When my grandfather died and we were stuck on the islands as my father arranged to get grandpas body back to the mainland we hung out with friends… the usually bright sky of those islands will forever be overcast.
I remember being at the beach with my brother, staring at the waves rolling in… the children of my mothers friends untouched by the deep loss that we were going through.
I sat on that beach, gray skies, but no rain… my lightly tanned legs stretched out in front of me, my heart heavy… I watched my friends, these children of the friends my mother had that lived on the island. Two boys my age and two young girls, I watched them jumping and playing in the water, I sat near my mother’s friends Mary and Christie, two women who would continue to influence me for what will be the rest of my life. I like to think that they felt a palpable grief for this small sailing party that included my family and had just been dealt a blow. One of them, Mary I think, put her hand on my back and told me to go play. I hesitated and she called for her son, Daniel and Christie’s son, Jason. She told them to get me in the water and teach me to play some game. Daniel grabbed my hand, and Jason grabbed my other and pulled me up. They trotted to the water, forcing me to move… they jumped in the water and dove under… the water was so beautifully clear that I could see the sun reflect off of their tanned backs, the kind of tanned skin that children that live on islands tend to have, reflecting gold and bronze. They surfaced over to my left, where a mangrove was… its gloomy, gnarled and ropey trunks enticing me like sirens… I started swimming towards them when Daniel grabbed my foot and pulled me short. we stood up and he told me to stay away from them as the eels like to hang out there and he dove off again. I watched his back arch and his legs kick out behind him into the air as he made a head dive into the deeper water… and I thought he was beautiful. I watched Daniel and Jason play with in the water with me for the next hour or so, until Mary and Christie called us out and we went in to one of their homes. But by then, I had managed to fall in love with both of them… the very first boys I would ever love.
Trips to the Galapagos for most people require a guide, the guide will repeatedly tell you to not take anything with you, to not move any thing to pick it up and put it right back where you found it… and that trip was all about that. I was visiting, and left so much behind when we finally had permission to leave. My father had managed to get (bribe, most likely) a military cargo plane to take us all and my grandfathers body back to the mainland. We all boarded, my grandfathers makeshift coffin in the middle of the cargo hold. All of us, the adults and the kids (there were a total of 10 of us on that trip) sat on seats in that plane. Military personnel and their “guests” (years later my mother would refer to them as their floozies, which was such an appropriate word) boarded after us, they sat on the seats surrounding the coffin and placed their wine glasses and ashtray on the box that held his body. And we flew home watching them play cards, drink, smoke, and flirt.
So, this story came to me because I ate a frozen chocolate cupcake with mint icing while I was pondering what to write for the 40 Days of Writing group for day 4. It struck a chord and brought to mind a story, but that tale needs to come up at a later time, I had to share the preface first.
“Just in the nick of time they realized that it was their own habitat they were wrecking — that they weren’t merely visitors.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut