Escaping the Hotel California
“Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave” — The Eagles
This past week was the final turning point in my decision to leave Bermuda. And since then, Hotel California, written and performed by The Eagles in 1976, has been running through my mind.
I never understood or even liked the song growing up, though all my much older cousins did and played it repeatedly along with the music of Queen and American Pie. But as I listened this week, the lyrics about addictive self-destruction in a deceptively beautiful paradise combined with the lyrically seductive rhythm really began to capture my state of mind based on recent occurrences in my life here.
First it was meeting older locals who, for generations, have literally never left their small Parishes (neighborhoods) let alone Bermuda; whimsically calling it “The Rock” due to the challenge of traveling anywhere other than the East Coast or England.
Then came the knowledge that Tropical Storm Alex, while minor in the hurricane grand scheme of things here, was the first ever “A” storm to travel all the way from Mexico, through the Caribbean, and over Florida to impact Bermuda. They “normally” don’t get storms until late august when global water temperatures are warm enough to match the air and carry the storm all the way here.
Next came the knowledge that emergency dental incidents send you to the main hospital — where no doctor knows anything about dental surgery and does less — because dentists have the weekend off here. Then of course there were the refrain of my manicurist from Bali saying how boring it is here. This was followed by the music of a local DJ who must have peaked with The Grateful Dead. And one taxi driver telling me that no one can afford healthcare here, unless you work for the government in a dead-end job.
While another told me that no matter how beautiful this place is, you can only drive back and forth for a certain amount of time before you go stir-crazy.
And it clicked. I am trapped in an idyllically, beautiful bird-cage, a “Hotel California”, and I’m going stir-crazy. I can’t work for myself here as a non-permanent resident without corporate sponsorship, I can’t build a community, because, almost everyone is over the age of 60 and belongs to a “Private Club”, I can’t work out, because the closest gym is a 30-minute drive and costs $1600 a month. I can’t even swim because the closest beach requires a 15–20-minute walk on open-road.
Some people will argue with me, I could get a “Twizy” or “An Electric bike” And take myself everywhere. But I honestly wouldn’t dream of it given I have no left peripheral vision and would either kill someone or myself. And I “Could Work” here if I applied for local financial corporate sponsorship and a visa. But golden hand-cuffs and full-time jobs are not in my future. They weren’t in my past either other than a short stint at J.P Morgan a very long time ago.
As beautiful as this place is, and as charming as the people seem, I need sidewalks, public transportation that goes great distance at speed, a gym, a pool and emergency care. I need Live Music and Culture, a chance to rebuild my career after 8 years dealing with cancer. And I NEED FRIENDS AND PEERS. My Inclusive Intersection of immigrants and LGBTQ, of surfers, sailors, actors, comics, drag queens, designers and dreamers.
I need New York City, and all its flaws.
Holly Lynch is a 20+ year ESG and DEI communications veteran, board member, strategist and investor who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges, transitions and transformations in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching and consulting with those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to adapt to change while rebuilding their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.