I vividly remember the first night we met.
It was a Thursday evening nearly ten years ago. A friend of mine convinced me to go to a local pub and listen to live music. Staying home alone as a depressed single mother seemed more comfortable, but my friend disagreed. When we arrived at the pub it was overflowing with people. There was a man standing behind me staring intently in my direction. Trying to be discreet, I turned around slowly and immediately locked eyes with him. He looked uncannily familiar. Instantly, I realized that this was my old high school friend Wes. The last time we were together was twenty years ago when we signed each other’s yearbook.
We hugged. We talked. We went home, separately.
When I fell asleep that night I dreamed that Wes and I traveled to an exotic island. In this dream, we were sitting very close together on a beautiful, white sand beach, listening to the crashing sound of waves as they tumbled to our feet, staring intensely at each other. Our eyes began to close as we leaned forward and kissed for a very long time.
We have been married for seven years now and have shared many spectacular kisses just like in my dream. Wes gave me a book titled “Beaches” on our first wedding anniversary. Inside, on the first page, he inscribed:
“Here’s to seeing you – the most beautiful woman in the world on all of the most, beautiful beaches in the world!!! We have the rest of our lives to see them all. Love, Wes”
He has kept his promise. As of now we have traveled to twenty-seven different islands all over the world from New Jersey to the French Riviera. On our first vacation adventure we explored the Caribbean islands surrounding Saint Martin. One day we took a ferry from Saint Martin to the little island of Anguilla. The clean, white beaches, the sparse population, the food, and open vistas combined to make this destination one of a kind … or so I thought.
We have traveled to twenty-six other islands since visiting Anguilla and only two, Nevis and Saint John, have come close to the allure of Anguilla. Nevis and Saint John are lovely, small islands on which good people, great food, and breathtaking beaches can be found. There are other places not worth the visit. Saint Thomas is a cruise ship mecca with a high crime rate and lackluster offerings of sand and sea and my least favorite island out of the twenty-seven.
Recently we were trying to determine a spring break destination. It needed to be a place that would be new to us and fun to explore. Eleuthera piqued our interest, so we made lodging and transportation reservations and were on our way.
As our plane descended onto this long, narrow island I began to feel a thrill of exultation. Wes felt it too. We had not even touched our feet on the ground, yet we sensed something very special about this island.
We arrived at our bungalow then immediately walked to the beach. It was there, at that moment—when our toes sunk into the soft, pink sand and the sparkling turquoise waves washed over us—that we knew, definitively and instinctively that we had found the perfect island, unlike any other. It was vexing, intoxicating, and transcendent. We fell in love immediately with Eleuthera. It was as though the chains of monotony were clipped and we were finally able to escape the cookie cutter island vacation experience. Feeling liberated and enchanted, we could not wait to explore this “Island of Freedom.”