~ By Anne Kemp
There once was a little girl who dreamed in Technicolor of the life she wanted when she was older. The best and most favorite of her dreams were the ones where she was running away to an island so she could write a book. She knew it was hokey and farfetched, but one cannot help what they dream, or as they say, “the heart wants what the heart wants.”
This same little girl had a vision of her life on the island. There was a small, crooked bamboo shack right on the beach, flip-flops freshly kicked off tanned feet and tossed haphazardly by the front door, askew in the fine powder-white sand. And just a few steps away from her front door were the crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean. To the left of the little shack was a hammock strung between two palm trees, joined at the root in a perfect union. It was there the girl knew she would rest while swaying in the breeze and brooding over her next projects, while on break from hunching over her typewriter working on the next great American novel.
Now, let’s fast-forward 30 years:
The same little girl with the big dreams has packed a bag, sublet her apartment and has clutched in her grasp a one-way ticket to St. Kitts. She’s moving in with her 26 year-old nephew who’s going to vet school while she figures out her next steps after being laid-off right before the Christmas holiday. She’s also still freshly bruised from a relationship that ended quite suddenly and out of nowhere just a few months prior. This girl with her big dreams had strayed somewhere along the way and needed to find them again.
So she went to the islands, because for once…she just could. It scared her to leave the familiar but she needed to get out of her comfort zone and take a risk in the unknown. What she got there was like nothing she ever imagined.
Instead of a little shack on the beach, she was staying (gratefully) in a one-bedroom apartment on an air mattress – at 36 years old, this was quite the bold move on her part. Next to her air mattress, which was in the middle of her nephew’s living room, was a litter box that said nephew had issues with cleaning. It soon became part of her daily chores to make sure it stayed fresh.
Now, since it’s 2012 and there really aren’t any typewriters handy these days, she packed her MacBook in her carry-on bag and proceeded to begin her newest chapter. (Traveler’s side-note: thank goodness she didn’t have a typewriter she needed to haul from LA to the Caribbean. Considering the price of extra baggage these days, her severance pay would have been spent in line at the ticket counter!)
Her new residence wasn’t a few steps from the beach but close enough to get to it on foot. Even in the most terrible heat or on the worst of days, she knew she had that gorgeous Caribbean blue water oh-so-close-by in case of an emergency. There were even a few nights were she ended up swimming in those gorgeous waters with fun new friends until the wee hours of the morning…a feat not attempted since the 90s. It was to the point on one occasion that her obviously more responsible nephew was found on the shore begging her to “please come in! It’s 4 AM!”
There was a hammock and it was amazing. The girl loved to sit in it and think…until it broke while she was swinging in it one day, spitting her out of it’s woven embrace like a scorned lover and knocking the wind from her lungs in the rudest fashion. While still loving hammocks and swings and such, the girl vowed she wouldn’t lie in one again…unless it was super-glued for stability.
Her lesson? That life is never what we think it’s going to be. While she was making other plans, she forgot to sit back and let the fates take their course for her.
Life is more than a daily to-do list. Instead it’s a day at a time, and it is made up of a series of beautiful accidents that if we were to attempt to plan them, we’d never see those plans come to fruition.
The girl always wanted to write a book while living on an island. And guess what?
Anne Kemp is the author of the Abby George Series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and first novel, Rum Punch Regrets, which is out Friday May 25th! Please visit her at www.AnneKemp.com for more information. You can follow her on Twitter: @MissAnneKemp of become a fan on Facebook.