Everyone has a place in their head…a little golden room, an oasis-like cathedral where they scurry off to when times get rough, or the winter gets too cold. Life offers us fewer chances to create these “happy place” memories than we’d like, but when they happen we hang on to the sweetness until we’re many years and many miles away from them. They often happen far from the place we lay our heads at night, which is part of the reason they help us escape reality so well…the sought after, excruciatingly rare…perfect day.
I recently returned home from a wonderful Caribbean vacation that graced me with one of these days. I was a little leery of the place when we first docked in Cozumel, Mexico. I’d heard so many stories of drug wars, and a general hatred of Americans in this area that I was certain I wouldn’t have a good time. Nevertheless, we booked an excursion with an attempt to make the best of what we thought would be a nerve-wracking port. However, to my surprise, I made a memory that will make me smile for years to come.
We began our adventure in a shabby old jeep, which my husband nearly made love to after driving. He and my friend’s husband took turns dashing down dirt roads, hydro-planing over huge mud puddles, and skidding in sideways to our destinations. We girls screamed and laughed in the back seat as the dirt and water flew into the vehicle threatening to wreck our perfect bathing suits. The sun knew no cloud that day and the wind rushing into the jeep tempered the delightful sting of the sun. The salt from the ocean danced in the air, and palm trees rustled in every turn. The atmosphere was flawless.
Our first stop was a cave that twisted and turned into mysterious caverns that the Mayans once explored. Fossils of sea creatures, and ancient markings were all about the walls. Deep within, there was a large natural mineral pool with the bluest water I’d ever laid eyes on. We squealed as we plunged into the freezing, purifying waters before scrubbing our bodies with a mineral rich blend from the depths of the hidden pool. The stalactites and stalagmites framed the close quarters and worked together to create a wonder world unlike anything I’d ever been a part of…it was pure magic.
After the cave, we hopped back into the rugged road vessel and sped to Playa de Carmen, where the water rivaled the hue of a blue topaz ring in my jewelry box. We laid in the white sand, sunning our bodies on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, before cooling off in the mesmerizing sea. We ate authentic Mexican cuisine and enjoyed fruity drinks the guys would be embarrassed to admit they partook of…any cares I had were sitting on a shelf somewhere in Asheville, NC…they certainly weren’t here.
It was a good day. Even the sight of Mexican Police standing out of the sun roof of a tank-like vehicle with automatic weapons didn’t shake me after all I’d done that day. The day was a gift, and I’d feel sorry for whatever the reasons were for the ominous law enforcement parade another day. I was given one of those days I can fly away to with the flutter of an eyelid whenever I choose. I hope everyone, and I suppose most do, have days like this that make the other days feel a little softer. I hope people have days like this to remember the existence of grace, the presence of an oasis, and the excitement of days to come. I hope everyone reading this has a smile on his or her face right now, feeling a nostalgic tug towards a time far behind them. I hope you are in that memory now, smiling and saying to yourself, “that was a good day.”