Things that have terrified me so far about attending the writers’ seminar on Martha’s Vineyard (in no particular order):

Ethnic hair care
Last summer’s desperate and fruitless search for a satin hair bonnet on Cape Cod highlighted that the basic necessities of ethnic hair care cannot be found outside of urban areas. Put another way: I can’t expect to find products to control the kinkies in places populated overwhelmingly by non-ethnic gente. Martha’s Vineyard is an island; everything needs to be transported onto the island. I doubted highly it received regular shipments of Queen Helene Cholesterol Crème Conditioner, satin hair wraps or shea butter treatment. I envisioned a week of high humidity and native fowl trapped in my gnarly fro. I packed my products and accessories in my carry-on for extra assurance.

Closet-dwelling psychos, van-driving kidnappers, and la chupacabra
The house in which I’d stay for the week was on a dead end street. The door was unlocked when I arrived. No one answered my calls of “Hello?” A note on the kitchen table greeted guests, outlined the week’s schedule and house rules, and invited the reader to make him or herself at home. I went into code red. Anyone could have walked into the house before me, made themselves at home, and be waiting for a lone little woman. Anyone. I checked the closets, shower stalls, behind the curtains, under the beds, and behind the couches for crazies. The toilets were free of piranhas. As I locked the windows, I saw a contractor’s van parked across the street. Vans are the preferred vehicles of cultists and human organ stealers. I locked all the doors and drew all the curtains closed. I didn’t want potential abductors or la chupacabra to know I was alone.

Vineyard Haven is a dry town
This most vital piece of information was not mentioned on the seminar’s web site or materials. An employee at the local bookstore informed me of this when I asked where I could buy a bottle of wine or pack of beer. I never realized a lack of pubs or liquor stores would be an issue until I found out there were none within the town. I left the books on the counter and walked onto Main Street, dazed. A police officer strolled across the street, which seemed appropriate because the situation felt like an emergency. However, the officer was on foot and I was too shy to ask him to call a squad car to take me into the next town, sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Martha’s Bike Rentals was ahead and still open, well past the official closing time. I took it as a sign; I was destined to rent bicycle #19. Georgie assured me the wire basket was large enough to accommodate a six pack and bottle of wine. He circled the location of Our Town Market on the map, three miles away in Oak Bluffs, and assured me I wouldn’t miss the large American flag or Budweiser sign. The ride there along Beach Road was glorious, past homes with unobstructed views of the water and setting sun. The parking lot was packed with cars and bicycles. I rode carefully on the return to not jostle the bottles in my basket. The bottle of Palm ale made me floaty as I sipped it on the swing and watched the fireflies spark the edges of the front yard. Disaster averted.

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