There’s a brief hesitation at the last second while my husband and I look at each other in dazed disbelief. And then a click of the keyboard and the tickets to the Bahamas are booked.
It’s a big deal.
We aren’t the sort of family that hops on planes headed to exotic, touristy vacation spots on a whim. If at all, we pack up for a few days of Florida sun when the winter winds become too excruciating to bear.
But now we are venturing beyond our comfort zone. We are going to the Bahamas and we talk about that a lot. We may or may not try to stick it into conversations in a casual, we-are-the-sort-of-family-that-hops-on-planes-to-exotic-touristy-vacation-spots kind of way. “Oh yes, winter vacation is coming up, isn’t it? We’ll be going to the Bahamas this year.”
As winter hits, stronger, fiercer and angrier than ever, I count down the days. We are all suffering from various cold-weather ailments and every garbage can in the house overflows with empty boxes of Kleenex extra-soft lotion tissues. Last year, my husband and I had stumbled onto our flight to Florida with noses sealed shut with congestion, and our daughter was on a round of antibiotics for an ear infection. We’d returned home five days later with sparkling clear nasal passages and a healthy pink glow in our skin. I empty the trash cans and tell myself it will all end with our trip to the Bahamas.
But then one day, just days before departure, I wake up to minor abdominal pains that quickly turns into major abdominal pains that quickly turns into a visit to the ER. There is a rapid flurry of activity and the next thing I know, we are headed home. The pain is gone and so are our tickets. I stare at my bedroom ceiling, grateful for the big things like health and life and blessedly ordinary days, while my husband speaks to an American Airlines rep to cancel our trip. “We’ll reschedule,” my husband says. From my spot on my bed where I am recovering from the ordeal, I know we probably won’t, but that doesn’t bother me at all.
I wake up on the first day of vacation with sun on my face, deceptively bright. I peer through the shades and watch the blinding glare dip in and out of smoggy clouds. Dead branches hold out their thin arms, reaching for a strand of warmth. I am not fooled. The weather app on my phone tells me the temperature has plummeted by 18 degrees. I sit on the couch and wrap myself in throw blankets because even inside my toasty home I can feel the temperature drop deep inside my bones. I watch my daughter play while my mind travels to a little island far away. The hospital episode has faded by now and the focus on big things recedes with it. I hear a tiny whisper, barely there. Imagine, I think, if we were in the Bahamas…