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"The cure for anything is salt-water: sweat, tears or the sea."
~Isak Dinesen

Four days.  That is how long it took me to shed my "mainland mindset".  It happened in one particular moment,  the breeze sweeping in from the sea in through the car window as we were returning from market in Marigot.  I could take a full breath without feeling the ever-present stress underneath it.  I felt light as a feather, giddy even, hopeful, profoundly relaxed.  I had forgotten what that feeling was.  It took me four days to "detox" and I was as irritable ridding my system of "mainland" as I have ever been ridding it of a substance.

St. Maarten was the island of choice for this trip (the only island of choice moving forward).   West Indies Island that is French and Dutch (because why choose?).  Far enough south to be deliciously warm and tropical and European enough to allow us to shed our ugly American attitudes for awhile. 

I have a love hate relationship with islands that are always overruled by love, as evidence of my return to them.  I love who I am when I am in the islands.  I love love love the water and heat in the islands.  My "hate" always came with the lack of resources on the islands and the terrible chasm between poverty and resort on many islands in the Caribbean.  Our BFF's have been vacationing in St. Maarten for two decades and finally talked us into going with them.  It was remarkable and is the perfect fit in an island for us.  Stunning beaches and water, great diving, affordable housing, five star food, unique and distinct culture that involves a healthy middle class.  It checked all of our boxes.

One of the days when I was baking in the sun,  I knew that my mind had turned into appropriate mush when I didn't even care to reflect on the emotional state I was in, I just wanted to be in neutral, in the moment, feeling the joy and utter peace of the time and place.  I cried the morning of our return, not wanting to leave the island, the people, or who I was when I was there. 10 days isn't enough.  I don't know how much time would be enough.

Island Vacation Girl is an utter joy.  She is fun, she is carefree, she doesn't feel the need to care-take, she really doesn't give a shit about what is happening 'cause it's all going to work out whether she puts her hands in it or not and if not?  It's not her responsibility to work it out anyway.  Y'all will get that figured out on your own or will ask for assistance if you really need her.  Island vacation girl is so emotionally stable.  She sleeps when she's tired and eats when she's hungry and moves when she needs to move.  She communes with the island, she digs her toes in the white sand, grounding her to the time and place, she surrenders it all to the sea while she floats and feels all the centuries move around her and through her in an ancient and eternal way.  

She heals.

She knits together in an invisible way (of which she is completely unaware- the results of the magic of sand and water and sun) the things that tore apart from the past years under the stress of regular life.  A spell is conjured by the waves upon the shore, constant and insistent, and she remembers who she is when the false necessities are stripped away.  

Oh how I love her.  

I tried to bring her home with me.  She didn't make the trip as well as I hoped.  The fantastic news is that I have another week at a beach next week, even if it is stateside.  Maybe I can coax her out for a while there, too.

But, St. Maarten?  St. Maarten calls to me.  Her siren song is magical.  I am sure that I will continue to hear it long into the upcoming year.  I can't wait to go back and answer her call.  

"Now while our darling wanders she thinks of
lovely Atthis's love,
and longing sinks deep in her breast.

She cries loudly for us to come!  We hear,
for the night's many tongues
carry her cry across the sea."

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