In the Bahamas, a slew of tiny translucent fish swirl around in the surf, where the island of New Providence meets the sea. Evolutionarily speaking, the fish assumed this opaque color over centuries to avoid being eaten by predators by blending in with the pale water of this Caribbean coastline, so clear you can see through it down to the sand below.
On my first night in Nassau, on the way in from the airport, my driver tells me he won’t even go in water unless he can see through it — a luxury my Pacific Northwest self could barely fathom. In exchange, I tell him about grey-green waters, how an ocean looks roiling in the rain all winter, and Oregon’s Haystack Rock. He’s intrigued, but also positive I’ll come around to his way of thinking.
The Bahamas are just as beautiful as anything you’ve been told about them — then more. Like all the other images of tropical island paradises that live in the minds of the landlocked, there’s no photo, video or phrase that can do them any real justice. Once you’re there, it’s hard not to fall in love — especially when you’re situated on an all-inclusive resort designed to please those looking for an escape from real life.
My own propensity toward childlike delight makes the island a natural fit for me. I feel giddy the moment I check in, excited about every little difference between island life and Los Angeles (and resort life vs. apartment life). I’m particularly obsessed with the pale water and the sand.
When a place is as hellbent on hospitality as Sandals Resort, it’s almost impossible not to have a good time, even if you’re in the unlikely scenario I find myself in: A single woman alone at a couples resort. I’d been invited to attend Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch’s Story Behind The Songs segments for CMT, so Sandals exempted me from their “Couples Only” policy. The event itself was part of a larger series and partnership between the two entities, and an initiative to raise money for their Sandals Foundation — the resort’s charitable arm that invests in the education of the local Caribbean community and schools. As an enormous country fan and an avid traveler, the event promised to hit many of my pleasure centers in one fell swoop.
Usually, when I travel I’m still working, cramming in wi-fi hours before the sun goes down and balancing work against a vacation. This time, though, I took a couple days completely off, I wanted to throw myself totally into the experience and see Sandals like any other resort-goer would; I wanted to watch Lynch and Aldean perform without thinking about work (quite as much as usual). It was definitely the right call.
I love a solo vacation because no one knows who you are. My job, for the most part, involves me being alone in large groups of people, trying to synthesize what we all experienced while still in the moment, taking notes on everyone else’s life, and my own. Being a woman alone in public is, to put it lightly, a conundrum. People constantly insist that I’m brave for going to shows alone, dining alone, and traveling to foreign countries on my own, but it isn’t until I find myself surrounded by couples that I fully grasp how fulfilling my freedom as a single person really is.
Normally I associate my singleness with its most obvious companion: Loneliness. Aside from not getting laid in my massive king bed (everyone else was taken, natch), existing in a world solely composed of romantic pairs at Sandals makes flying solo stand out in a way it never has before. As the weekend rolls on, I silently bless every Los Angeles bartender and waiter who never raise an eyebrow or confusedly ask where my “boss man” (aka male romantic partner) is every time I go to dine or drink alone. Still — between paddleboard excursions and insanely high thread-count naps — I begin to see that existing solely on my own timetable is a blessing I’ve never fully appreciated.
While others are locked into their activities, pairings, and plans, I’m able to flit around at will — sometimes welcomed into couple units who were curious why I was alone at the resort, other times content to go for long walks on the beach by myself or spend time journaling next to the pool — ready and able to dash back to my room for a pair of headphones when Beyonce and Jay-Z drop their surprise new album Everything Is Love.
Listening to the world’s ultimate power couple publicly recommit themselves, reminds me of another reason I’m still single: That’s the kind of partnership I’m looking for, one that could withstand traumas like public infidelity, and emerge stronger than before.
As for the country music aspect of the weekend, it’s almost derailed in Dustin Lynch’s case, due to a thunderstorm rolling in over the waters. Luckily, the rain never lasts long in the Bahamas in June. The set started a bit later than anticipated and was a bit soggier, but the show went on. For both Lynch, and later on, Jason Aldean, the chance to perform in such a small, intimate setting was a welcome one.
Lynch is still growing his stature as a country hitmaker, while Aldean had proven it many times over. The country legend put out a new album earlier this year, Rearview Town, which was good enough to warrant inclusion in my Country Grammar column. In the Bahamas, he easily lived up to his title of 2018 ACM Entertainer Of The Year — even while perched on a stool, in shorts and flip-flops, with half the crowd standing on the sand, ankle deep in the ocean.
Aldean thrives on a kind of everyman ethos, writing songs about love and heartbreak, girls and bars, and celebrating the small, precise moments of happiness that make life on earth worth living. Towards the end of his set, he plays a new love song off Rearview Town — a slow-burning, soulful ballad called “You Make It Easy.” Surveying a crowd of people in love swaying together in the dark, softly singing the lyrics to each other, is a reminder that when love does come, it isn’t always with grand fanfare. It’s often found in the sweet, slow, quiet moments.
That love will come, I have faith in that. For now, standing in the surf, with tiny fish tickling my toes, it feels just fine to be on my own.
Uproxx was hosted by Sandals Resort for this story. You can read our press trip/hosting policy here.