My fresh blowout went wild with the wind as I gazed from behind my sunglasses at the technicolor turquoise water. I was mesmerized by the wake behind the boat which reminded me of elaborate Busby Berkeley choreography and the ever-changing kaleidoscope of memories that trailed behind me like bygone eras. Big life changes were happening to me and I still felt like more of a spectator than an active participant. I was on my way to an exclusive resort island which I'd call home for the next two years.
The resort guests and I were met at the dock by hotel management who were all dressed in requisite khakis, white button-down shirts, welcoming smiles and firm handshakes. It was here that the distinction between hotel guests (them) and employee (me) was initially made. Because, up until this point we had all traveled together; from the flight to the airport transfer to the boat ride. But here, we were escorted to separate buggies. The hotel guests were heading toward the resort's five-star accommodations with all its luxurious amenities. I, on the other hand, was heading toward the Staff Village, located across the street and tucked discreetly behind a picturesque landscape and a small sign that reads "Staff Only". Let's just say that my accommodations are a bit more -- rustic.
Most people assume that, because I live on a private resort island, my days are filled with snorkeling in the crystal clear water, lounging by the infinity pool with my Kindle and a cocktail, soaking my muscles in the Spa's outdoor garden jacuzzi, cleansing my pores in the steam room or sauna, unwinding with weekly massages, taking daily yoga classes and indulging in award-winning cuisine. What my life really looks like is a 6:30am alarm followed by a morning purge into my Indie Girl Diary and a tepid shower with negligible water pressure. My housemates and I converge in the kitchen to make our own individual breakfasts and, after walking my dog, I'm at an 8am Spa meeting where I'm handed my schedule of private Pilates/Fitness guests for the day. And depending upon hotel occupancy, that can be zero to five guests plus my complimentary group class at either 9am or 5pm. But because I'm on-call from 9am to 9pm I end up spending most of the day in the house awaiting that potential phone call telling me that a new session has been booked. When I'm feeling totally stir crazy, I call management and ask permission to go to the beach, the running path or the meditation hut for an hour and assure them I'll have my phone with me - just in case. And I do prioritize a workout in the Pilates Studio or the Fitness Center almost every day. As for food, our meals are provided at the Staff Cafeteria and are a steady rotation of fried fish or chicken, stewed beef or oxtails, boiled veggies, occasional fresh greens, peas & rice and white rice. Yuck! So I go grocery shopping on the main island every week (on my one day off) and cook all of my meals. Once in awhile I splurge and order take-out from the restaurant or ask permission to sit amongst the guests and enjoy the pleasure of being served. My social life pretty much consists of Facebook, Netflix and Hulu.com assuming the internet is working. But I also spend a lot of time writing, daydreaming and wondering what the future will bring; especially once my two-year contract is up. Will I be eager to return to NYC or will I find happiness and fulfillment here on this island; even though I'm not one of "them"?
In the meantime, what we do share, them and me, is the same paradise island and some of the best beaches in the world. We bask under the same rejuvenating sun and are equally refreshed from brief rain showers followed by the most magnificent rainbows. We share the same fresh air, colorful sunsets and wish upon the same star-filled skies. We witness the creativity in nature and the personalities of its creatures big and small. And we all get to experience the stillness, tranquility and privacy necessary to reconnect with ourselves, focus on wellness, and re-evaluate our priorities. On this island we're all reminded the importance of returning to self and returning to nature. And to be gentler to both.