It had been such a long time since I had seen her. Almost a year and a half. That's the longest we have ever been apart. I think about her all the time. It's worse at night. There have been so many sleepless nights, lying there, staring at the ceiling in a pitch black room. The emptiness that I felt was, at times, unbearable. Even though I knew that we would be seeing each other soon. It was maddening. I never forgot about her. Not that I could even if I tried. All I have for consolation are the pictures we took together when last we met. There have been countless hours spent looking at each and every one. One of my favorite pictures is the one where she is standing alone, gazing out to the ocean. She is bathed in pure white. Overhead, the robins egg blue sky has small puffy white clouds. The warm Jamaican sun is sparkling as it reflects her grace, elegance, warmth and a charm that only she posses. My gracious lady. I missed you so.
In my sadness, in hopes of finding another like her, I visited with one of her younger siblings. The newest sister to join the family. Some people call her Couples Sans Souci, but we just call her CSS. She is indeed beautiful. Peaceful and serene. The property is impeccably cared for. There is lushness and beauty ever where. And Sunset Beach? Awesome!!
Even though I had told myself that I would not do the comparing thing. I planned on remaining completely objective and impartial. I failed miserably. At first, I didn't mention anything to Syl right away. But the voices in my head were already starting to mumble. I needed all of my strength and cunningness to stay the whole ten days. In the end, we both agreed that we had a really great time. Okay, we both agreed that we had an alright time. Probably somewhere in between. One thing was clear to both of us, we probably would not be going back to CSS in the foreseeable future. No, our hearts and souls belong to an other. A woman without equal. I miss her comforting embrace. I miss her ambiance and aroma.
It passed to last April. The time had finally arrived. We were coming home. As we prepared for our adventure, all appeared to be routine. Packing, shlepping the suitcases, plane ride, landing, customs, and on and on. Just routine as we had done so many times before. As we came around the corner, the spacious Couples lounge became visible. Soon, we would be back to a place we we love. All my frustrations and anxiety would soon be satiated. Suddenly, without any warning, I began to get this feeling. It started in my legs. They became weak and wobbly. My head began to throb and I became dizzy. Syl said to me, "Rich, are you okay"? I nodded and gave her the okay sign, but she didn't buy it. Frankly, neither did I. I found a place to sit down. I was sweating and Syl told me that I was pale. What the hell is going on with me? First things first. I got a Red Stripe. Feeling better already. Within about ten minutes, things were getting back to normal,what ever that is. "Hey Syl", I said. "I think I have it figured out". "Have what figured out", she replied. I was feeling anxious and nervous, like a teenager on his first date. After all, I hadn't seen my hostess for a long time and wanted everything to go just right. Syl tried to assure me that it would be okay. I wanted desperately to believe her.
There were three other couples on the bus from MoBay. All of them first timers. They had lots of questions. Syl and I were more than happy to answer them. It helped pass the time. Before we knew it, we were there. We waved to the security person, went over the speed bump, up the driveway, around the rotary, and came to a stop under the portico. Syl and I were holding hands. We looked at each other, then gave each other a big hug. "We're home", I whispered in her ear. Tears were streaming down my face. One look at Syl and you could tell that she was just as filled with exuberance as I. As we wiped away the tears, we stepped out of the bus and onto hallowed ground. The first thing I did, was go over to the large round cement pillar near the entrance, and I kissed it. Yup. I gave that inanimate object a big smooch. "I'm really happy to be home" I said quietly. Once again, the tears flooded my face.
In that moment of sheer ecstasy, my mind was on complete overload. Sounds. Sights. Smells. All flooding in to my sensory organs. As each bit of stimulation reached the proper receptor in my brain, my entire body was awash in a drug like state of euphoria. I was unprepared for what I saw. I had looked at all the artists rendering of what the new resort would look like. I had studied every detail. Knew all the color schemes. In my mind, I had walked the paths around the grounds and saw the glow of the candles on the tables at night. I thought that I was prepared to see my lady once again, with all of the changes that had occurred. I was not. Being face to face completely blew me away.
The physical beauty that we were faced with was just incredible. We were drawn to all of the new colors and textures. Glass and art work. Furniture and flooring. I stood there with my mouth wide open. My eyes looked like saucers. I couldn't even move my body. The only thing functioning with independent movement were my eyes. They darted from one thing to another. Like a hummingbird as it seeks out its nectar. The sign in desk. The floor. The artwork behind Ava's desk. The ceiling. The wall of glass with sliding doors that led out to the patio.
As I began to get some feeling back in my arms and legs, I heard a voice that I recognized right away. "Richie rich, mon", the voice echoed in the lobby. "Captain Kirk!!", I yelled. Huge smiles on both our faces. As we moved toward each other, another voice rang out. "Richie,mon", Byron called to me. Now the three of us are all headed for each other. We meet with lots of hugging, laughing, handshaking, back patting, more laughing. At that precise moment, still smiling and talking, embracing as we were, it was crystal clear to me, where I was. I was home. From that moment on, for the rest of our stay, I knew that this comfortable, warm, safe, loving environment that was enveloping me, was my nirvana.
Before I could say another word, out of the corner of my eye, I saw LaToya, Ava and Gretchen. Their beautiful smiles and outstretched arms greeted me. LaToya looked down at my feet. "You still don't have any shoes on", she pointed out.I always take my sneakers off on the bus, hardly put anything else on my feet for the rest of the stay. I too glanced down at my bare digits and said with laugh and a grin, "I haven't changed". And we both laughed again. A hug and kiss, given and received, and Ava is right there for more hugging, some kisses, lots of smiling. "Welcome home" she says. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said, "Oh, Ava. It feels wonderful to be here". "What do you think of everything new"? she continued. "I am blown away", I said. "Absolutely, blown away". I turned toward Gretchen. Each of us had our arms outstretched and when we met, we hugged. Wonderful hugs. That's what Tommy says all the time.
Midsts all the greeting and laughing and yadda yadda, somehow we managed to get checked in, and we were now heading down the wonderfully familiar corridor to our room. 4503 As we reach the elevator, Byron informs us that the elevator is not working. They had been trying to fix it for a few hours. The thought of having to walk up and down five flights of stairs was certainly unappealing. But then, what are the alternatives? Try to get another room? That would be difficult. Many of the rooms were not ready for occupancy. So for the time being, we all walked up the five flights. Worse still, Byron had to shlep the bags up too.
Tired, sweaty and thirsty, we reach the door to our boudoir. New colors, new art work, new flat screen T.V., a no line shower. Nice, very very nice. I opened the sliding glass door and stepped out on to the patio. I called to Sylvia. "Hey Syl, come out here for a minute". We stood there leaning on the railing, one arm around each other, looking at the magic that was all around us. Again, we were overcome with emotions. We were home.
We stayed outside for a while. Our room overlooks the brand new pool and swim up bar. Lime green chaise lounges, neatly placed side by side, line the perimeter. At one end of the pool is the swim up bar. Most of the people in the pool, were sitting at the bar. At the other end , there is a planting of three full size palm trees. One of them leans precariously toward the pool. As we stood there, in complete silence, looking at the newness, tears of joy,contentment and extreme happiness roll down our cheeks,splashing on my bare feet.Truly a Couples magical moment. After all the planning and arranging and saving, not to mention the very painful wait we had to endure, the first few moments in the room always give me a an exhilarating rush. Whether you are a "newbie" or an oldie, first trip or 26th, the thrill is the same. You are home. All is good.
We stayed for two weeks this time. Usually we stay for ten days. This was a real treat. Not only that, this trip of all the trips we have made, was in the top three. To see some of our friends that we have known for years, and to meet new people that soon turned into new friends. In fact, we named ourselves the April Amigos. That's just what we were. Many of the Amigos have already booked for April 2010. I'm getting my luggage ready.
It was more than I could have ever imagined. I was so pleased to see my kind gentle lady of the cove. Her colors are outstanding. The decor was first class. Food and drink, delectable. Staff, well that goes without saying. But I'll say it anyway. Loudly and with great feelings of admiration for the heart and soul of the old COR and the new CTI, the staff. They are the gatekeepers and stewards of a resort that spans more than six generations.
Although her name was changed and she looked quite different than before, even with all the new colors, new dining areas, new play areas, gorgeous new spa for the beleaguered traveler, I was not fooled for a minute. I knew it the moment I laid eyes on her. I heard her voice in each and every staff person that spoke to me. And I felt her warm embrace everywhere. "Welcome home", she says with a smile, "Welcome home".