This past week, Mom and I took leave.  In what has become an annual retreat, we jetted off to the Bahamas for a few days in search of serious nothingness.  And we achieved just that.  Halleluiah.

Our travel plans took shape in the usual way.  At some point in June, both of us got that look that may have appeared to the untrained eye as “subdued” or “peaceful.”  But we immediately recognized it in each other as “surrender to enemy,” so I got busy, pronto.   Our need to escape the rat race and have something to look forward to drove me to the Internet and the “source of all sources” – TripAdvisor.

It was there that I found Cape Santa Maria, which popped up as the #1 resort in the Bahamas.   Having never heard of it, I dug a little deeper. Never before had I seen such rave reviews on a website know to be a magnet for complainers.  But I tend to listen to the complainers and make my own judgments based on the complaint, putting more weight on remarks regarding cleanliness or beach insects than slow service.  In fact, slow service was the only ding that CSM had against it and, quite frankly, it’s the Bahamas, people!  Part of the charm is the slowness and “no worries” attitude.  And the photos of the talcum powder beach and turquoise blue water that was just steps from our private bungalow, along with extremely reasonable pricing for hurricane season August, prompted me to send Mom the link with the email message:  I WANT TO GO HERE.

I am my mother’s daughter as she agreed it looked terrific.  She even agreed to take the tiny puddle jumper of a flight from Nassau to Long Island (yes, it is on an island called Long Island – but without the New Yorkers).  Coming from someone who doesn’t like to fly in giant commercial jets, her enthusiasm for the trip sealed the deal.  We were off – packing plenty of Xanax for the flight sunscreen for when we landed.

Dave dropped us at the airport on Sunday and took off for Rhode Island to spend time with his Mom and Dad.  We never intended to dedicate these days to spending quality, one-on-one time with our respective parents but it felt good for both of us.  No matter how well spouses and in-laws get along (and we do very well in this category), our presence changes the family dynamic – not in a good or bad way – but in a way that perhaps could be forsaken every now and then in the name of meaningful bonding .  It’s never a bad idea to share a few days with your parents alone – just the way it used to be.  (Take note, boys, for future reference.  I expect to see you twenty years from now at my doorstep without whatshername in tow – just for a few days.  Okay?)

But I digress – back to my vacation….

At various times in my life when seeking calmness or a meditative state, I have been directed to “go to my happy place.”  And I have always struggled with this requirement, as it remains a very tough question.  Places don’t make me happy – people do.  So I usually wind up choosing “a fluffy cloud” because I assumed that I would be happy and peaceful there.  It’s so soft and puffy, how could I not?

But the good news is that I no longer have to go with the default happy place.  I found my real one.

It is swimming in the ocean at Cape Santa Maria.  Standing on the softest sand my toes have ever touched, moving my arms through calm water that actually feels silky, with nothing to see but the turquoise water, interrupted only by the cobalt sky.  This, dear MoB readers, is where I’m going in the coming year when things I get a little too serious.  It was a wonderful place.  There was nothing to do there but sit on the beach, swim, eat, drink and sleep.  My kids would have been bored as bat shit in 15 minutes.  For me, it was paradise.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was there with Mom.  She knows this, but I cherish the time we spend together, mostly because we have such fun.  It was never too early for a drink, she beat the pants off me at cards, and we found and named a small creature in our bathroom Newt Gingrich.

On this particular trip I felt strongly (as I was submerged in my happy place) to ask her what the meaning of life was.  Unprepared for my serious question, she thought for a moment and came up with perhaps the world’s worst metaphor – so bad that I don’t even recall the details but think “Forrest Gump and Box of Chocolates” kind of bad.  Her deep thoughts did nothing to enlighten me but it fueled our laughter and subsequent attempts at even worse analogies –all beginning with “Life is like….” And filling in the blank with whatever happened to be in front of us at the moment.

Our philosophical portion of the vacation was short lived but well played.  We would have been better off bringing a case of fortune cookies with us and reading them aloud to one another, but we certainly get an A for effort.  And luckily, there’s always next year – and years after that — to figure out the meaning of life.  Although something tells me that we both already know.

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