The fact that summer is my favorite season may have something to do with being a summer baby. My birthday is in a little over a week and it’s one of those that tends to define you more than others, if you know what I mean. One of the perks of a big birthday year is that people want to help you celebrate. I’m all for a celebration, especially when it’s on my terms!
When my husband asked me where I would like to go this summer for this momentous event, I considered a number of places that were on my bucket list. The problem, however, with new places is that you spend a lot of time adjusting to your new surroundings and learning how to settle into a new routine. So you can probably see where I am heading….I chose the familiar place, the one to which I feel most connected and heals my soul each time I go.
My husband and I, back in 1996, were dating the first time we went to Harbour Island. Mark was a bar tender at the South Austin Grill and his general manager, Scott Shaw, gave him the recommendation. We affectionately called this vacation “Dive Camp.” We went with Bill Butcher and his wife Karen — some of you may have heard of a little project they started called Port City Brewing. At night we played cards, drank our fair share of Kaliks, and during the day we studied our manuals and prepared for our series of dives. I’m quite sure we did at least 10 dives on that trip — a current cut, a night dive, a deep open water dive among others.
Then a few years went by, Mark and I were married, and it was time to celebrate my husband’s 40th. I decided it was time to go back to Briland and this time we had two little ones to accompany us. We must have had a bit of island fever because this time we ended our trip with a home on the island. The following year was my 40th and we stayed in our new home for five weeks. Not only did we celebrate my 40th birthday and my daughters 6th birthday, but we had a rotating door of guests that came to hang out with us.
We met locals, were invited to parties, weathered a minor hurricane, and even attended the funeral of the woman who had taken care of our new home for many years with the previous owners. It truly felt as if we had moved there and been taken in as one of their own. Mark’s brother, John, even wrote a book about the life and times of a Bahamian original…and interestingly enough, weed was involved. If you happen to pick up a copy of “Weed Man,” turn to the dedication page.
We’ve since sold the home but Briland has never left my heart. It’s a place where I can immediately unwind and reconnect with my family since island time moves a bit slower. What better place to go evaluate, reflect, dream, and express gratitude for all that has happened in my life thus far. As you read this, I will be waking up in my most favorite place and enjoying the company of my family and friends who are coming to help me celebrate. I will walk the familiar streets, enjoy the best conch salad, have dinner with neighbors I haven’t seen in 10 years, and relish in some unadulterated joy. To me, the secret to maintaining a youthful outlook is…finding your joy.
The very first time I discovered Briland I was in the midst of falling in love and now every time I return my heart expands a little wider and the love continues to grow.