We’re on a BOAT.

One evening in 2011, as I was clearing the table after dinner, my mother asked me if I would ever consider going on a cruise, which I thought was a strange question.  I said yes, I would try one, I had heard fun things about them.  My mother then asked if I would go on a cruise to the Bahamas in 2012 in order to chaperone my sister, whose dance troupe was invited to perform.  They’d cover the cost of both of us if I agreed to take her.

This was some serious left field shit from my parents, just so you know.  I don’t think Bernie thought for a hot second that they would ever consider lettering her do this, never mind actually let her do it.  I was flabbergasted by the invitation, too.  Both my parents were wary of sea travel, and not interested in going, but I was, so they figured I could take her.  So, for the next year, we raised money by selling candles and whatnot and December 4th 2012 found us on our very first plane ride.  Neither of us had traveled by air before, so that was interesting.  I’m not sure who calmed down whom.  I do recall badly wanting a cigarette, taking a Xanax instead, and falling asleep.

 When we got to the Orlando airport, I went outside for a smoke.  I took three drags, then hacked my way back inside, because Florida air is simply unbreathable.  I went back and we found our group, and took a cab to the dock, where we boarded the nice, air-conditioned ship. That afternoon, I fell asleep.  I missed all the little “welcome to the boat” festivities.  This made me sad.  However, I woke up the next morning in Freeport, the first of the three places we would be visiting.

What we saw of the island on the way to the “tourist” area was dismal.  Deserted houses, abandoned buildings, a hospital with only three cars in the parking lot…it was like a ghost town.  There were also huge oil reserve drums everywhere with big tropical fish painted on them, like that made it better.  When we got to our stop, we found an overpriced open air market.  Then we wandered over to a beach, and the kids (none of whom are really kids anymore) played in the water while I got some sun and took pictures.  It was…fine.  If it hadn’t been the first time my toe touched ocean in 20 years I probably wouldn’t have even registered the trip. 

The following day, we went to Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by Carnival cruise line, which was paradise on earth.  It had a gorgeous beach.  It was exactly what you think of when you think of a Caribbean island, and I wish we had gone there first, of course, that would have made Freeport a bigger let down, probably.  There were three details I loved about HMC: chickens, just running around at your feet; a tiny wedding chapel; a very tiny post office.  Bern and I spent a wonderful afternoon there, splashing and sunning and drinking (well, me, not her.)

The next day, we went to Nassau on New Providence Island.  We spent much of the day on Paradise Island, so I didn’t see much city, but there was a beautiful beach that we visited and Bernie went on a banana boat.  I wished we had simply stayed there.  I know that when I come back to the Bahamas, and I will, I will stay at a resort on New Providence, so I can experience the whole island and city.  Something about it struck me, the way NYC did when I went there when I was 16. 

Anyway, I’m telling you about this trip because it inspired the setting for my WIP.

I didn’t know it at the time.  I knew that my MC’s grew up on a small deserted island, much like Half Moon Cay, but I had no idea other events would end up taking place in Nassau.  I was aiming for Colorado in the beginning, but discovered the distance could not easily be crossed, so they will soon end up on Paradise Island.  I like using a setting I have a little familiarity with.  I have been researching a lot, though.

First, I took to Twitter, to see if I had any friends with any info, and I talked to a couple people who gave me their impressions of the Bahamas and some much needed information on firearms.  Then I thought, “gee, maybe you should ask someone who WENT ON THE TRIP WITH YOU.”  Cue my sister, of course, and her friend Audrey.  Audrey was only 12 at the time, and she spent most of the time off the boat with her family doing other things, so she had a lot of insight into the city and such that I did not get.  I wish I could contact the “kids” I spent my time with…I suppose I could, I’m still FB friends with them, but I feel weird being like “hi I haven’t talked to you in forever but what was your favorite thing about the cruise?”

I loved taking that cruise for many reasons, not just the islands.  I mean, they had 24-hour frozen yogurt.  But also, it’s when my little sister went from being my little sister, to being my friend.  Now, it’s 9 years later and she is one of my best friends, and my number one person (sorry, Mark.  But he knows how it is.)  So, when I look back on the cruise and the memories and try to relive it all, I feel a sort of peace and happiness well up inside, and I am hoping I can put that emotion on paper.  I want to convey everything I experienced and felt, and use my MC’s to do it. 

Anyways…I’m going to go drink some coffee and finish watching the news and try not to get mad at the stories.  It’s already too late.  Some idiot in my county scheduled SEVEN vaccine appointments.  Bro…leave a little for the rest of us.

Bernie, on Half Moon Cay.

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