“I couldn’t help but notice how optimistic your blog post was, in contrast to our conversation, which was… not… I hope the blog better reflects reality.”
-Liad (my beloved brother)
I opened my eyes to the predawn darkness. What was the matter? Why was I wide awake at 3:00 AM? The toothpaste of memory sluggishly squeezed itself out of its tube and onto my awareness. Of course. I had crashed around 6:30 PM the previous day. And, since, for a change, my body was in healthy, wealthy and wise sleeping habits, it had done the reasonable thing and awoken me once it was done resting, rather than oversleep. These habits, I’m afraid, were to prove frightfully short-lived.
So I did what any good Yogi would do, and greeted the new day with a Yoga session on the porch of a downtown Nassau motel, and even if the day wasn’t quite there yet, I felt sure it would catch up with my greeting once it arrived.
“You can’t be looking for a job here. You can’t even be here. If the police catch you here, they’ll lock you up!” explained the head of security for the bay reserved for the cruise liners, gruffly but kindly. I stood in his office, surrounded by armed men in military uniform, trying very hard not to let on that I was more guessing his words than hearing them. I’m not sure whose idea it was that I should consult the cruise-liner immigration office, but I was quickly marched across the hall, to stand before a rather dumbfounded woman, who seemed quite helpless, and perhaps a bit irate that someone was giving her grief so early in the morning.
“You can’t leave by boat! You came by plane! You leave by plane!”
She was very decisive, and who was I to argue? She may or may not have been correct. The same goes for the well-meaning security official who warned me against the police. In fact, Antoine, the policeman I had spoken to the other day was very kind. We exchanged phone numbers, and he actually texted me a few days later to see what had become of me. I wish I could have had his hat. He had a very nice hat.
I never saw Miss Wallace. I waited outside the US embassy for her to speak to me. There was no inside waiting room, don’t ask me why. There was certainly no shortage of the characteristic paranoid mass of security, you can be sure of that. I sat down and meditated as best I could in the meager shade of the awning by the entrance blockade, seeking some oh-so-elusive peace of mind.
“Go to the embassy,” everyone kept telling me. “It’s right by the big McDonald’s.” At the irony of this I chuckled, and I sighed, and, eventually, I said to myself: “Oh, what the McNuggets! I might as well go have a look.”
“Son!” my reverie was interrupted, “come on in.” I don’t remember whether they actually said ‘son,’ but that’s how my mind fills in the blanks, where the US embassy is concerned.
As I said, I never saw Miss Wallace. I walked in and was handed a phone, which I tentatively put to my ear, hoping against hope that Miss Wallace had a loud voice.
“So you ran out of money?”
“We currently have no funds for aiding people in your situation. Usually we do, but now we don’t. Do you have any relatives in the States we could talk to?”
“No! Don’t! It’s OK. I was just wondering if you could perhaps help me find a boat to take me on? I can work. I WANT A BOAT!”
I didn’t get a boat, but it wasn’t for any lack of effort on Miss Wallace’s part. She directed me to Carnival Cruise’s local agency, and I was very hopeful. It is unfortunate that by the time I arrived there, I was quite desperate to be gone from the Caribbean. They gave me expensive, inconvenient options. I opted for the flight.
There was one offer I found, that appealed to me. I was waiting for the ferry to the Ashram again, when a man walked up from the dock, followed by the sweetest puppy you ever. I was delighted when she pounced at me playfully.
Mark and I got to talking.
“Well, I’m not going to the States, but south, to Cuba. But I am looking for someone to join me on my boat. I’ve been to Israel, and I’ll be visiting there again soon.”
“Really?” My eyes must have lit up with a cautious lustre. “How soon?”
“Oh, about a year or two.”
Why? Why, why, why did I have to sign up for school? I was tempted. I was torn. I grimaced, because I knew there was no way. “Sorry, guv.”
On the plus side, this way I don’t give my mother a heart-attack. And, don’t tell her, but I wrote down his e-mail. Who knows what the future may hold?
“Can you drive me to the airport?” Dimitri asked offhandedly.
I stared at him, blankly, waiting for him to add “I’m joking,” in the same bland tone, which he occasionally did, which was silly. I was quickly learning, however, that he never said it when you really wished he would. Like when he was talking about his divorce, for instance. Instances. Many, many instances. The expectant silence stretched on.
“I don’t have a car.”
“You can use mine.”
“I don’t have an international license.”
“This is the Bahamas! No one cares.”
“I’ve never driven on the left side of the road.”
“OK. Your funeral. And mine.”
Dimitri. This is the first time I’ve had to present any of my characters under a false name. I am afraid, however, that his identity will still be painfully obvious to those who know him. Nevertheless, it is my duty, as Knight and Protector of the Blog, to handle the telling with as much tact as possible.
So, as tactfully as possible, I will mention that the night I spent with my friend “Dimitri” was largely responsible for my greatly agitated state, which lent to my decision to abandon my madcap schemes in favor of some safe, relaxed quality time with my family in Philadelphia.
PLEASE NOTE: I HEREBY DECLARE THAT MY CURRENT LOCALE IS PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA.
I met Dimitri at the Sivananda Ashram. He was a fellow trainee of mine. His wife and two children would come visit him some evenings. It wasn’t until we were driving to his house that I discovered…
Did I mention he kept talking about his divorce? Did I mention that his divorce is currently ongoing? Well, it is. In addition, he was, when last I saw him, in the process of moving. To another country. His entire house was a mess. And the best part is, I didn’t know about any of this until we were halfway to his house.
“My mother in law is staying with us. Try to make her happy for me. I’m joking. Oh, and tomorrow morning I’m flying to the States,” was the coup-de-grace. “But you’re welcome to stay at my house as long as you like. You can use my car, my kayak, my computer… Not my boat or my jet-ski, unless you know how to drive them. I don’t know how, I just bought ’em.”
They did not cover this in basic training.
“Can you drive me to the airport?”
I drove him to the airport, the very next day, after spending a nerve-wracking night at his house. There was nothing wrong, specifically, just that everything there made me uneasy. When we parted, I told him I didn’t think I would avail myself of his questionable hospitality any longer. I didn’t put it quite like that.
“Really, you can stay. Everyone else is really nice. I’m the only one that’s crazy,” were his last words to me. I bade him goodbye, and drove his car back to his house. I then promptly got the hell out of there.
Writing is hard work. I thought I would wrap up my last days in the Bahamas in one post. Now I see, after a full day’s work, I couldn’t even fit them into two. What I have not yet told, will wait for another post.
There’s just one more thing I need to tell, before I close up shop for the day. “My debt of gratitude” – the stunning revelation. Are you ready? Call my brother for the drum roll! Here it comes!
My debt of gratitude is to you. Whoever you are, if you’re reading this, I thank you from the depths of my heart. And here’s why:
I can be cheerful and good-natured. In spite of this, I experience anxiety, frustration and depression just as much as any of you. More than most, probably. I curse myself for my mistakes. I look to my friends in envy. I mourn my loneliness. But I know you don’t want to read about some guy pitying himself. If you did, you would be reading classic literature. So, when I take the time to update this humble log of web, and I review the jumble of experiences I have accumulated, I try to pick out the ones that bear repeating. And suddenly, lo and behold! A wonderful adventure is born!
So I thank you all, for showing me my life can be something worth writing about.
“Whoa, whoa, wait! Wait! Is it all just a lie then?” You might be wondering. “Are you happy, or sad, or what? What’s the truth?”
You should know better by now. You and my brother, both. I am a writer. My truth is a very stylized thing.