Ah yes, it happens in even the most passionate relationships. The spark goes out. The red-hot sizzle you once enjoyed together now resembles something more like a wet napkin upon which you’ve rested your Cuba Libre at happy hour. Soggy, unappealing, utterly useless. The irresistible pull you once felt now feels more like a suffocating grip from which you cannot extricate yourself.
You might manage to ignore the signals for a while and pretend that everything is just absolutely fine. After all, change is hard. But eventually, you have to face facts and ask yourself…
What’s an island girl to do when she falls out of love with her rock?
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time living on an island, you eventually ask yourself this question. Even the sunniest and most committed of us do. It can’t be helped. It is as much a part of the rock experience as sundowners, beach days, and standing in long lines.
And it is at this point, my friends, in the most trying of times, when the proverbial wheat is separated from the chaff. When crown-wearing Island Girls are weeded out from those who are just dabbling with the title.
So what do you do when the object that once stole your heart now threatens to crush it into tiny bits?
If you believe deep down that this is a relationship you don’t want to resuscitate one more time, then it is time to pack it in and embark on the next adventure. Maybe that’s returning home. Maybe it’s heading off into the wild blue yonder. Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in moving on. After all, there’s nothing sadder than a bitter, angry woman on a rock.
But if you think you’ve got at least one more go-round left in you with your island crush – and you’re willing to give it another shot – then read on. Based on my years of going through this excruciating (yet entirely predictable) cycle, there are 7 requisite steps to keeping the spark alive with your rock of choice.
1. Buy a Plane Ticket
This is non-negotiable. You need to get off your island. There’s no way to regain your perspective on your honest feelings about the oasis you call home unless you put a few miles between the two of you. Many thousands of miles, actually. Island hopping is not enough. Not nearly enough.
2. Lay Low
Once you have a departure date to look forward to, adopt a very low profile. This serves two purposes: One, it saves you money so that you have more to spend while you’re away (hello, Target!!); Two, it saves your fellow island friends from listening to you repeatedly mentioning your imminent escape. Trust me, it gets old to them. Especially if they don’t have their own plane ticket in hand.
3. Count The Days
Make the most of the days between now and wheels up. Dust off your suitcase. Dig out your passport. Try and find those cool weather clothes you know you have stored somewhere. They may or may not have inexplicable holes in them, so it is good to learn this prior to the night before you’re supposed to depart. But if you have a housemate (especially a significant other not joining you on your escapade), do all of this discreetly. Nobody who is not joining you wants a daily reminder of your imminent departure.
4. Wave Good-Bye
But don’t be smug, especially if your significant other is dropping you at the airport. While you may feel like you won the lottery as you get comfortable in your seat and watch the island landscape rapidly disappear from view, your partner might be mildly wondering if you’ll decide not to return. It is critical not to create the impression that this may be the case. Even if you have secretly entertained such thoughts.
5. Enjoy Your Time Away
Gather with friends. Visit family. Shop ’til you drop. Eat all the food you can’t get on your rock. Go stand in the very brief line at the bank just for the thrill of enjoying first-world efficiency. In short, do whatever floats your boat and satisfies your craving for the normalcy you once took for granted. Repeat for as many days as your getaway lasts. Yay! Feels good to be in familiar territory, doesn’t it? Also feels good not to sweat while engaging in the activities of daily life, right?
6. Get “Rock-sick”
No matter how enjoyable your temporary escape is (and it will be!), all good things must come to an end. For me, the optimal time away is around two weeks. After that, I start to long for my easy-going, island routine. The ocean, the kitesurfing, the casual approach to having a cold beer in my vehicle’s cup holder. When I start thinking about the things I miss back in the tropics (and grow tired of wearing socks), it is then that I start looking forward to my return flight.
7. Be Grateful When You Return
There’s nothing sweeter than the feeling of being home. And I get it every single time I catch my first glimpse of the familiar landscape of my chosen rock. Never mind the endless hassles of trying to get anything bureaucratic done. Forget the soggy days of sweating through simple tasks. Suddenly the empty grocery store shelves, incessant heat, mosquitos, and Saharan dust that blankets every surface don’t look so bad.
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It is at this point that I know my ongoing relationship with my island (no matter how much it was faltering) is one worth nurturing back to good health. At least one more time. After all, the best relationships always require work – and an island isn’t any different.
How do you fall back in love with your island when your emotions about it are on the rocks?