They were a different sort of people from the ones I knew, but that was a good thing. However, it took some time to realize they were different, they were good because for some time I thought their outside hid the trolls and ogres, swamp monsters and demons lurking on the inside. Despite their gestures- the constant invites to a house with a cavernous backyard often used as a parking lot when the driveway was full, the effort to make space in the dining hall, and the offer of a couch to use as a bed even when my own apartment was a short drive away- I hesitated to accept, afraid it was a cruel trick that would unravel with one hard pull of the thread.
Still, I came around, going to their wild parties or sitting with them as we ate pizza, played games, and watched weird documentaries.
” Thank God I missed out on the sock porn experience. Sometimes it’s for the best that you aren’t always available to hang out.”
They snort, a stream of chocolate milk rushing down their chin. ” Duly noted.”
At some point I became so accustomed to the consistently, to constantly coming to their door, that I didn’t notice the gradual shift, the absorption into a group in which comfort was so palpable there was no need to speak words. Months could go by in silence but once it was broken it was like there was no time separating us. Yes, I discovered I was on the fringe, almost knocking at the door and begging to be let it but thankfully I was. No person or group can be perfect, just good enough to not stand at the window and watch the person outside, their hair soaking wet from a tumultuous downpour, bang on the door, waiting for it to open. These people, collectively known as the Infamous 214, gracefully kept the door ajar, allowing me to step in.
Of course when the Infamous 214 gathered for a trip across the Atlantic to the Bahamas, there was no way I was going to pass up the chance. Unfortunately, work, in which I would later learn I rushed back for nothing, kept me from galavanting the island for more than three days. Whatever time I was given, however, I was thankful to have and made sure to enjoy each sand that dropped from the hourglass, whether it was witnessing the Infamous 214 skinny dip in the pool or walk fifteen minutes down a road weaving through a golf course, laughing and sharing innuendos as we made our way to the white beaches. Caught up in a whirlwind, I didn’t spend enough time seeing what was around me. I didn’t see the ease in which Mr. Batman Cocaine conversed with the taxi driver, learning his story and eventually grabbing his car to use for future use. I didn’t see how open they were to gaining his trust, a trust that would be misplaced when he wouldn’t show up at seven in the morning to take us on a scuba diving expedition. After losing three hundred bucks and my temper, it is always to look into getting a car no matter what.
“Inevitably a disappointment will rise up from the ground and like a gnarled root will trip you up. Or at the very least splinter your foot, making you very uncomfortable until you take it out,” I finish the last of the chicken breast and move on to the mashed potatoes, my stomach filling while simultaneously expanding to make more room. If only I could recall what I had on the island. It was different, with a hint of spice dowsing the air in its aroma, but that was all I knew. I was too caught up to pay attention to the details and its the details that ought to be remembered. ” If you can’t take pictures with a camera,” I murmur to myself, quoting a passage from my favorite book. ” Then you should take pictures with your mind.”
Because I was in good company it didn’t matter what I ate, it didn’t matter that we huddled beneath a straw roof as it rained for the umpteenth time in a single hour, and it didn’t matter that it took an hour to get a cab back to our lovely little villa where the pool waited patiently beneath the moonlight for both naked and half naked bodies to swim again and again. Once again I followed the group like a sheep following its sheppard. Only when a little separation was granted and I was in familiar territory did my mind capture the details and get lost in a world it hadn’t submerged itself fully in.
The day is young But I am not The children laugh But I do not I have spent all my years Laughing and playing and singing And traveling and loving And doing all the things You are suppose to do I sit beneath the willow Empty as a shell I have spent all my years Giving But not keeping anything To keep myself Living
The beach was still and silent; it was the off season so not many tourist crowded the bright white sand and turquoise water. Across the island was a small resort, reserved for those financially capable of spritzing themselves with grandiose luxury. I secretly scoffed with disdain while the Infamous 214 drooled, wanting so desperately to bathe in the enormous hotel with complimentary service and melt away in hands massaging their overworked muscles. I frowned, the difference in style too apparent. Perhaps I didn’t want to know this world afterall.
” Wait a minute,” they interrupt me, pointing an accusatory finger. ” First, you say you forget to capture the details because you are so lost among the Infamous 214, which in fact you didn’t forget you were just focused on capturing them instead. Every trip has a purpose and this one was just being with them, no matter where you were. So the background blended in and the details were in their jokes, their wild ideas and their stories, and in learning who each were as a person. But now your telling me your drifting your camera away, forgetting to capture them and instead be lost capturing what didn’t need to be captured? And now you don’t want to capture that either? Which is it? Are you there for yourself or are you there for others? Or are you not there at all?”
I blush, ashamed of being called out by myself. Yet I cannot help but beam with pride: they are learning. ” You are right. However, why not all? There are moments where you can be absorbed by the people around you and there are moments where you get disappointed, the taste not to your liking. Then there are moments where you need to be by yourself, picking up where you left off and resuming what you normally do. So, having to settle for the bad taste, I resumed what I do best- exploring. Down by an abandoned tire( the amount of trash on the sand, on the street, was astonishing) was a tree, its trunk gnarled and twisted, the branches weaving up and down, waving. Attached was a rope swing so of course I jumped onto it, swinging back and forth, climbing it so my feet were floating in the air, and they watched, talking among themselves, as I momentarily forgot them and remembered the comfort of solitude, of the warm breeze and the soft crashing of the waves. The waves, the waves! How could I forget about the waves? How could I remember only bits and pieces? Well, it’s a strange thing, what pieces stick to us like starfish and what pieces fade like fog. And often these pieces cause us to go back and forth, back and forth, rolling as the wave rolls.”
Up and down, up and down The buoy bobs Neither sinking or floating Only trying to remain In one piece As the storm rages And the sea battles Against a shell ready To break But unwilling To shatter Up and down, up and down The sun rises and sets And the ships come and go Over the horizon without Looking back At the buoy struggling To be seen Over the rise and fall Of the sea
” I don’t understand you. You don’t make sense,” I can see they want to scratch out the postcard and start anew. I place my hand on top of their, holding it still.
” Not everything has to make sense. Sometimes everything is confusing and its okay to be confused. Eventually, with a little time thrown into the stew, all the ingredients will sort themselves out. I was both happy and angry on this trip, a trip which I would do again. I was happy to spend time with people and angry I didn’t have time to explore as much as I wanted. I was happy to swim in the clear blue waves, the water cleansing my body and hugging me. I was angry at the fancy resorts, although I suppose they are there for a reason and fit some people better than others. If I am going to be a hypocrite, I might as well be aware. For instance, I was also angry that I lost three hundred bucks- how luxurious is that of me?- but it dissipated once I started driving the jet ski for the first time- again, luxurious of me.”
“Oh!” their eyes spark with electricity. ” What was that like?”
” It was like flying. Bump, bump, bump, over the waves I went until a good swell lifted me up and the salt and air smacked me in the face. The water was clear, so clear I could see the bottom and wondered if I would be gliding with the manta rays. It happened before, when I was paddleboarding out to sea.. It was both magical and terrifying.”
It took me a minute to regather my land legs after returning the jet ski. I wobbled away, a big goofy smile laminated to my face. Soon I would have to depart, but that didn’t matter. I was spinning, spinning, spinning in a daze that left me faint and speechless. I would be leaving lighthearted and free and wondering when I could do this again, with the Infamous 214.
Before I left the beach, I came across a book stand. It was shoddy, the pieces of wood splintered and ready to crumble at the slightest touch. I cannot pass up the opportunity to search through free books so with delicate fingers I pluck a slender one, its red binding shining in the sun. This particular book was full of short stories written about the bahamas by a local author. A name was scribbled on the inside flap. Who did this book once belong to? What kind of person were they like? More importantly, what kind of stories did they like to read? Finally, I could take away a piece of the Bahamas, a piece that gave me a sliver of their heart.