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Archive for September, 2018

bonus days

Settle in, friends, for a few paragraphs of sunshine and relaxation that looking back make me long for the week my sister Robyn and I spent in Turks and Caicos in July.

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Our goal was to not have to think plan choose hike nothing. We found a reasonable all-inclusive resort built on the sand with good enough food and no need to even slide into flip flops, the water was so close to our room.

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Hammocks are my jam, so I spent a lot of time reading* in this one, and R bought the inner tube that allowed me to read in the pool as well, drifting side to side, one hand dragging in the water, wet fingerprints on the pages with each turn. (We left the pineapple behind for a bartender’s kids who played with it one day.)

The first five days of vacation were remarkable in their utterly perfect unremarkable-ness. Wake food beach food pool nap drink ocean hammock food drink lounge. One day we went to the gym. To stretch. Or at least that’s all I did there.

But from the moment we landed, I knew I wanted to extend the vacation. When the customs officer asked me how I was, I told him I was great and wanted to stay forever. The day before we were supposed to head home, I pulled the trigger and swapped out our tickets for one last day in the turquoise water.

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After booking an extra night in our room, we arranged for the next day our first foray off the resort properties (well, my sister had ridden a bike into town a time or two) – a day on a boat, snorkeling in the reefs for our bonus day.

My attempt to capture anything below the surface with my waterproof case clad phone resulted not in schools of yellow-tailed robin’s egg blue fish or fluorescent white-tipped black fish or waving branches of chartreuse seaweed. Rather, I’m left with nearly fifty fuzzy photos of water or one of my fingers blocking the lens. Instead, I give you an iguana hiding in the shadows on our last stop of the day.

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Back on dry land and in service range, I got a text from the airline: due to a storm in New York, we could change our flights without penalty. Out of concern for our safety – and truly only out of concern for our safety – we decided to stay one more night.

Bonus day number two!

Already scraping the bottom of our budget, we switched to a less expensive hotel (decision!), fended for food ourselves (more decisions!), and had to cross the street if we wanted to go to the beach (effort!).

Turns out exploring was good for us, and we were ready for it. R found an adorable flower slash coffee shop that we visited once, twice, (and she thrice). Across the street is vegetarian cafe Retreat Kitchen where we got lunch and found out about their adjacent yoga studio. More on that in a moment.

That last night, we stayed in the water – salty and buoyant enough for easy floating without the pineapple left behind – until the sun met the sea.

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Now, plastered on the window of that studio was an announcement about morning yoga overlooking the water at the Beach Enclave.

Which is how at 8 am on our (really, truly, no joke this time) last day, we ended up here…

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… doing downward dog, overlooking the water …

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… sweating our sports bras off. Suppressing giggles when I tipped over backwards during some sort of squat thing, rolled a few times like in Pilates to save face, and took a moment of repose in what I learned was shavasana (dead man’s pose) under the most barely detectable of fan-driven breezes.

From yoga to breakfast, we returned to Retreat Kitchen and took our food to go. I went straight to the beach with a bottle fresh watermelon juice and an unseasonable but delightful toast, sipping an affogato as my morning coffee because that’s what vacation is for, right?

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I parked myself on a low chair at the edge of the water, face towards the sun, waves slowly burying the frame and lapping at my tush as the chair sunk deeper and deeper into the soft sand.

***

Though I intended to publish this story over a month ago, it seems that this will be my pre-Rosh Hashanah post which always lends itself to some sort of reflection and wish. So, for 5779, I hope for the world a year of unremarkable times of normalcy and calm punctuated by bonus days of warmth (physical and emotional), sunshine (in the sky and in our hearts), beauty (inside and out), delectable food, friends and family and strangers to share it with, mistakes we can gracefully solve that we can giggle about later.

L’shana tova u’metukah to all those celebrating and Happy September to everyone else. With that, let’s eek out the last days of summer with one-ingredient watermelon juice, spiked if you’d like.

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Watermelon Juice

This recipe — if you can call it one — is inspired by our trip trip to Turks & Caicos and our meals at Retreat Kitchen.

Cut up a seedless watermelon and whizz it in a blender until completely liquified. Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids.

That’s it.

A squeeze of lime brightens the flavor.

If your watermelon isn’t sweet enough, add sugar until it tastes right.

If you want to get fancy, fill a dish with a 1:1 mix of sugar:sea salt. Wet the rim of your glass with a lime wedge, swirl it in the dish, and fill with juice.

If you want to get tipsy, stir in some tequila, vodka, or rum.

***

* ps – The book I read isn’t your typical beach read – it’s poet Nina RiggsThe Bright Hour, a delicate memoir of the author’s last years with terminal breast cancer. It’s hard to describe, but here’s an excerpt first published in the NY Times Modern Love column. The book has been compared to Paul Kalanithi‘s When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir of a neurosurgeon’s last years with terminal lung cancer. In a twist that can only be called poetic, Nina suggested that her husband connect with Paul’s widow and the two eventually coupled up. The Bright Hour is beautiful and good for a cleansing – but not sad – cry.

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