The turbulence is terrible. When I would normally be a nervous wreck thinking the plane will break apart, I am numb. The captain made an announcement that in-flight service is suspended for the remainder of the flight. Looks like no Goose-cran to dull myself even more. I pick my 70’s iTunes playlist on my phone, shut my eyes and enjoy the distraction of Crosby, Still & Nash “Southern Cross.”
I dozed off enough that when our plane was rocked with a big bump, I woke disoriented. I was dreaming about Cole’s birthday I am going to miss next week. I wasn’t invited to his 4th birthday and it’s so unfair. I wipe a few tears welling up in my eyes and look out the window. How could they deny me seeing my children, my babies? On every scheduled visitation, there would be some excuse why they were not able to make it. I haven’t seen or heard from my children in months. “I’m sorry, Cole is running a fever today and won’t be able to see you.” “I’m sorry, Luke has an important playdate that can’t be changed, He is looking forward to it.” Or the worst excuse, “Isa, they don’t want to see you.”
My Caribbean destination is in sight. The beautiful aqua waters of Saint John and Saint Thomas look so welcoming. I couldn’t stay in Maine and keep away from little Cole’s birthday. In fact, I had to leave the country and put distance between us so I wouldn’t end up at Cole’s party. I would have been the uninvited and unwanted guest and I most likely would be arrested for wishing my youngest son Happy Birthday. I didn’t want to make a scene. I wanted Cole to have a wonderful day, even if it was without his Mom. I hope he will understand when he asks where I am. I hope the Carpenter Clan can say nice things about me and and hug them if the boys are sad and missing me. But, I know the carpenters. I know they will go out of their way to have me removed from the boys lives and over time, their memories.
I don’t really notice the huge bad bumps as we come in for our landing into STT, Saint Thomas’s airport. Despite the rocky approach the landing was smooth and unremarkable. I gather my things from the overhead compartment and wait my turn to exit the plane. I quickly made it through customs, as all Americans do and I searched for a sign to find a ride to the ferry to take me to Saint John.
Outside and there is a line of happy taxi drivers with taxis that would never pass an inspection in the United States. I walk over to the first in line.
“I’m Sebastian, I can take you where ever you want to go on the island ‘Mamm.”
“I need to get to the Saint John ferry” I try to smile and the warm breezy air feels good on my broken body.
“I will take you ‘Mamm. It is a short ride to Red Hook Ferry”
I trust that he is telling me the truth and I anticipated that the ride was a little bit longer that Sebastian was telling me, but he may not think the ride is that long. He seems like a nice person. Sebastian is very friendly, not what I am used to these days.
Sebastian puts my duffel bags containing almost everything I own, into the back of his van and off we go.
“How are you today? It is a beautiful day here on Saint Thomas! Where are you visiting here from?”
“I’m from Maine.” knowing that I really have no home anymore. I have no home and no family left to be with.
“That is very North. You will enjoy the warm sunshine her ‘Mamm. We welcome many in from the cold!” Sebastian smiles and I’m surprised he knows where Maine is.
I watch out the window as we go by tropical palms and flowers. The scent is nutmeg and it is relaxing. The sun hits the island at a different angle than at home and the change is distracting and nice.
We make our way through the winding, hilly tropical roads to the ferry landing. “Thank you Sebastian. You are a very kind person.” I pay him the fare and a tip, mostly for being the first person in a long time who was genuinely kind to me.
“Enjoy your stay ‘Mamm and you call Sebastian when you need a ride.” He hands me his hand written business card that only says “Sebastian” and a phone number.
I smile, “Of course. Thank you.” Sebastian gets into his van and drives off beeping his horn with a happy beat.
I walk over to the small building to look at the ferry schedule and to buy a ticket for the next boat to St John. “The ferry is due in about 15 minutes. There is time to take that one if you would like.” the woman selling tickets says with a smile.
“I can make it.”
I board the ferry and drop my bags next to my feet at the bow. Leaning against the safety rail I look out across the most beautiful blue sea to see my destination in the distance. This is enough to cheer anyone up no matter how sad and broken they are.
It seems like in no time we dock and I look at the map the travel agent gave me and make my way alone to to my villa. The key is in the Conch shell, how cute. I open the door and there I smile. This is better than I dreamed for $89/night. The kids would love it, and my smile turns into tears welling up in my eyes.
I walk in and put my bags on the chair. On the table is a bowl of local fruit and a nice note from the management company. “Please enjoy yourself and if you need anything at all, please call. Thank you, Sam.”
I look around the small villa with a wooden cathedral ceiling to make it look larger. This is perfect. I dig out my suit and flip flops, lather on the sunscreen and grab a towel. I follow the sandy path a short distance to the beach and a smile come back to my face when the path opens up to a sandy beach. There are lounge chairs on the sand for tenants use and I completely take advantage of them. I set my towel down and kick off my flops and head to the water.
Warmth splashes over my toes. A contrast from the icy cold waves that jab into you from Maine ocean water. My body feels good and warm and happy that I put distance between me and the craziness and lies over the past few months. I miss my babies.
I wade into the sandy bottomed sea until I push myself off and float. The water is crystal clear and when I look down I can see the bottom perfectly. My weightless body feels trim in my new red bikini that I bought for the trip. I have lost a several pounds since this whole ordeal started. Before, I never owned a bikini and now what ever self-conscious ideas I may have from wearing a revealing bikini are gone. Maybe partly because I have lost weight from not being able to eat going through the divorce and custody battle, but because I have no interest in what people think when they look at me, especially men. The last thing I care about in this world rich now is trying to attract a man. I just don’t care about that, all I want to do is feel good again.
Floating seems effortless. The water seems saltier than in Maine and I feel much more buoyant in this warm salty, tranquil, clear water. This is a good thing because I don’t want to work hard at anything right now. I need to recharge and the sun hitting my wet skin is helping do just that.
The sun isn’t overhead anymore. I have been floating for what seems to be a very long time, I have been watching the tiki bar nearby knowing that it will be my destination when I got out of the ocean. The live music started and I can hear a Jimmy Buffet song drifting my way. I don’t want to get too much sun my first day here and the bar looks so nice. I walk out of the water and towel off and wrap the towel around my waist, I gather my things and head over to the thatched roof that shades the bar and the people in it.
The man playing guitar and singing “Margaritaville” smiles when I walk in and sit at in the corner at the end of the bar. Hopefully unnoticeable so I do not have to tell anyone my story and why I came to an island alone.
The bartender comes over with a smile. “What can I get you?” She looks about my age but stress free and life loving.
“Any local specialties? Nothing too sweet.”
“How about a Rum Punch? I make all the juice fresh from local fruit. I don’t like super sweet drinks either, but I love this drink, you can taste the freshness.”
“Sounds good, I’ll try it.”
As she is making my drink I scan the bar, there are probably about 15 people here, including me. Seven couples and me.
“Here you go.” She sets my drink down in front of me. “My name is Sarah. Are you here alone?” Exactly, what I didn’t want to talk about.
“Yes, I’m alone. Long story. I’m Isa.” I smile and take a sip. “This is amazing! Thank you!” It really is good and makes me feel warmer and also allows me to change the subject.
“Are you a guest here at the villas?” Sarah smiles.
“Yes,” I take another sip.”Its very beautiful here.”
“How long are you down for?”
“A month.” I stop the water building up in my eyes when I see a quick vision of Cole and Luke, I take another sip. “I have to figure some things out and what better place to do that than on a warm tropical beach.” I eek out a smile, The emptiness is coming back.
“Well if you get lonely and want a friend, I’m here.” Sarah is still smiling and I get the feeling she sees a lot of people like me, alone and troubled.
“Thanks I may take you up on that. Do I detect a New England accent?” I smile knowing I’m right.
“Yes, Boston” she laughed, “I’m so glad I’m out of there. So much Drama and people trying to take everything from you. I came down about six years ago and never went back.”
“I’m from Maine. Not far from Boston, just over an hour away.”
We continue to talk like we have known each other for years. I’m not sure if we actually have found a kindred spirits in each other or if she is just very good at her job, but it feel nice to talk to someone who is nice, even if it is just superficial, get to know you conversation, its just really nice. Sarah makes me another drink and I order some tropical salad that has grilled shrimp on it, again, another amazing thing.
I am loving this and it is just what I need to gain perspective. I watch the sun go down over the water and listen to the beach music and sip my rum punch and talk and laugh with a nice person. I am feeling like I have made a right decision in coming here.
“Thank you Sarah. I really enjoyed talking with you.”
“See you tomorrow?” She says extending her hand to shake mine.
“I’ll be here!” I turn around and head up the sand path to my villa.
What a great evening. I never though I would say that again in my life. But, It really was a great evening. I open the door to my villa, take a quick shower to rinse off the salt and the sand. I love seeing my tan lines start to form. I’m warm and relaxed from the rum. I just feel good. I put my oversized T-shirt over my head and crawl between the crisp white cotton sheets of my bed and drift off to sleep. I love you sweet boys. Mommy loves you always.
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