It just changes you. I don’t know whether it’s the brainwashing from years of watching the television commercials showing pristine beaches and sun drenched skies; the happy faced islanders inviting you into their secret, but the moment you arrive at your tropical destination, your eyes soften by the view, and so do your perceptions, your values, your needs. As your blood pressure drops with each gentle wave lapping to shore, you can feel yourself slowing, smiling more easily, melting into your lounge chair.
It is easy. All of a sudden, life is easy. Those urgent issues and obligations that required your attention, the laundry and errands that needed to be done, all disappear on the endless watercolor horizon.
The children in their suits, splashing, running, turn golden – even with the constant gooping on of the sunscreen, and soon you even relax about that. Because they don’t just turn golden from the sun, they shine with health and happiness and pleasure. They are native, they are free, they are perfect. And you see it. You see their perfection in this crazy dream of a place, where you are lazy but energized, sublimely dreamy, yet more keenly awake then you’ve been in months.
You wonder why you don’t take vacations more often? Why vacations aren’t more like real life? Why we can’t somehow meld these easy feelings into our every day. Why this can’t be real life. Because it certainly feels real. It feels vibrant and full. It feels warm and intoxicating. It feels like what life should be, if life were about finding peace in your soul.
But even in a place with service so relaxed you might wind up getting dinner while waiting for your breakfast, the days roll by, and soon you have rinsed your child’s sand covered toes for the last time, and you suck in your last sweet breath of air suffused with nature’s Valium.
The colorful fish disappear with the packed snorkel gear and we see the last lazy chameleon idling across the way. It is a long trip back to real life, our eyes and our brains gradually adjusting to the harsh change of scenery; the long uncomfortable plane ride, the cranky, bickering children. The bright, unnaturally blue waters recede into the background, replaced by grey buildings and technology and people who seem more grey as well.
It is shocking yet familiar and we readily accept what we know. We pull up to our quiet street, which looks altogether different but no less beautiful than where we were, and carry exhausted children to their beds, which they curl into, smiling blissfully, like they’ve been reunited with a lost friend.
Giant bags of laundry and unpacking left for the morning. The time line that was offline is resetting. Things will be done again. But for now, there is sleep and hope for one more night on an island of dreams.