"It's a bleak day in Manhattan as I'm writing this, and I can't help wondering why I'm here and not on some gorgeous tropical island. In fact, I wonder why I've never been on a gorgeous tropical island. My favorite Broadway number is still ''Bali Ha'i,'' from ''South Pacific,'' with its romantic longing for lush, waterlapped surroundings, and its seductive refrain, ''Come to me, come to me.'' And there's probably something innate that keeps drawing me, like a lemming, to water. As a child in Brooklyn, I headed for Coney Island every chance I had. When I was a suburban housewife, it was the sirens of Long Island Sound whose song I heard. Now, my midday respite from the computer usually includes a short walk to Carl Schurz Park, where staring at the East River clears those lines of green letters from the backs of my eyes. But there are no palm trees or bougainvillea in any of these places, and most of my recent, work-related travels have been to landlocked universities. No writing workshop on Aruba or Tahiti has ever crooned, ''Come to me, come to me.'' There have also been perfectly valid reasons for not choosing a tropical vacation: hurricanes, political unrest, overbooked airlines and hotels . . .
So I've yet to go scuba diving or see a parrot in nature, and one of these days, I suppose, ''Bali Ha'i'' will just quit calling. Maybe I'd better call my travel agent first."
by Hilma Wolitzer, published in the New York Times March 4, 1990