With our golf days finally behind us, the only thing on our agenda was the last of our resort credits. We decided to use them for a 50 minute deep tissue massage, which was well earned by that point. I was in a bit of negative head space that morning following a minor argument that morning, so going into my massage I was feeling distant, pulled back at arm’s length from the experience.
Whenever I am on the receiving end of criticism, even well-deserved or extremely minor, I tend to have the same reaction. It sets off a chain reaction in my mind, evoking every negative thought or comment that’s ever been committed to memory, my head swirling with condemnation, sadness and the proverbial inner pity party. Oblivious to the masseuse working over the well-forged knots of anxiety, frustration and stress that I had carefully curated over my adult life, I began to quietly well up with tears face down on the table.
At times, I tried to calm myself, but overall I figured this would be the one hour of the trip where I would be mostly alone, undisturbed with my thoughts, save the massage therapist who spoke practically no English. I quietly cried as much as I wanted, unembarrassed of the growing snot and slop pooling beneath my head on the floor. Eventually, the massage was over, and I got dressed. I felt better having had the massage, but even more so was the relief of finally having a place to really cry where no one would be sticking their concerned face too close to mine, asking the most hated of all questions, “Are you okay?”
Before I left, I mopped up the mess I had made on the floor by the table, not wanting the massage therapist to know I had been crying. He probably wouldn’t know what to make of it, and frankly, it was easier to simply wipe it up before anyone else could see. I greeted him outside the room and he presented me with some tea. I sat quietly, blind without my glasses, staring off into space until he finished pulling the linens from the table and clearing it for the next person.
I met my husband afterward, and my mood was markedly improved. Save the bit of scratchiness in my throat, which I chalked up to breathing through my mouth for my massage, I was feeling pretty good. We decided to walk over to the VIP area of the beach to meet our group. They seemed surprised that we decided to join them, since our golf and other activities kept us busy for the other days we had been here. But since some of them were off to their own massages and spa treatments, a few chairs opened up.
I settled on one that seemed well covered by all the umbrellas, wrapping my legs in a long white beach towel to keep the sun off and pulled out my travel journal to begin updating my notes about the trip thus far. I must have written for hours, as I tend to do, getting lost in my head and attempting to document all the details of my trip for you, my dear reader.
At one point, I noticed a member of our group craning her neck to read what I was writing. I was a bit put off my this, as I had always considered this type of behavior to be extremely rude. Considering that I am also a coward and don’t often call people out directly for rudeness, I felt compelled to explain that I was writing my travel journal. I did not offer to share what I had written, but did start to move my position so that she could no longer make out what I was writing.
After that, I was pretty much left alone to document my thoughts. My cursive script is pretty small and sort of difficult to make out from a distance, so I had hoped that she’d not be able to read what I was writing. At that point, I had been journaling about golf so there was nothing juicy to be read in it. Still, her effort to read it, the unabashed silent neck craning until the feeling of being watched registered in my radar and I caught her eyes on my page, it bothered me.
I reached a point where I felt I was satisfactorily caught up, and put the notebook away. I decided I could indulge in cocktail for all my efforts, and ordered a tequila sunrise from the server who came up to the group from time to time. It was a few moments of bliss, sitting under the umbrella, feeling the cool ocean breeze against my skin, hearing the waves crashing on the man-made reef nearby, sipping on sugary, boozy bliss.
Then it happened, my vision became suddenly overwhelmed by those squiggly eye boogies that you sometimes see if you unfocus your eyes just right. They swarmed everywhere, and suddenly the scratchiness in my throat moved itself into a full hardened lump. I began to feel dizzy and knew that I needed to get out of the sun. Fortunately, the group was beginning to pack up. Our group dinner was in less than an hour, and it was time to begin getting ready.
We left and went back to the room, my joints emitting a painful creaking as I stood up and tried to stretch. I felt very warm, and knew that in spite of the umbrella, the towels and sunscreen that I had applied, that I was probably now very sunburned. At the room, one glance in the mirror confirmed my suspicion, my face and neck were bright red. I deduced that my notebook may have bounced more sunlight onto my face, rendering the umbrella useless and acting like one of those cardboard reflectors that people used to use to direct sunlight to their faces.
I took a quick shower and got dressed, my sunburn now gleaming in all its crimson glory. I knew it was bad, and there was no way that I could fix it at this point. I would have to go to the dinner with a lobster face and endure the group’s subtle taunts and commentary. We arrived at the presidential suite for dinner, which was an endless parade of featured dishes from the resort’s restaurants.
What we had imagined would be a presentation of the dishes family style, was actually a plated meal that was laid before each person. This was probably a factor of the language barrier, and left a few of us scratching our heads. Not all of us had the opportunity to order beforehand, expressing our favorite dishes that we had so far to the leader of our group and leaving the ordering in her hands.
During the salad course, I was not given a plate of greens, because one was not ordered to me. It was fine however, because at that point, the fever had robbed me of my appetite in its entirety. My thoughts were now consumed with the very real possibility that I had been literally irradiated, and that I was convinced I experiencing what symptoms people who have undergone radiation treatment experience, only on a much milder scale.
I did have a small roll in front of me, and awkwardly chewed at it while the others had their salad. I began to feel something sharp and metal in between my fillings as I chewed. I was able to pull out a small, but discernible piece of metal, about a centimeter long from the roll. I showed it to the person next to me, who told me to tell the servers. I did, and it was removed from my place setting without apology or ceremony. I was a bit off put by this.
At one point, my throat began to swell a bit, the lump in the back of my mouth feeling larger and larger. As the leader began toasting various people in our party, and the egregious clinking of glasses to each person began to grow old quickly. I began to feel very warm, originally chalking it up to the sunburn on my face, but then realizing I was developing a fever.
After the toasting, the leader began telling the group about Thanksgiving, how their big anniversary was the day before the holiday this year and how they wanted all of us to be there for it. Of course, not considering that this was May, that we had done at least the last two holidays with them and neglected my husband’s mother, let alone my family. They went around the table asking if each group could attend.
Being put on the spot in this awkward moment, where you are expected to grin and comply, without respect to the other people you may have intended to spend the day with, was nonetheless complicated by the fact that I was in the midst of a severe inner panic. At that moment, I was more focused on the fact that I was fed metal, and was trying to determine at what point I could politely leave to go off and die in the corner as my fever raged in my brain. We agreed to attend, just to move forward with the conversation. It did not end there, and as the dishes were assigned again, and I was again given the hated mashed potatoes conundrum from the previous year, my body simply gave out.
Finally the main courses arrived, and the discussion of a meal six months away faded in lieu of the one laid before us. The one dish my husband asked for arrived, but it was ice cold. The second one he expressed interest in, the Asian fried rice, turned out to be Pad Thai, which he does not like. I wasn’t given an entree at all, and was left to parlay from the multitude of lobster tails that were left over. Of course, these were all tough and cold as well, but I choked them down simply to end the meal and get my opportunity to leave.
After the meal was finished, I couldn’t hold it together for much longer. I mouthed to my husband that I was leaving, not feeling well and needed to lie down. At that point, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me, since our feelings and considerations had been so blatantly ignored or treated like the most herculean of all requests (such as dining at a reasonable hour or ordering an entree for the fussy eater that he might actually enjoy). I informed the leader of the group quietly that I wasn’t well, didn’t wait for a reaction, and gave the group a quick wave goodnight.
I was now genuinely sick, feeling as though I had been hit by a truck and went straight to my room to lay down. I realized what it must have looked like, that I was possibly allergic to the shellfish, which was not true. My husband kindly explained that I wasn’t feeling well before dinner and that I needed to rest. He came to check on me later, and of course, as expected, the group huffed about my early departure, feigning concern and mostly clucking about how rude it was to leave the group meal in such a way.
The nice part about being sick was the complete and total loss of one’s body to give a fuck. At that point, I was tucked away in my bed, covered up, trying to sleep. And frankly had no interest in what anyone thought of my lack of dinner manners. Considering how I was feeling, they’re lucky I didn’t unceremoniously barf all over their happy little table and then walk out of the room without another word.