You’re going to miss almost, just almost, normalizing paradise now. Paradise on earth. Paradise never-to-lose because you’ve already tasted it so early in your life. When society tells you to save certain places for milestones or even worse, “retirement,” you may scoff at the nameless procrastinators and ask “why can’t simply waking up knowing I’m still alive be that milestone? Why can’t I visit now? What’s to tell me why I can’t live now?”
Feel free to wait for a response. When you’re met with silence, then you know the faceless voices are just that, and may lay no claim to your doubts.
You’re going to miss the first meetings on an island you heard through lore of your young adulthood, the first hugs and handshakes before boarding a one hour flight over a lesser known shangri-la to land in an island you never heard of but even more beautiful and remote than the ones you heard of, the attempts to convince yourself that having no cabs to retrieve you from arrivals while under sudden rainstorms was just a first world problem, the following haggling and dealmaking with a bewildered cab driver to take your group two times over to the marina town, checking in and having a whole hostel to yourself, the gift bag of starfruit, a first lazy lunch watching a neverending monsoon, the meandering wander to hunt for affordable liquor, the first dinner by the water debating certain podcasts, sleeping in earlier than you would expect thanks to jet lag and no thanks to smelly sour passion fruit rum, and even the next day meeting your new replacement chef sent in by the heavens who made sure your check-in would be easier than any yacht week check-in day you’ve had.
You’re going to miss last minute provisional shopping knowing what you’re buying but not expecting what you’ll be eating for the next 7 days, the first dibs on the best floaties from the week prior, making a good first impression to the rest of the fleet by being the first to play your soundtrack to the week with your yacht’s mediocre sound system, hoisting up flags to be proud of, the orientation tequila shots, the first official and very wholesome dinner, running into so many folks from your prior yacht weeks, and rushing back before the next downpour which ended up ruining any chance of hosting the first party.
You’re going to miss waking up to calm waters realizing your yachts were still in the marina and therefore no need to worry to force yourself out of bed to be there for first sail, being able to witness your first polynesian sunrise, the reunion chats on the nets, the thrill of leaving the marina for the open oceans and for the next island. You may not miss the first bouts of nausea requiring closed eyes, tons of meds, and even trying to replay the entirety of your prior yacht week experience to pass the time, but you will miss 3 hours gone by to raise your eyes to Huahine and perhaps the best kept secret of the Polynesian Islands.
You’re going to miss anchoring for the first dives, SUP, and swim before the first dinghy ride out to a secluded beach, the mildly awkward day party that feels like a middle school trip involving games you haven’t played since middle school, getting a butt naked massage hidden by a sheet thinner than toilet paper not even a foot from everyone else, the ridiculous sunset while playing in the shallow lagoon waters and being the last to leave because its…just…that..beautiful, the dinghy ride in the darkness of night and jumping off for another swim in that same darkness, the carefree yacht hopping from one end to the other, even if it means crashing private parties you’re not meant to join because it’ll always end in good spirits here, and finally having the spaces to get to know the others on this trip before drifting off to sleep under a starry Polynesian night sky.
While you may not miss holding in your pee trying to talk about anything and everything including fruits to take your mind off from it, you’re going to miss eventually docking into a small cute port town and having the whole rest of the day here, the 10 minute stroll it takes to see all of it, the jet ski rides out in the bay, fresh young coconut streetside, the storytelling over rum in said fresh young coconut, having so much food at your dinner at the club and the convenience of being able to hop back and forth so quickly for a real bathroom on shore, a return to the party if needed, a return for more bottles of tequila, or if you wanted to have the party back on your yacht playing your own music if the mood called for it; after all, it’ll always be a party wherever you want to take it.
You’re going to miss the sail back but this time to Taha’a, where you will take on the coral reef video game challenge …and maybe that wasn’t the favorite game you’ve played. So you admire the nature and then feel bad for your presence ruining it, and move on quickly for a laughter filled night of “what if” questions for your fellow shipmates.
You’re going to then miss waking up with plenty of time to get ready for your redemption run at another game, but one that you haven’t yet won and don’t intend to lose again, dressing up to the roaring 20s, or was it Marvel? or Marvel 20’s? OK, just the roaring 20s, while you scramble through different TikTok video dance challenges so you can teach easy to learn choreography, the heroic dive in a rainstorm to retrieve someone’s bag of jewelry, dancing as long as you can with a single tequila shot fuelling your endurance, and trying to keep dancing to the orders of your on-board chef who actually knows how to win regatta, and then switching it up to make sure you do justice to the Drop Challenge, Lean With It, Apache, The Dougie, Steve Aoki, and Soulja Boy for what feels like nearly an hour before taking your ritual black swimsuit photo and then the drunk party inside as we hit the open water again.
You’re going to miss the first look at the magical island of Bora Bora. You’re here, not anywhere else. And despite whatever you’ve been told, you didn’t need any permission to wait for anything or anyone to arrive here. You’ll therefore miss the welcoming party with your first sight of a water jet back straight out of Iron Man, the way the sun shines over this island in a different way, the ubiquitous rainbows everywhere, dressing up in all white for your first themed party and driving a dinghy for the first time to the docks, the majestic group photos by sunset, retaking said group photos because the sunset colors keep changing on you, a wholesome dinner followed by a sudden awkward transition into the dance party, but then being “that group” when you’re the first ones to strip and jump into the pool by the dance floor, and then waiting for the rest of the party to join you…but you realize they’re just going to stand there and watch. And then you keep on dancing anyway. Because you’re in Bora Bora.
You’re going to miss waking up to a sunrise paradise over the mountains, freshly made bagels from scratch next to fresh fruit breakfasts and early morning swim with black fin sharks and other creatures of the deep surrounding you, followed by kite surfing, wake boarding, and ATVs around the island before finding out your yacht’s watermaker and A/C broke down and that just serendipitously means you should book the Intercontinental Hotel’s last 2 available cabanas instead and oh hey, did you realize the front desk is literally footsteps away from where you’d drop off the ATVs?
You’re going to miss splurging on the cabana dream come true that you’ve always seen on Top 10 lists, not believing that you’re actually staying in one, checking into your views right at sunset before heading to Bloody Mary’s for dinner and kicking off your shoes for a dance party on the sand, and then realizing you booked a stay at a cabana in Bora Bora so you gotta leave early and actually enjoy the damn place. So you leave and while you may not miss waiting for a cab as the party is withering away, or the inability to figure out the air conditioning when you’re back, you will miss waking up just in time for sunrise, and what. a. sunrise. You’ll miss even a welcome cat nap you’d take afterwards to catch up on sleep, feeling even more energized that you really made the most out of a last minute unexpected stay, leaving right at check-out and taking a cab to the town dock where you’ll be retrieved by a now reworking yacht, setting off a few hours later than the rest of the fleet to make it just in time for the deserted island party you feel you’ve been personally invited to because you’re about to find out you’ve JUST WON REGATTA.
You’re going to miss dancing your new team dance underneath a drone, taking photos by your last Polynesian sunset, spraying your victory champagne bottles with your (on your?) group, joining in the Polynesian performances, the final feast together for fish bigger than tow trucks, the last night dinghy rides back to the yacht, the overdue drinking games waiting for other yachts to come onboard like a middle school birthday party, balancing the last drunk conversations with last minute shooting your shot with body shots before waking up for the calm sail back to the base marina for our first goodbyes.
And with that you’re going to miss the very very slow and nearly uneventful last day together as you watch the next bus of Yacht Weekers arrive to bittersweetly take your place, before we slowly peel off one by one, two by two at a well placed lodge by the runway of all our goodbyes, the post-mortem dissection of all the drama that you may have missed the past week, the vibes of your last meal together over outdoor Polynesian street food, the awkwardness of having to say “stuck in Bora Bora” when your plane breaks down and you have to wait for a replacement flight, the joy of being rebooked to the last flight back home, but moreover the deep hugs, the lingering looks, the promises to see you again, and the knowledge you just spent a week with people who never needed permission. Who never needed an excuse to dare themselves to live the lives they had long deserved.
Who never waited for a life to begin again.