We don’t get out the way some families do. We are, due to finances and personalities, basically a bunch of homebodies. But this spring we’ve already traveled to California and back to see Paul’s parents and now we’re leaving on Saturday for almost two weeks in Florida–a combination family vacation (going to grandma’s house!) and writing/marital retreat. This is a Very Big Deal.
Back in March, I found out that I wasn’t going to be offered residencies at the writers’ colonies I had applied to attend, so once again, I harnessed the power of Facebook to see if anyone “out there” might be willing to help a writer out. And just like last year, the internets came through! A lovely high school friend wrote to offer me her place in Sarasota, Florida, which at first seemed both impossible (too far from home) and too, well, Florida.
I have spent a lot of time in south Florida and my ambivalence about that state is no secret. It’s ungodly hot and suffocatingly humid. The bugs are monstrous. Most of the populated parts I am familiar with resemble strip malls. My first instinct was to say “thanks, but no thanks.”
And then I realized exactly what I was being offered.
Sarasota is forty miles from Port Charlotte, the town where my grandparents lived for near thirty years. It’s where they are buried. It’s where my father is buried.
My intention was to use this time as a writing retreat to finish the memoir. You know, the book I am writing about my father. Yeah. Duh. So now I can visit his grave–something that will happen rarely if at all now that my grandparents too have passed away–and drive by their house (and cry and cry) and write about all of that and be in proximity to…I don’t know, their spirit? Something like that. And in that light, how could I NOT take my friend up on her generous offer? This could not be a more perfect set up.
Except, wait! Oh, yes it can: by making it a family trip to see my mom who happens also to live on the opposite coast in south Florida (kids are thrilled! grandma is giddy!), and by asking grandma to (and I cannot believe I am actually writing this!) watch the kids while husband and I drive across the state to our sanctuary in Sarasota to enjoy several days of writing/photography/smooching/eating/sleeping/swimming in the ocean…ALONE together for the first time since before our darlings were born. (that’s going on eight years for anyone doing the math.)
Now that. That is perfect.