There Is No “Goodbye”, Only “Until Death Do Us Part”
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Especially when they coincide with departure day. And especially when that rain is torrential, and lasts for the better part of an hour, a crucial chunk of time when you’re hoping to fit in a final jaunt to Captains Bay.
There is time, however, for a final dash over to Island Harbor and Le Bon Pain to grab a last bounty of pastries for breakfast and sandwiches for the plane ride, and to bid farewell to the lovely and sweet Paulette.
Our plane is scheduled for departure from St. Maarten at 2:35 this afternoon, which in my mind means there’s still time to visit one more beach. See that little road leading over to Rendezvous Bay? Just so I can kiss the beach one last time? So I can throw myself on its shores, and dare anyone to pry me away?
But Mark is having none of it, and I decide I’m not going to push it, after all his indulgences with me over the past week.
We arrive at the ferry terminal in Blowing Point at 11:00, far too early in my mind. It turns out that Mark was right in pushing us to allow so much time, though: the public ferry ride over is smooth, as is the taxi to the airport, but things turn sour after that, and sour quickly.
It would seem we will now be made to pay dearly for these last blissful eleven days. We trudge, along with about eight hundred thousand other travelers, from checkpoint to senseless security checkpoint, up stairs, around corners, and at last through the final checkpoint, to arrive at our gate at 1:55 for our 2:13 boarding call.
We then sit on the tarmac for an hour waiting for clearance for take off. I am wedged in what literally has to be the worst seat on the plane, that one in the far corner at the very, very back of the plane. At least the rest of my family is all seated all together, in the first row after first class. It would appear I in particular am being punished.
It’s 3:15 when we are finally cleared for takeoff. Our fearless captain chooses at this time to inform us we will break from routine, and will be taking off over water due to the fact we are overloaded and might not clear those mountains. Thanks for that information, Captain America, I’m feeling secure now. We are in safe hands!
Over the next three hours the woman seated next to me relays the tale of agony she has just endured when her boyfriend was detained and prevented from joining her on their planned vacation.
My heart goes out to her and all, but right now I just want to curl up and cry. Because it’s suddenly obvious to me that I have once again left my heart on the beaches of Anguilla.
Did you know that if you switch planes in Philadelphia (at least internationally), you have to change terminals? As in: leave one building, enter another, and go through security all over again?
At least I’m seated near my family on the last leg of our journey, so I’ll be near my loved ones when my body recognizes it is missing a crucial organ and just quits.
But somehow it continues, seemingly on autopilot.
My brother-in-law picks us up from the airport, chats with my husband about March Madness until he deposits us back home, which, to all appearances, seems completely unchanged.
How can this be, as my very DNA structure seems irretrievably altered?
The pain is literally physical over the next few weeks, as I gradually lose my tan and the inclination to drive on the left. Luckily the latter is mainly contained to grocery store parking lots, as I’m in too much of a daze to notice otherwise, and would get smashed to utter bits out on the open road.
Eventually, though, as the weeks pass I feel I start to pull the pieces of my life back together. This comes mainly from forbidding myself to check Facebook or TripAdvisor, and from looking at the pictures on my phone.
But then one day in late April when I am working in the backyard, a mosquito bites my ankle. I spray on some bug repellent, and immediately recognize it as the same one we used on Anguilla.
I backslide. Next thing I know, I’m watching a horrid reality dating show by Mark Burnett that was filmed on Anguilla while we were there, in hopes of catching mere glimpses of my beloved island. This is how low I have sunk.
Once again it becomes routine: checking forums on Facebook and TripAdvisor, reading Anguilla-Beaches’ weekly updates, searching for websites and online menus. I graduate to designing itineraries for imaginary trips, then further detailing these imaginary itineraries down to the last half hour. I even design itineraries for friends, and imagine I could do this for a living.
My husband and I host a (fairly) yearly tiki party for our friends and family. We decide this year to make a minor change: instead of tiki, the theme is “Take Me Back To AXA.” We carefully design a menu to accurately reflect the flavors of Anguilla:
create a mockup of Garvey’s Sunshine Shack:
and add all the details we can think of:
It even rains the day of the party, creating an authentic March 2016 Anguilla experience.
But nothing helps. Absolutely nothing. Anguilla is a mighty powerful drug, my friend. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
No, I take it back. One thing does help: returning to Anguilla.
Our new Canadian friend Lynne? She returns in August. For the entire month. One. Whole. Month.
She returns again for a week in February of 2017, this time accompanied once again by Angela and Angela’s mother Karen.
Peter and Paula? They have a trip scheduled for this April to celebrate a milestone birthday. Except they couldn’t wait that long, booked a quickie over New Year’s when Jet Blue suddenly offered extraordinary round trip airfare from Boston.
Other friends from the various forums share similar stories: back in May, but booked a quickie in March (which, due to snowstorms, is prolonged from five to seven days). Another couple who travel regularly in May book an extra trip to take advantage of a promotional rate offered by a new hotel on Shoal Bay East. And so on, and so forth.
Not so us. I pathetically attention to somewhat fill the void by listening to reggae music. One day in late August, while Mark and I are working in our kitchen, a song comes on that reminds me of Bob and Lynda Batson. I decide it’s time to look them up on Facebook.
I am stunned to see postings commemorating Bob’s sudden passing, am heartbroken to think of Lynda without her lifelong dancing partner and love of her life.
She returns in February with her son to scatter some of Bob’s ashes on his favorite beach.
These are only a few of the examples of what may happen to you, once you have contracted Anguilla Fever.
So please, my friend, understand that Anguilla is not just a lighthearted vacation you will take and leave behind in a file of pictures and “nice memories.” You need to recognize that it will become a lifelong habit, and that you will do whatever is within your means to support it. And, if necessary, a few things that may lie outside of your means.
I do not know when my next trip to Anguilla may be, but am currently looking into the going rate for selling plasma.
I will be reunited with my heart, one way or another.