted nothing to do with any of it, and was void of Christmas spirit. We landed, and I called to tell my parents where to find me. It was late, and I was feeling a little blue, but I was still grateful to see them, and grateful that they were happy to see me.