The bright orange pumpkin in front of an unlit house would read, “Please only take one,” and I did, always. When the speed limit said 55mph, I drove 53mph. The stakes, big or small, were rules, and rules were meant to be followed. There were times I wondered what was off the beaten path, but I could get in trouble! By whom you ask? I’m not exactly sure but the mysterious they would surely find out and somewhere a gold star would be peeled away from my chart.
Packing for vacation, I made sure my bag weighed a little under the 50lb limit, to be safe. My boyfriend Josh and I were off to Saint Thomas, the Virgin Islands. It was not an exotic destination, but it was perfect for what I needed – a break from the exhausting 50 hour work weeks. Or, perhaps, a break from the everyday rules to which I so desperately clung.
We arrived to the hotel and grabbed the daily itinerary. On the top there was a quote, “Welcome to Paradise, let loose.” I smiled and folded the paper into my purse. It was 3:00PM and we were exhausted from the flight (a 5 hour layover will do that to you) so we napped and had a nice evening of dinner and drinks. The next day, I eagerly awoke and grabbed the day’s activities. 7:00AM Yoga with the Sun. That was out of the question. It was already 9AM and my idea of vacation was not exercise. 10:00AM Scuba Dive Lesson. 10:00AM Iguana Feeding. I absolutely adore animals and so it was a no brainer. We hightailed it to the buffet to eat before the real feeding.
It was exactly 9:50AM by the time we finished the last sip of coffee. We headed down to the trail where we would meet the local animal guide. 10:00AM no sign of the tour guide. 10:03AM other travelers arrive. 10:07AM crowd grows restless. 10:11AM crowd ditches the feeding and heads into the lunch dining area. By 10:15AM I could see the scuba instructor going into the deep end of the pool with 3 beginners and felt a tinge of regret; clearly our guide was out today. I bent down to snap some pictures of the green scaly monsters and was ready to be on my way, when one of the other travelers ran back with a bin full of day old lettuce leaves. He put the bin on a big rock, grabbed a handful and walked over to his own corner to feed the fiends.
I took a few greens and tossed them into the air. An army of iguanas came running – their legs spastically waddling as they raced to the food. In no time, I was surrounded. Just as I was about to pet one, a sign caught my eye. Do not get too close to the iguanas. I hesitated. My life was one big rulebook.
I looked around and saw nothing but paradise. I thought back to the first day’s itinerary and I kneeled down. The iguanas swarmed me and crawled onto my knees, and I felt myself let loose the months of work and deadlines. More importantly, I felt my grip to the rulebook loosening.
It seems miniscule. How could only five iguanas break years of a habit? But it was not just them. They led the revolt but they had backup.
A few nights later Josh and I passed an empty hall. The door was cropped open and we peeked inside. All the chairs were on top of the tables for the workers to vacuum but the dance floor was vacant. Even though there was no music, and it was not kosher to my rulebook, we went inside and danced in a room of emptiness. It was a romantic moment that I will always look back on and smile. That very same night we entered a newlywed’s game. We’re not married but my state of mind allowed me to stretch the boundaries. We took home 2nd prize and a belly full of laughter. On the very last day Josh got his bracelet cut off but I hid my arm under my purse. We ate one more all-inclusive sandwich from the buffet.
When I write about this, I hope that readers understand how big a step this has been for me. Yes these are victimless crimes, but to me, each one opens a new door. This one travel experience allowed me to forever see, beyond the yellow tape.
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