Monday, July 02, 2007

Long to Conception Islands

20.6 nm
Wind: dead calm, occasional breeze no more than three knots
Latitude: 23°50.98’N
Longitude: 075°07.51’W
Maximum speed: 4.0 knots
Average speed: 3.2 knots

Well, today we got to paradise. Yup, that’s it. Found it. It’s right outside the porthole. How does it feel to open your computer and have your screen saver match the outside? I now know. I have a few quibbles, of course--the lack of palm trees, for one. Minor quibbles, when I compare this place to my ideal version of paradise. I remember that entry I made way back in Florida, when the ICW still held us in its muddy clutches, when I described the perfect deserted island. I never thought I’d actually find it.

There’s a beautiful two-mile beach for a longish run stretched out in front of me. We’re anchored about a hundred feet in front of a giant coral head swimming with purple-and-blue parrotfish, angelfish, rays, giant 40-pound grouper lurking in the shadows, and a fourteen-foot-long nurse shark policeman with a long skinny symbiotic fish swinging off him like a billy club. Two miles north is the best diving reef in the Bahamas, and around the corner, for dinghying to, is what our guidebook calls a “snorkeling kiddy park.”

The water’s so perfectly clear I can see the plankton through my snorkel, and our anchor thirty feet below us, its chain hanging perfectly straight. The water’s steel blue and so flat that I can identify the clouds by their reflections. The sun’s shining gently around the corners of the awning. Karl has the stereo singing softly from the corner. We have everything we need to live for months, including at least a bushel of tomatoes, cabbages, squashes, oranges, lettuce, limes. I could live here for months on end, protected from every direction of the wind, shifting from the east to the west side of the island depending on the weather front. There are even mangroves on the inside for hurricanes. The island’s completely uninhabited--not a soul on the entire thing. In short, paradise.

What’s funny is that in my last phone call to my sister she said she has trouble reading my blog because she was afraid of finding this entry. She didn’t think she could deal with the envy. I love her for that--I envy her life in so many ways--and I just laughed because I knew that paradise didn’t actually exist. No island’s 100 percent perfect. This one doesn’t have palm trees, for instance. But it has absolutely EVERYTHING ELSE. How can that be? How can it be possible? And how can I live here forever?

The truth is that it still isn’t paradise. Erica doesn’t have to be jealous, because paradise still doesn’t exists. The kernel of unhappiness always exists, even here. For me, it’s that I have to leave tomorrow. I have to keep pressing on, towards some ulterior and probably ridiculous goal. Money, weather, fear--whatever it is that is driving us on--I hate it. I want to wring its ugly neck. Why can’t I just stay in the perfect moment, stay here forever?

Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I keep losing paradise because I keep trying to hold onto it. I let go of the idea of it, open my hands to let it fly away like a bird, and relish every second of this calm, perfect night.

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