You never really know a place until you’ve lived there. I have lived several places that are people’s ‘dream places,’ to live. People will always get super excited when they found out you lived there and then ask the inevitable question, “Why did you come back here?” as if you must be out of your mind. It’s hard to imagine somewhere you’ve thought of as ‘paradise,’ for so long as being anything but ‘paradise.’ If you’ve traveled to some of these places and lived in them or veered off the main strip of resorts, etc., you soon realize, in many of them, outside the main strip, there’s poverty, housing issues, etc. I also hear all the time, ”if I lived there, I’d just spend all day at the beach.’ Really, unless you grew up on an ocean, are some sort of surfer, etc., you really wouldn’t. It becomes like the pool in your backyard. You fantasize about having it your whole life and then most people use it quite a bit when they first get it and then it fades. Not to mention, because you live in paradise, doesn’t mean life is paradise. There is still work, traffic, and all the joys that come with daily life. The weekends come and maybe you want to sit on the beach, but you have laundry and grocery shopping, and all the stuff everyone else does on the weekends. I have lots of fun memories of those places, and I feel grateful to have had the experiences of them. I think, as the poem reflects, one of the best things about them occurred before they happened. Those days in winter sitting in a bathtub, dreaming about my new life coming up, completely oblivious to the fact that it’s going to be ‘life.” When I still had thoughts like everyone else, “I’m never coming back. I’ll never have to scrape a car window again, etc.’ Then you go and quickly realize, you were sort of fooled by the dream too. Still, having those dreams, those days leading up to it happening, and the first months of living it, are pretty amazing.
Swarms of people passing,
a chaos of extremities,
bells and laughter. Stars on
their concentric paths look down.
Moments. The ocean whips up a breeze,
the world is delirious with summer here,
sambas once only heard in bathtubs
with red wine, come alive in the blood.
Girls trip over their heels.
Soldiers trip over their new found freedom,
brawling outside a club. The beach
smells of marijuana and high tide.
Couples make out behind tall palms,
they giggle thinking they are the first.
They are as common as rum here.
They are not the first people to embroider
their clothes with flowers.
Paradise is ripe with them.
Real estate agents smoke cigars on an upper level bar,
the scent of change and development is as distinguishable as the smoke they puff.
Paradise is not really a place.
It’s an idea
that the divorced, depressed, discarded cling to.
It’s invented in Midwest bathrooms,
as a samba plays
and you drink wine from a bottle
knowing you have nothing left to lose.