Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Trip So Perfect, You Can't Believe It Happened

When Phillip first told me he had to attend a conference for work last month, I groaned inwardly as I always do at the idea of him going out of town, especially during busy times like, oh, say, December.

But this time there was a twist: the conference was in Florida, and did I want to come, too?

For years I've dreamed about tunneling out of the Massachusetts snow in the depths of winter for a tropical vacation, but we haven't been able to make it happen. Is Florida tropical? No. But it's close enough.

After we figured out how to keep the kids alive for 4 days and bought my ticket, I could hardly sleep. Four days of not getting stuck in an icy driveway! No static electricity! No dry skin! Nobody running away from me screaming "Don't touch me, your hands are freezing!"

I was so excited I didn't even ask any questions.

I didn't know Phillip's itinerary for the conference or whether I'd even really see him. When a friend said "I used to live in Florida! What city are you staying in?" I had no idea. Wherever it is, it was 75° and that was all I needed to know.

And that is how I went from sledding with the kids to eating cupcakes on a hotel balcony overlooking a courtyard full of palm trees, legitimately getting overheated in a light cardigan. It was heavenly.

This picture makes it look as if I'm in jail, but it was actually lovely.
Also, even if I was in jail, I would still be in Florida.

It was relaxing and restorative beyond imagination, but first I want to tell you that I have never been so seasonally confused in my life.

Having always lived in places that are cold and snowy in the winter, I never even thought about the fact that sunny Florida was also celebrating Christmas.

I mean, I logically knew they used the same calendar, but I was so deep in vacation mode that it wasn't until I got off the plane in Tampa and practically ran into a holiday garland-wrapped pillar that I remembered, "Oh yeahhhh... it's Christmas for them, too."

From there, things got weirder.

The display case at the bakery was full of pumpkin spice donuts and eggnog-flavored cupcakes, which I associate with sweater weather but I guess Floridians, like, eat them by the beach while applying SPF 50.

Christmas carols were playing in the trolley that took us from the resort to the beach walk downtown. We listened to "Little Drummer Boy" with the windows down, something I could never do at home without risking frostbite.

To me, palm trees are the ultimate symbol of the relaxed pace of a summer beach vacation, so seeing them inexplicably wrapped in Christmas lights (which symbolize the hustle and bustle and thermal base layers of winter) was beyond disorienting.


I know it's completely normal to people who live here, but not to me.

Where I live, it's not Christmas until you go outside and the surface layer of your eyeballs freeze.


Everything, from my complete lack of personal responsibilities to the tourists wandering around in their khaki shorts, confirmed that I was indeed on vacation... but then we'd pass a car with a Christmas tree tied to the roof and suddenly I wasn't sure of anything anymore.

Just stick the Christmas tree between the palms and pretend like we didn't have to ship it 1,000 miles here from Cleveland.

I also associate the warm weather with long summer days, so imagine my surprise when it continued to be winter and the sun set at 5:30 every day.

I mean, I did get to watch the sun set from the hot tub at the resort so it's not like I'm complaining.


For the rest of my life,  I think I'll remember how it felt to walk down to the ocean with my sandals in my hand, feeling the sun on my back for the first time in months. 

I just closed my eyes and took the deepest breath ever, like I was trying to literally inhale the moment. I WAS LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF THIS. 


This break from real life would've been welcome at any point during the year, but to abruptly go from the misery of single-digit temperatures to walking barefoot on the beach was like an out-of-body experience in all the right ways.

Phillip and I did have some logistics to discuss (because purportedly, Christmas was still coming) but I insisted that we do it all from the balcony or beside the fire pit on the patio. I didn't want to waste a single second sitting indoors.

It pained me whenever I had to go inside. I would've slept out there if they'd let me.

The view from our balcony, which I probably should've slept on now that I think about it.

This trip was a weird combination of a solo vacation and a couple's trip.

While Phillip was in talks and workshops during the day, I laid at the poolside or walked on the beach or went downtown and ate lunch with a book. After he was finished in the late afternoon, he'd join me and we'd figure out what we wanted to do for the rest of the night.

We took an evening walk along the beach and came across some people singing Christmas carols by the ocean, and strolled a pier where we could browse vendors' booths of overpriced jewelry made from shells.

We had tasty food and milkshakes (flashback to our trip to New York City where we got milkshakes from the same place twice in one day because they were so good, I guess that's how we party hard on vacation.)


We tried not to rely solely on selfies to remember this vacation, but when we asked a random person to take our picture on the beach it just turned out like this:

Not pictured in this crooked shot: the beach or Phillip's head.

So we decided that selfies would have to do.

Four days and three nights came and went, and it was time for me to go home. Though I would've loved to stay longer forever, I did notice that by end I was getting used to the ocean and the sunshine. The Christmas decorations on the palm trees didn't seem noteworthy anymore.

In retrospect, four days was the perfect length of time for me to be there and still appreciate every single second of the trip.

When I woke up the first morning after coming back home to New England, I looked out the window to see it had snowed overnight.

Even though it was colder, every branch was coated in white and I took the same deep breath I had taken that first day in Florida and thought Well, this is ridiculously beautiful, too.


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3 comments:

PurpleSlob said...

Wow!! So glad you got to come down and see us!! Come back again soon! Maybe next winter? lol
Yes, the snow is beautiful! On my screen! lol

AnneMarie said...

What a wonderful trip! That's great you got to do that with your husband. I'm sure it would have been a strange experience to see all of the tropical "summertime" things decked out for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Southern California, so to me, Christmas was always warm and nice. When we moved to Oklahoma in 2006 and it snowed at Christmas, I was depressed for days. Everyone was all "How lovely! A white Christmas!" and I was like "It's COLD you guys! How do you live where it's COLD?" We've been here for 14 years and I have never become resigned to it. I went back to CA for Christmas this year and the lights on the palm trees made me so happy.

It works in reverse, too, is what I'm saying. :o)

Signed, Julie -- aka, an ex-pat Californian in the Snow