Out of Office

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Things impossible to photograph while on vacation in the Caribbean.

  • The surprise of finding green islands outside your morning window after boarding a huge ship in the dark the night before and sleeping for several hours.
  • The act of waiting almost patiently to see a cat’s belly rise with breath as it sleeps away the afternoon heat in a tangle of roots in a tiny park in San Juan.
  • The relief of grasping the handle of your left-behind suitcase less than an hour before the ship is supposed to leave port. (Our amazing hotel, El Convento, drove it to the boat.)
  • Buying angel fish made out of palm fronds from schoolboys at a tiny pier in Saint Lucia. “For my schoolbooks!” they shouted to us. They were on land, we were on a ferry, and they tossed the fish hard enough to reach the boat and then waded into the sea to fetch our floating dollar bills.
  • Snorkeling and snorkeling and snorkeling until the boat people yell for you to come back, it’s time to go, it’s time to drink the rum punch.
  • Thunder and lightening flashing through the balcony doors, figuring out a plan to get life jackets and get to an exit, and then falling back into a sound sleep.
  • A taxi driver serenading you with Alan Jackson songs while driving you through the depressed streets of Antigua on our way to a beach, where we eat curried conch, after being reassured that it’s a sustainable product here. (They might have been lying?) (It tastes like scallops.)
  • Hungry desperation in the eyes of a stray dog.
  • Crunchy salt falling from my eyebrows after a day of swimming and snorkeling in salty water.
  • The sound of a breeze blowing over the top of your bottle of beer on yet another beach, where you eat flying fish for the first time and a salad with remarkable dressing.
  • The recognition that there is no vacation from your middle-aged mom mindset, as all you want to do is cover these mostly naked people on the beach with long sleeves and pants, much like your own swimming costume.
  • Doing a water taste test at bedtime. Yes, different brands of bottled water DO taste different.
  • Reading an email from your youngest boy and deciding maybe emailing isn’t a good idea, because if he is at all like you, email just makes it harder to be apart.
  • Deciding to forego the formal restaurant for dinners of cheese, crackers, fruit, bread, olives, and artichokes eaten in the quiet lounge on the 6th floor of this floating mall.
  • Laughing until you almost pee on the velvet lounge chair at the memory of cleaning up piles of sand from the (tiny) bathroom floor with the help of sanitary napkin envelopes.
  • Traveling with someone who likes to buy jewelry from local vendors who carry their wares in boxes and pouches and approach you on piers and beaches. Finding a bracelet in one of these boxes you know should belong to you and paying the $10 to claim it.
  • Working near a tall window, outside of which is only ocean and sky and the occasional flying fish.
  • Looking so forward to snow, cold, boys, man, home.
  • Returning home in the cold dark to the hugs of those boys and men, which warm me in a way the tropical sun never can.

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