While the idea of placing a message in a bottle has always seemed romantic to me, I think I should preface this post by saying that, in the future, I promise to make up for all the bad environmentalist karma I’ve probably racked up for this act. Also, I’m not necessarily condoning doing the same thing! I know that in some countries the act is, understandably, illegal. Nevertheless, I checked the laws in the country the bottle was thrown in before doing it and, the item has been on my bucket list for a while, so I figured that carrying out this romantic fantasy at least once would be neat.
Last summer, when I went on vacation in St. Martin with my family, I thought that this location, where I have been going every year for the past twenty-two years, would be an ideal place to leave my message in a bottle. However, as usual, I waited until the last minute and never followed through with my plan. When I traveled to Australia a few months ago, I decided that yes, leaving a message in a bottle halfway around the world on a trip that had a major impact on my life would be ideal. But alas, again I waited too long and think that subconsciously, I didn’t want to be the crazy girl leaving notes in a bottle on the trip. Yet last week, on the last day of my spring break trip to St. Martin, I crossed the item off the list.
Ten minutes before Hot Wheels, our favorite taxi driver friend, was about to arrive at the resort to take my friends and I to the airport for departure, I thought, if you don’t do it now, you’ll either have to throw a bottle into the ocean near your house, which is much less epic, or wait until next year. I scourged the fridge for any empty bottles I could use, but since there weren’t any left, decided to ask my dad if he had any lying around. “This may be sort of gross,” he said, “but you can see if there are any in the garbage.” I opened the lid of the garbage can and after some digging, came across my empty Gatorade bottle from the other day — not quite the romanticized image of the bottle I had envisioned, but it worked. I grabbed the pen on the counter and the notepad the resort leaves in the room, told everyone I would be right back, and ran outside.
I always imagined that when I left a message in the bottle, the note would consist of some lengthy love letter. I would express my unrevealed feelings to the man I love in the hopes that someday, the note would sail across the sea until it reached him. English majors may hate clichés, but I think many of us enjoy the extreme scenarios crafted by our beloved romance writers! Instead though, when I stepped outside, I knew what I wanted to write. I decided to dedicate the note to my grandpa, one of my best friends, who passed away while I was studying abroad in Australia.
As I walked outside, I slipped the note into the bottle, tried to walk as far away from the security guard as I could, pretended I was sitting down on the dock, then let the bottle slip from my fingers and into the sea.
Who knows? Maybe someone noticed the bottle immediately and went to retrieve it, only to not notice the note inside. Or maybe they did notice the note. Because I didn’t throw the bottle in a river, I know the odds of the bottle traveling very far, or traveling anywhere, is rare. Yet maybe it will float for a few days and never be found, or end up on a nearby beach. Either way, I enjoy knowing that what has become of the bottle will always be a mystery.
So although I am not condoning polluting the ocean, I am curious if anyone has pursued a similar project or has a similar item he or she wants to cross off a bucket list? I’d love to hear about your experiences!