Sophie's Story: Love Affair with Bermuda
These two beautiful words conjure a secret relationship between two people in mostly everyone’s mind. A secret no one needs to know except these two people. But to me it’s been my life long passion with the magical island of Bermuda. My love affair.
As a little girl growing up in an urban city across the river from another mystifying city, New York seemed untouchable to my eyes. I saw the skyscrapers daily on my walk to school. After all I lived in the shadow but safely tucked away not divulging my secret.
Growing up in the urban jungle, I’d go to my local library and lose myself in books. As a matter of fact, I have several medals to prove my prolific reading habits. The students in our elementary school would be rewarded with a certificate for every ten books that were read. Once you reached 100 books, the principal of our school would honor any student with a medal for most books read.
Needless to say, I happily acquired many gold medals with the beautiful blue and gold ribbon to adorn my dresser.
My fascination with Bermuda started with a book I checked out from the library about the Bermuda triangle. I couldn’t put this book down. My mind would wander…. “How could anyone, let alone a plane disappear once it reached the air space above this island?” “Where are these lost airplanes and the people it carried to a magical island?”
Theories and myths. I attended high school, college, nursing school and kept busy reading.
Upon graduation, I started my employment at a hospital within a 5 minute walk from my home.
Within a year of working, I met my husband to be. It was a patient who was antagonistic with me at first. I realized quickly he took an immediate liking to me. Upon his discharge, he asked me out on a date. “To thank you for the wonderful care”, he said.
After two weeks, he proposed marriage. “I’ve never met anyone like you”. I declined. “We really should get to know one another”, I replied. This didn’t stop his constant attention of daily cards, love notes, gifts and phone calls. After two weeks I was given diamond earrings and an ankle bracelet with our initials. Very bold, right? I secretly liked this.
I accepted his gifts but not the proposal. I said, "Let’s see where this takes us." He persisted… after a month or so, he said, “I have a huge surprise!”
My curiosity was peaked. He presented me with tickets to Bermuda! What?? Bermuda, the island that I fell in love with growing up and reading about its magical spell on people. “Wow! I replied, That’s really nice but my parents will never allow me to go away with you”. He replied, “ I’ll ask and convince them that I’m respectful and the best man for their daughter.” Well then, ok! I thought there’s nothing he could say or do to convince my parents.
Well, guess what? My parents said yes! On one condition. I bring my sister as a chaperone and we share the room. And that’s what we did.
I was finally going to Bermuda! I couldn’t wait! I was finally going to experience this magical island.
Our week there was an experience I still remember so well. The smell of the ocean, fish stew and my beloved rum swizzle, “these are a few of my favorite things”. And I escaped the Bermuda triangle. This time.
We got engaged five months later on Thanksgiving weekend with a ring we both designed. We married after a year in July of 1982. We chose Bermuda for our honeymoon but for two weeks! Coincidentally my in-laws were in Bermuda for their honeymoon at Castle Harbour in the 1950’s. We found it didn’t exist anymore. We visited to make another connection and I fantasized about this lost “castle”. Of course Bermuda would have castles! So far Bermuda keeps coming back to me.
Nevertheless, it was magical for both of us. We met a wonderful, kind bartender named Gus Esnard at our hotel which was located right by the beach. We became friendly and he invited us to his home for dinner and to listen to soca music. Imagine! To experience the people of this island, their kindness and generosity. I thought of growing up as a child in a city with only my beloved books to take me away. And here I am. In a Bermuda home. With Bermudian people. My heart was overjoyed.
We visited the Crystal Caves, the lighthouse, Elbow Beach, Horseshoe Bay and our first tour of the Bermuda Perfumery in its original location. I still remember the tour guide taking us through the process of pressed flowers and informing us it takes up to a year to make these fragrances. I bought my first perfume there. I proudly wore it only on special occasions upon my return to the states. I needed this feeling to last. After all, I had to keep this love affair alive.
We filled albums with photos and pictures of our adventures in Bermuda. We exchanged letters and cards with our new friend, Gus Esnard.
A year later, our friend from Bermuda was visiting us in the states! We took him to New York and showed him the sites. We made a life long friend.
A year later Mr. Esnard asked if we would be godparents to his daughter. “Of course!” He arranged this to be done by proxy.
As life got busier, we lost touch. We exchanged letters and cards for a while, but in one of Mr. Esnard’s last letters, he was returning to his homeland. If my memory serves me correctly, it was Trinidad. I’ve tried to locate him but sadly could not. (If anyone is in contact with Mr. Esnard, please have him contact The Bermuda Perfumery so we can reunite these old friends.)
Our life filled with more vacations, a home of our own, and finally our dream come true, the birth of our “beautiful boy” Michael. It was not to be our happily ever after.
We separated after the birth of our son. And tough times ensued. I was raising my son and finally one night sitting at my computer, I booked a trip to Bermuda for my son and myself.
I surprised him the next day. We were to leave once his spring vacation started. I wanted to experience Bermuda with my son and show him all the places his parents visited and fell in love with. I needed and wanted my son to have the same love affair with Bermuda as I did! My secret would be out.
I took my son to all the places his parents visited. Saving the Perfumery for last with a tour.
This time, I chose Bermudiana as my scent. I wore it every day upon my return. I needed the daily reminders of my vision and memories of Bermuda.
I became friendly with the staff online, ordering my Bermudiana. I was told it was being discontinued! No! Please! I ordered 50 bottles!! Really! I gave a few to friends as gifts. (Bermudiana has since been brought back to Lili Bermuda because of our lovely clients who missed it too much!)
I spritzed it every day. But it eventually was running out. Around this time, the man I started to date was traveling to Bermuda and he invited me! Well hello! Yes, gladly. I could visit the shops, museum, and my beloved perfumery and choose a new scent. Which I did. Coral….. The sound of this alone conjures up colors of the sea and after testing many fragrances, I settled on this. I ordered 5 bottles to take home.
I still use this fragrance ordering it every month or so from Isabelle and her wonderful team at the Perfumery in St. George. My now fiancée and I have visited also and had tea in the garden. I’ve converted him as well. He wears Navy!
I’m reminded daily of my beautiful Bermuda because everywhere I go, people compliment me on my fragrance. I wear it daily! I’ve given out my samples. To anyone who compliments me with information on how to order it. Spread the happiness. My secret will no longer be.
So after nine trips to your beautiful Bermuda, I am getting married this May (on the same weekend as the Royal Wedding!) to the gentleman that I visited with. My love affair has lasted 50 years or so. It hasn’t let me down. It continues to give me joy, happiness and puts the biggest smile on my face as I look out the airplane window as we approach the island. It brings tears to my eyes.
I’ve shared Bermuda with my first husband (who has since passed), my son and now my future husband. The three important men in my life, besides my father. I wish I could’ve brought him to Bermuda. He was so worried I wouldn’t return because of that triangle…..
I am returning to Bermuda very soon and most likely for another honeymoon. My dream is to live there and not to sound morbid, I’d like my ashes spread there.
When my days are filled with the rush of my nursing career helping people, I steal a minute or so and reminisce of my days and memories of Bermuda. This isolated island not tethered to anything. In the middle of the Atlantic. It’s “just a piece of rock” as a Bermudian I recalled telling me upon remarking how lucky he is to live in Bermuda.
Not just a rock I said. A love affair.
See you very soon,