What does it mean to you? How much have you come to depend on it? What, if anything, does it do to improve your life? These and many more questions center around our beloved message board.

I think that sometimes we may take the MB for granted. Every day hundreds perhaps thousands, rely on this silent conveyor of information, advise, support and solidarity of all things Couples. And although we all agree that Couples is our place in the sun, a sanctuary of respite, an island of incredible enjoyment and relaxation, as we scan the words from each enthusiastic visitor, there is certainly a difference of opinion as to which resort is best. Or who has the best beach? Where can I find some shade? Which restaurant is your favorite? The answers are as varied as the people who ask the questions.

I suppose, first and foremost, the MB binds us in a way that is quite unique. We all come from such different backgrounds, different parts of the country or the world. But as each person scrolls down seeking their own brand of satisfaction, this modern marvel of our electronic cyberspace, almost always leaves us smiling. We read about who is going where, who did what with whom, when is the next trip? From the novice first timer, to the repeaters, to the ones that read but seldom, if ever, post, there is definitely a great deal of information that is exchanged every day. I think that most of us would agree, the MB quickly becomes an absolute daily necessity to look forward to as often as each of us can get to it.

It may have originally started out to be a way to talk of all things connected with the four gorgeous and very unique Caribbean women, but as we read day after day, year in and year out, the marvelous magical mountain of ideas and thoughts, has taken on a life of its own.

We can't wait to click on every day, or every few hours, to savor the printed word that has excitement, vivid descriptions and heartfelt feelings. Our eyes dart from one word to another while the brain tries to absorb everything and makes sense of it all. We anxiously await each time the board is "refreshed". Week-ends can be especially difficult because we have read everything and now must wait until Monday rolls around and the monitors that now have new letters to check out, give their stamp of approval, and pass along the next piece of our tropical treasure.

I think that the board serves a number of purposes. For Couples, it is a fantastic free marketing tool. Well, maybe it isn't completely free. But whatever it costs Couples for their time and energy, it results in their gaining all of our opinions about each resort, activity, what's good and what's not. They listen. Or should I say read as to how we feel about about policies they may introduce. Or changes that may occur. Sometimes there is immediate polarization of the respondents. Strong feelings for and against. Often times, we may not like a new rule and we certainly let them know about it. Or we fall in love with the next promotion and again, we let them know. Our responses may not get them to retract what some of us may feel has changed how things will be done, or what the restaurants will be serving, or the new colors and styles of the recently renovated gem of the tropics. Many people say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Change can be a tough thing to get used to. On the other hand, when the idea was put forth concerning the possibility of a change in the smoking policy, they did hear how we felt and have, for the time being, left things the way they were. Couples is genuinely concerned as to how their guests feel for both the good and the bad.

For those of us that post almost every day, we too can gauge the moods of other would be travelers. There is a great exchange of fellow members so that each couple who is getting ready for their upcoming trip, will have a better idea of what is or isn't or should be. Granted, some of the questions have been asked and answered more times than we can count. I have seen posts that seem to indicate to those asking something for the umpteenth time, that they first "should have looked at the facts page". They seem to have an air of indignity. They don't appear to have the time or patience or kindness to, once again, explain to someone how they can do this or that. And I guess that's okay. I just wish there were less "scolding" or "anger" displayed by someone who is responding.

One of the greatest assets for the board is being able to scroll through all the answers and feel very much a part of the larger picture. We can offer support to an individual who may be having financial difficulties, or medical problems or the untimely and painful loss of a family member. And that includes our pets as well. We can let someone know that "I too have that situation and I understand how you must be feeling". We may point to a place or a book or some source they may not have been aware of, and help ease their sorrow or their discomfort. We can rally around a "family member" who just wants to understand that all is not lost. We all know of many incidents that we send our best wishes, congratulations or reassurance that all is not lost. We are able to let them know "we are here for you". It is very comforting indeed.

We send in our stories, jokes, pictures, antidotes and so much more. We are almost as happy and full of glee for someone who "leaves in five days". Or we read with great joy of a couple who has just returned from "the most incredible time ever". We were in their shoes, or may sandals, and we know just how they feel. It is also reassuring to some "newbie" who may be hesitant to book their first trip. But after reading of our opinions, they feel so much more confident and they too know that they will have the time of their lives.

This marvelous lifeline allows for a great range of subjects that may not always be specifically "Couples related". I know that there have been those that feel that the MB is just for "Couples related" subjects. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinions and that this causes them to drift away from participating in this open forum. That would truly be a loss to all of us. There are always more travelers that find this board and like what they read.

Once someone discovers this open pathway to ask and be answered, it quickly becomes something that many of us can not get enough of. It is very habit forming. But in a good way. It makes us feel a part of a very exclusive organization. The only requirement for joining is the love of Couples. If, for some terrible reason this medium were to become disconnected, it would be almost devastating. There would be overwhelming loneliness. An emptiness and void that nothing could replace. Having a day without the ability to express what is on our minds or read of others concerns, would make us feel less whole. To not be able to have the exchange of the daily updates is really unfathomable. It's bad enough when the week-end arrives and there are no new posts. I shudder to think of how I would react to anything less than the five passionate full days that we have now. To touch and be touched.

Sometimes when the flow of new posts becomes just a trickle, some of us will re-read old writings. Or we may check out one of the Meet-up threads of one of the resorts that we have no real interest in. Anything to get us through the long period of time while we await the next new post.

By reading of others experiences, we make friends that we may see on one of our trips. Some of these friendships last for a very long time. We realize that we have a lot more in common than just Couples.

There is much to be said for this avenue of articulation. Do you suppose it's possible to love this inanimate object? I think the resounding answer would be yes. It gives us pleasures far beyond what we may write. We are connected. We are family.

So here's to our daily participation on this board. I give thanks to the men and women who take the time to be involved in this way. Thanks also to the monitors who do their part that we may remain connected. It is a win win situation.

See you next time on the board.

Richie