I had just spent a whole year single after a devastating break-up. My job came through with a bonus at the end of the year, so I was going to travel. The Bahamas became my destination. Beautiful beaches, 80 degree weather, sunshine, and beautiful people with rich accents would fill my vision and my world for a few days. Travel by cruise ship was my choice. As we are stuck in our various hometowns due to COVID right now, it does me some good to look back on these memories.
It didn’t take long to decide who I would take. There was no one I really wanted to go with me, no girls-gone-wild trip for me, and I wasn’t convinced I’d want to meet a man on a cruise ship. This vacation was for ME. I didn’t want to leave my ten-year-old son with my ex-husband, though, so I took him with me. He was such a great kid for a ten-year-old. I did not regret my choice.
Being the only adult in my partner, I got to make the decisions on where we would go, what tours we would take. It all worked out! I kept track of my charge, planned our tours and agenda, and still had fun. We took a tour of Queen Mary’s steps, a flamingo farm, and other lovely sites. Then, we took time to enjoy a beach a little bit away from the tourist hotels.
I paid for a cab which was more like a mini-van that could hold several people. We found our beach that was riddled with gnarled trees, white sand, and coconut trees. We sat, waded in the water, he swam, and I just wanted to relax on my towel. Looking back, I feel as though I forgot to worry about a thing in the world, except keeping an eye on my son; but he was keeping track of where I was and did not want to wander either. I was home base. I don’t remember us arguing about a single thing on that trip.
After a while, a woman is walking by and says to me, “Do you want’cha hair braided?”
“How much?” I ask.
“Six dollars per braid.”
“How about the whole head, just across the front?”
I pulled the cash out of my pocket and said, “Okay.” I explained to my son that I could not turn my head, and he HAD to stay in my sight. He did. He sat and gathered some coconuts. She began to braid. We talked about my son, her family, where I was from, and I forgot to worry about her fingers in my hair. I forgot to worry about people I don’t know walking up to me.
A man came up with a box. “Coconut and rum! Two dollars.” I forked out the money and forgot to worry about drinking something from a box carried by a man on the beach. It was tasty. I forked out more money and I don’t know how many I had, but nothing too crazy.
My son started going a little further and gathering more coconuts, adding in what I drank from. I bought him his own coconut (minus the rum) to enjoy the coconut milk. He kept gathering more and when he had gone a little too far, came back when I called. I explained that he had to stay safe and I couldn’t get right up. When she finished my hair, I looked like a blonde Caribbean girl, or just like me trying to look Caribbean? It was cute, anyhow. 🙂
As it got closer to evening than afternoon, we had to walk back to find another cab. No problem. We got into a cab that was full of young guys having a party time. Oh great, I thought. They were a little noisy, but I joined in as they started singing old Motown hits. It was so fun, and my son just looked at me and laughed. I can still picture the look on his face.
The next day, we woke up on the cruise ship and went to the pool. I just took in the sunshine and the breeze. I was a little hungover. He sat there quietly. When he went in the pool, he told me where he was going. I kept my eyes open, still relaxed, and soon, our dinner table partners, a woman with her grandson, came up and said hi, so my son had someone to play with in the pool. He had a ball, and I sat there and relaxed.
It was a buffer time between a bad break-up and my son’s angst-riddled, terrible teens. But this vacation served to show me there are rewards when you just let yourself do WHAT YOU WANT to do. It also gave me a focus to look back on when those teen years happened, to remind me that, yes, my son really is a good person, and we can get along quite well. Sometimes, making time for my son has been an important act of self-love.