as the title of this post suggests, this past week in the virgin islands was exactly what i needed. wow.
it wasn't until the third day of our trip, as i was bounding down the outside steps from our room to the living area on the main deck, that it hit me: i hadn't thought once about home. it was like i'd stepped into some alternate reality in which all that existed was the exact present moment. what's more, any attempt to think about home, school, florida, the outside world, or even our cats proved futile. my mind, my senses, and the fullness of my being seemed able only to comprehend the exact moment in which i found myself. it was a heavenly freedom.
on our first full day in st. thomas, we made the happy discovery of lindquist beach. we also discovered something truly terrific to do that we referred to for the rest of the week simply as floating.
it's simple, really. all you do is blow up a full-body raft, walk into the clear, warm water, and paddle yourself out to the buoy. then, you lay back in the raft, close your eyes, and let the gentle waves rock you back and forth like a baby. with the warm sun on your face and the cool water lapping against the fingertips you drop into the water, you will find the rest of the world falls away. everything has stilled. you wonder, in fact, if anything else in the world but that moment even exists. the weight of every possible concern floats off your shoulders, your chest, your abdomen, and your legs, all the way down to the tips of your toes, and you become simply: weightless.
the eight of us chartered a boat the next day, and we wove our way through many of the u.s. and british virgin islands. our favorite captain for these chartered boat trips, captain raymond, anchored us offshore of some snorkeling caves for a spell, and i enjoyed playing around with my camera [and the a-m-a-z-i-n-g camera one of our friends had brought with him] to practice what i'm learning about digital photography these days.
later that afternoon, we docked at a private island for lunch and enjoyed yummy BBCs [the ultimate island frozen drink] and terrific service by an island woman named susan who told us about some of the famous people she's met in her time of working there. she was really sweet and enjoyed teasing our friend tom by calling him by a totally different name the entire time we were there, as though he were some famous person trying to keep his real identity a fast-held secret. of course, he loved this. he ate it up, really. can't you tell [below] he's the kind of guy who would totally eat that up?
most of the other days, it was beach, beach, and more beach. sapphire beach is a group favorite. it's the beach that inspired tom and cindy to purchase property several years ago, and it is known to host great views both above and below the water. [in other words, it's also a great beach for snorkeling.] even the ducks cannot help but enjoy this place, and can you really blame them?
personally, i enjoyed renting a chair on this beach, plopping down into it, and relaxing the entire time with a really good book that without fail turned into a really good nap.
our trip was earmarked on both ends by two rather bizarre incidents. first, kirk and i spent four hours in the ER on our first night in st. thomas. this was due to some shooting head pain on the back right of my skull that had started the night before we left on our trip and had intensified in duration and frequency by the time we arrived the next day.
that was kinda scary, not only to be in the hospital in a foreign country but also to wonder what the heck was wrong with my head. i felt like someone was taking the sharp, pointy end of a letter opener and jamming it into the back of my skull every 20 minutes . . . then every 10 minutes . . . then every 15-45 seconds, and then, toward the end, kinda pushing and turning that pointy end around in there for a bit. [my apologies for the somewhat graphic description, but this is truly the best way to explain how it felt to be me for those 24 hours.]
after an excruciatingly long and painful four hours in the ER, which included an arm shot and my first-ever CT scan, this mysterious pain was determined to be merely a tension headache for which they prescribed some pretty strong drugs. [note to self on future trips to the islands: take the medication warnings seriously and do not combine these drugs with a BBC drink. otherwise, you will find yourself really loopy and really sleepy on that special chartered boat trip, unable to truly enjoy the lunch on that special private island or snorkel through those special beautiful caves for which we had anchored offshore.]
making for what seemed like a planned bookend to the ER trip on the front end of the trip was a blowout tire on the back end of our trip . . . at midnight . . . on the way home from the airport . . . in a not-so-nice section of downtown orlando . . . when we were already really tired from a full day of travel and wanted only to be home in bed. but thankfully, we felt ourselves protected from true harm again, as we were able to maneuver off the freeway safely, find a well-lit place to park shortly off the ramp, and be serviced by a AAA towtruck driver from the bronx who couldn't have been more pleasant, considerate, and funny. thanks be to God for that!