I am not sure on which digital site I first heard about NextTribe, but I was immediately intrigued by an online platform devoted to women of a certain age. I wanted to read postings about menopause. It has only been in the past month or two that I am not awakened by both hot flashes and cold flashes in the middle of the night. A good night’s sleep had eluded me for years. And, the hunger. Menopause hunger equals pregnancy hunger. I told my husband to stop hating on older women for being overweight. We can’t help it. We are hungry all the time.
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These were my musings over menopause. I tried in vain speaking with other women. I know I could take hormones, but I want to go through the change naturally. I needed more insight. I read Darcey Steinke’s Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life, but the book made me sad. NextTribe’s menopause stories were far more relatable than conversations with friends and reading published books.
Menopause has not slowed me down. I have a 100-mile daily commute to work. I work with middle schoolers who struggle with literacy, and three-plus years ago I decided my life wasn’t tortured enough. I needed to get my Ph.D. As my menopause symptoms subside, I have all sorts of new anxieties related to my doctoral studies to take their place.
I was in the midst of working on my last assignment for my fall semester when I clicked away from my Google Doc. I noticed an email from Jeannie. I read that if I became a paid member my name would be entered in a drawing to win a week’s stay at the Oyster Bay Resort in St. Maarten. The picture looked so nice and warm. I live in Wisconsin. Enough said.
Winning the NextTribe Trip
My last four months had been ridiculously busy. I had had only a one day reprieve from any kind of work related to my job or studies. I needed a vacation. I paid the membership fee [$29 for a year], and a few weeks later I received another email from Jeannie telling me I had won. I was ecstatic. There are moments in a person’s life when it seems as if divine intervention is at work. That is how I felt. I had earned a reason to relax.
My first thought was to take the trip with my husband and our 13-year-old daughter. But, that would mean taking her out of school for a week. I then thought of my 88-year-old father who a year after my mother passed away took me on a cruise to Venice, Albania, and the Greek Isles. My dad who paid for most of a Disney Cruise last winter break. My dad who takes me to concerts as his plus-one. I quickly decided that my dad must be as sick of Milwaukee’s no-sun winters as I was and would be a perfect plus-one on this adventure.
Away We Go
And, what an adventure it was. St. Maarten in February is warm and welcoming. The roads are perilously steep and winding. The waters are rough but boldly blue and vibrant. Intermittent winter rains assure growth.
The two of us had a wonderful time. The part of the Oyster Bay Resort where we were lucky enough to stay simulates a cruise ship. Sitting on the veranda and the upper porch deck, an amenity of the condo, I felt like I was asea on a luxury liner.
A visit to St. Maarten affords tourists with the opportunity to island-hop via ferry or small plane. A rough ferry ride took us to the island of St. Barths with its high-end shopping and yachts galore. The concierges at Oyster Bay were always ready with suggestions of what to do. The food was consistently tasty and the resort is adjacent to the restaurant Big Fish, which serves excellent raw seafood dishes. The portions were generous compared with raw fish portion size meals
The week was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was truly a godsend allowing me to recharge at the start of my last full course semester as a doctoral student.