I truly believe in self-assessment and self-reflection of oneself. I believe a person with strong character knows their worth and their flaws. Acceptance of oneself in all your glory and imperfections allows you to set personal goals that enhance personal growth. Some people refer to it as “Me” time. I recently went on my much needed annual vacation to somewhere hotter than Michigan. I started my voyage in South Beach and from there boarded a Carnival cruise ship to the Caribbean; Grand Turks and the Bahamas to be specific. This was my third time in Miami and probably my eighth time in Florida. But it was my first time on a cruise and my first time going to the Caribbean. No, I didn’t go with a group of girlfriends. No, I didn’t go with a man (I’m not in a relationship). No, I wasn’t afraid to be alone. I was looking forward to it. I was looking forward to digging my own space under the sunshine of the south of Florida and on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
My flight departed without incident, although they had overbooked the flight. My flight landed on time and my shuttle arrived quickly to take me to The Richmond Hotel. The Richmond was a nice, oceanfront, boutique hotel on Collins Avenue in South Beach. However, I soon came to the realization that I was the only person of color on the premises who was not an employee there. It started in increments. First, at check in I was asked to pay for the two remaining nights of my stay in advance, plus an additional resort fee for “incidentals”. When I asked what type of incidentals would that additional fee cover, I was told “in case you break something”. I quickly raised my voice a little too loud for their comfort and informed them that I would not be paying in advance, nor would I be throwing rock star parties and breaking anything during my stay. Yes, I was offended. I didn’t know if this request was being made because I was Black or if it was because I was from Detroit. Either way, I was offended and I let it be known. Especially since none of the other quests checking in had been asked to pay in advance. I agreed to pay the resort fee, but let them know that I wouldn’t pay another dime until check out.
Later, as I lay out by the pool, I was greeted by the pleasantly surprised faces of the Afro-Caribbean women and men, who either worked in housekeeping or as doormen. They greeted me in the hallways and at the door, everyday with big, proud, smiles. Mind you, this was not a four or five star hotel; it may have been a three star hotel at best. But “we” apparently, were moving on up like George and Weezie.
On this trip I also had to endure the weeding of my garden and eliminate individuals from my life. Without this trip, I may not have been able to identify those people. I just don’t believe it to be necessary for me to allow men to mistreat me or speak to me in a disrespectful manner, simply because, out of their ignorance, they “think” they can. So they got dismissed – permanently and without apology.
Aside for the small bumps, the Caribbean is one of the most beautiful places I’ve laid eyes on. I’m thankful for the opportunity and finances to be able to enjoy myself. I learned new things, met interesting and intelligent people from across the USA and in the Caribbean. I received inspiration from the sun, the sand and the coasts. I got some much needed rest and ate delicious foods. The best part is that I didn’t gain any weight and I looked great in my swimsuits.
As usual, I received the common question – “Are you here by yourself?” And I was proud to say ‘yes’. But that always leads to – “You don’t have a boyfriend?” The answer is ‘no’. The follow up is then – “You are too pretty to be by yourself.” I replied, ‘Thank you. Would you like to tell that to the men where I’m from?’ The truth is that I would never go anywhere if I waited to have a relationship first. I’ve been told my men and women that I don’t have a man because I’m too independent and that doesn’t allow a man to do anything for me. I think that is an excuse for men not to step up and try something new.
Personally, I’m not interested in someone who doesn’t want to leave the city they were born in, or is too afraid to board an airplane or otherwise step out of their comfort zone. I shouldn’t be expected to wait to be partnered up with a man in order to enjoy living. The idea that you have to wait to live is ridiculous. I would much rather explore this entire planet alone, than wait for someone to explore it with who may or may not exist. The possibility that I may not a boyfriend or husband anytime soon, isn’t a negative mindset; it is embracing a reality. It is a self-assessment. I refuse to be a little old lady that waited and waited to live her life, just to wake up one day and discover that her life is almost over. If that means that I travel every winter by myself, I can live with that.
I enjoyed my “me” time. I enjoyed turning heads and being rebellious against hotel’s request. I enjoyed walking on the beach, riding a horse in the ocean, wearing a bathing suit instead of clothes, and wearing no makeup. I enjoyed the shopping, eating, sightseeing and being flirted with by Caribbean men. I enjoyed my trip tremendously.
I enjoy my “me” time. I enjoy living life. I’m looking forward to doing it more often…even if I have to do it alone.