The Honeymoon Fantasy Complex

Hotel Bora Bora - Aman. Clearly I'm just waiting for it to be renovated.

When I was about 9 or 10, I would curl up in a corner behind my closed bedroom door, and devour my mom’s Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler like a teenage boy discovering porn.

There was an entire world within those pages that I had only caught glimpses of in real life. A shiny, glossy world full of infinity pools and private bungalows and Aman Resorts. A dream world that one could argue is completely manufactured and very much the opposite of the “real life” that goes on in seemingly exotic locales.

It probably is.

But that world was like oxygen to this little girl growing up surrounded by illness and death. Anywhere but here was where I desperately wanted to be, and I lived for the annual trips that my mom and I took to places that fell halfway between our 950 square foot suburban ranch and the overwater bungalows of Bora Bora.

From those magazine articles, I started a list, long lost, of all the places I HAD to go in life.

I still very clearly remember two: Madeira and the Maldives.

The Maldives, particularly, stand out because that is where I wanted to go for my honeymoon.

Well, there or Tahiti, any over-water bungalow would do really.

Overwater bungalows, my 9-year-old self somehow concluded, were not places you went with your mom. They were places you went with your husband. Because somehow I thought a hypothetical-someday-husband would appreciate jumping into a lagoon straight from the doorstep and watching fish swim by under the coffee table more than my mom would…

Surprisingly, that is all actually true of my now-real husband-to-be. And he will undoubtedly look nicer in a bathing suit.

But we’re not going to Tahiti or the Maldives.

Partly because Scott is not yet prepared for that long of a flight. (He got a late start to the traveling thing. And I’m lucky I didn’t have to break up with him over his hatred of flying.)

But also because we just can’t afford it.

My inner 9-year-old wants to kill me for that.

But what 9 doesn’t know is that Travel + Leisure will stop arriving and in its place will be medical bills and collection agency notices. She will have to work to put herself through college through more years of death and illness. She will have to work to feed herself and pay the bills because she has no safety net. She will come very close to losing the only thing she has, that 950 sq ft ranch house, and she will somewhere along the line decide that she is never getting married, which renders the whole idea of a honeymoon pointless. So then when she’s meets the guy she ultimately decides she will marry after all, she’s had a bit of a late start to the whole PAYING FOR A MALDIVES HONEYMOON THING.

Well, when you lay it all like that, I’m quite proud that we are paying for the whole wedding thing at all.

But 9 was sold the dream, and it hurts to postpone that honeymoon dream for an “anniversary trip” in some far off future.

Much like the WIC, the Honeymoon Fantasy Complex, sells one on the tropical, the expected, the sometimes downright trite honeymoon package of sun and sand and oodles of ROMANCE in whatever ocean, and at whatever budget you happen to dream at. lt’s all the same experience, your one big shot at ROMANCE before you settle in boring, old marriage, and the fear that is a cornerstone of the TFC–babies. Otherwise know as you-will-never-have-alone-time-again.

Don’t like tropical? Well, you can probably get through a cocktail party without too many scoffs over a week in Paris or even New York. But the attitude remains the same.

Sell people the dream, and then part them with their money.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m a complete cynic, let me just say that I LOVE the dream. I think it is totally necessary. The dream of being somewhere far, far better than here has gotten me through more than one tough time, and I can think of no better time to do just that than one’s honeymoon.


Sadly, we are going to have to be parted with the dream before we part with our money.

I will tell you how it goes.