I’m on vacation at a Club Med in Florida. This is day 1
The man in the brown suit wrung his hands like he was out of a cartoon. His nails and hair were too long, but he had the most delightful southern burr.
“This is the last stand for the mask mandate, so feel free to take those off.” He said jovially, shoving our luggage in the back of a large, black SUV. I kept mine on. My partner’s dad, who, along with his second wife, her children, and grandchildren, are on vacation in Flordia. My partner’s father is a physician and psychotherapist. I’ve been to his home before and it’s massive, uncomfortably so. Out of curiosity, I looked up the price of one night at an all-inclusive resort.
My partner comes from money and it’s not always an easy thing in our relationship. I grew up in a home where the electricity was off for 9 months, then on for a few weeks once we stole it, and then back off. Family vacations were for white people and doctors.
“I’m a doctor and I believe in science, so I’ll be keeping my mask on,” J said. The air, humid and warm, hummed with the awkwardness. Whenever this happens, I feel a need to break it.
“So I guess we can climb on in?” I cut in, smiling all the while. We’ve been up since 5 am, and traveling for 6 hours. I was over it. I climbed in the back seat of the SUV and prayed no one would try to make conversation. but J had to atone for his sharp tone, so I rode to our destination, a Club Med, to the murmur of polite chitchat. My most hated thing. Not because I'm bad at it, I’m damn good at it, but I hate providing that comfort to others when silence is too large, too complicated of a thing to sit with.
We are dropped off at a circular drive, and palm trees are everywhere. I remind myself to breathe in warm air, to center myself as best as I can. On a family vacation, there are expectations. My partner’s, dad’s wife’s, daughter (Step sister???) is enthusiastic and has covered the surface of a table next to the outdoor reception area with drinks for us. I gratefully reach for a margarita and thank her, chit-chatting the whole while. I down it. We go to cheers after the paperwork is done, my partner and I wear wrist bands that will get us our drinks, works as a door key, and otherwise identify us as guests. My glass is drained when I cheer and I laugh it off.
I am weary.
A joke is made that in retrospect, wouldn't;t have been made had I been in the Black or queer company. I run damage control, smoothing feathers before anyone else catches on, or notices. I don’t want this right away. Changing in our spacious room, I rush to a buffet-style dinner, taking full advantage of the open bar the entire night.
It is warm and my pixie cut floofs to attention at the humidity and I don't fucking care. I don’t care to appear coiffed and perfect in front of an audience of mostly, well-to-do white people in Florida. They can choke. Tensions flare and dissipate. I ask my partner as we walk and explore the grounds if he’s used to this: family vacations, wealth. It’s been years since the last time he’s done this, but I was more so asking if he saw me: someone who thought this whole concept was bananas, crazy town at least.
We walk to the marina and there are windows with square brick glass in the office building. It’s quiet and there is a laundry area. Clutching my drink, I rip down my shorts, (a wonder in November) and pee all over the grass. I both adore and hate this place. My wildness is pounding against its cage’s bars, asking me to cause a scene.
Here. Here now. Fuck a stranger. Kiss someone. Live. Live. Live. Live right now. Jump in the water. Rebel against all this. The old white men in khakis, balding, and hunched. The younger white men reeking of cologne and wearing stupid polo shirts. The handful of minorities who look quickly away from you. Rebel, make it loud.
Walking barefoot back to our room in the rain, I toss my drink into a palm tree. It is not enough. I want to smash this small haven. I rebuke the digestible entertainment, young 20-something women and Black men in costume gyrating to radio hits from 2016. It is grotesque in its ridiculousness.
“When you told me your family often traveled to Mexico for Thanksgiving, I thought you were ‘roughing it’ a little. Having an authentic experience.”
“I’ve been to the club med in Mexico like 5 times.”
Reader, while an open bar and buffets are magical, nothing beats a shitty hotel in a place where you can only communicate enough to get by. Nothing beats that sense of helplessness followed by a determination to figure out your day. The moment when a local invites you along to their favorite watering hole, all-year-round Xmas lights dangling and stranger’s faces illuminated in red.
I want the authenticity that I have felt at queer dance parties. My Blackness and sexuality are on display and held. I don’t want eyes on me that haven’t seen and held Blackness with care or familiarity. I am no one’s first time.
Tomorrow is an early breakfast. My only wish is to read and write and sleep and drink. Tomorrow, I will write again.