When the ship goes down, you better look around and see who is right beside you. Those who you spot with a life vest, in a dingy, mouthing you ‘Good Luck’ are ones to go ahead and mark off your Christmas card list. If you make it to next Christmas, that is.  Those that have vest on, and say, ‘Grab me, I got you!’ Those are the peeps you never let go of.

This was made very clear to me on a trip taken to Ambergris Caye in June, 2014. A trip that came to define my life. At least this particular era of my life. It started a year before, back in August 2013, when Alexa got married to her ‘lovie’ Jamie in a magical and mystical experience in Belize, complete with Woodland nymphs {oh wait, that was me}. There was a flautist, who we are all still convinced is Marc Anthony’s much less famous and talented brother. There was snorkeling with sharks, the amazing Palapa bar, where we could hang out in intertubes and get drinks lowered to us in buckets, or upstairs, where you could play your own playlist and twerk with the bartenders behind the bar. There was drunken sleuthing with Simone… My guess is, if Simone ever does go into business as a P.I., she will not call and offer Tracie, nor I, positions. It was the trip of a lifetime. So much so, that we could not stop talking about it. And six of us migrated back 10 months later…

Three couples. The lovely bride and groom, me and my then husband, and Ashleigh and Daryl. Some of Alexa’s good friends went down as well, and were staying in a condo just across from us.

Night one.

We get situated and immediately start looking for food and drinks. We have heard there is a place ‘just down the beach from us’ and we start off down the road. We found it, it was great. We met, what I am fairly confident is, a 10-year-old cocaine drug lord who is from America and whose parents own a breakfast joint just down the road. We decide to walk back closer to the beach on the way back, and just around the corner there are three men standing with machetes. I screamed and jumped towards the water. They never moved. We went back to our place and continued to drink. And then we decided to go have a dancing contest on the pier. It was then that a guy on his bike and an older gentleman come down our private pier with, a huge machete. I’m a little nervous at this point, but the old man, who offers a joint and says his name is Mr. P, calms my nerves a little. At least I’m now more confidant they aren’t planning to cut us up and feed us to the fish. Then the young guy explains they own a snorkeling company two piers down, and they were simply going to fish. I ask them where their fishing poles were, and they laughed. The young guy, Nahuel, pulled out a beer bottle, a string and some bait, and taught us how to fish without poles. Ashleigh makes plans around 4 am to go snorkeling ‘in the morning.’

At 10 am the last thing I feel like doing is getting on a boat. Our host show up with rum punch, which wasn’t going to sit well with me. Right after we pull away, I feel sick. Instead of returning me to the shore, my friends drop me off in the ocean. On a house boat. Nahuel assures me he knows the workers and ‘everything will go real smooth.’ I watch my friends get smaller and smaller as the boat drives off.  I can barely stand. I crouch down, where the water is meeting the floating vessel and start throwing up. Then a man comes to stand over me. My life starts to flash before me, and I’m sure this is not going to end well… He reaches down, and hands me a water. Tells me he hopes I feel better. I mean to say thank you, but roll over and puke instead. Several fish swim up to eat. My barf. Which makes me get sicker, which draws more fish. All I can here is the Jaw’s theme music playing over and over in my head, when, what feels like hours later, I finally hear the roar of the motor of the boat my friends are on. I am fairly convinced I have narrowly escaped death three times already, and start telling everyone we are about to be the topic of a Dateline story. Then I go on a long diatribe about how much I hate Stone Phillips and he better not be the anchor. I stand by that rant.

The following day we decide to relax and hang out at our favorite bar, the Palapa. It was at that bar that something in me changed forever. It started out with us girls joking around, a joke was taken the wrong way, and my husband did not find the joke amusing. At all. I started crying and went upstairs with the girls, who did what best girlfriends do best. They listened, we talked, the bartender who remembered us from twerking behind the bar a year earlier, came up and ask us if we wanted anything, and at 3 pm, we decided to order lunch. My husband came upstairs right about the time my hamburger was delivered. More fighting ensued, and Alexa, or maybe it was Ashleigh jumped up and said, ‘That’s ENOUGH! You will not speak to her like that!’ He went back downstairs and I will never forget looking out at that ocean. It was gorgeous. Beyond gorgeous. And my husband and I could not get along. At all. And just like that, I knew in an instant it was over and there was no going back. I started to cry and Alexa wrapped her arms around me. ‘Are you okay?’ ‘No. No I am not okay. If we can’t be happy together in paradise… It’s over.’ And it was. It had been for a long time, but for whatever reason, that moment in time, I knew there was no going back or ‘fixing’ us.

And I am in no way blaming my ex for anything, it was just a fight, we’d had millions of fights at that point, some were his fault, some were my fault, some were both of our faults.

And I can tell you this, I have about 6 friends who I know I could count on for anything. The kind who know all your secrets and love you even more because of them. Ashleigh and Alexa are two of those people in my life. Thanks for always being my life raft.



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