By COLLEEN LEDDY
I didn’t intend to travel anywhere for spring break this year. A combination of guilt and fickle finances convinced me that if anybody was going anywhere it should be David. In past years, he hasn’t always joined me and the kids on spring break excursions due to the demands of putting out a paper every week. So, I nobly suggested that he accompany Maddie to Miami to visit Ben and attend a University of Miami campus event for accepted students and their parents, while I stayed home and worked at the office.
Then Maddie was invited by the other of her prospective Florida colleges to a scholarship competition. It was a hefty scholarship opportunity, one we thought she shouldn’t pass up—even though we think she will probably end up selecting the University of Michigan as her college of choice. But David didn’t like her plan to travel by Greyhound alone from downtown Orlando to downtown Miami. So, enter me, personal parental escort to the indecisive future college student.
Now that I’ve returned from what became a glorious 10-day trip to Florida, I’ve gotten over the guilt of going from no vacation to a vacation twice as long as David’s Wednesday-to-early-Monday-morning journey. David had eased the guilt somewhat by suggesting I consider the trip a celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. I guess it was fitting that he was only there half the time since the other half I was mentally checked out anyway.
Maybe it was the stress of driving a rental car, trying not to get in a crash and wondering if I made the right decision of opting to return the car with a full tank of gas instead of paying for a full tank in advance and returning the car on an empty tank. Maybe it was the burden of ignoring the twinge of fear that lingers in the background when mother and daughter travel alone, feeling like an easy mark. Maybe it was just the continuing saga of me being me. Whatever it was, it sure was persistent.
It started when I tried to drive the rental car wearing my clunky and quite ugly sage and brown Birkenstock sandals. My foot kept slipping on the gas pedal so I switched the Birk with the right foot of my hot pink Crocs, also quite ugly, but extremely comfortable. That footgear worked well on our first evening driving around the Orlando area. When we returned to a mall the second night, we entered through the Barnes and Noble bookstore. I sauntered in while Maddie rushed through, headed for clothing stores inside the mall. We planned to meet later in the bookstore. I was approaching the bathroom when I looked down and discovered I was wearing an ugly Birkenstock on one foot and a hot pink Croc on the other. Glad that Maddie wasn’t there to witness the doddering acts of her mother, I walked all the way through the store, trying not to laugh out loud, back to the car to make the switch to two ugly Birkenstocks.
Two days later, I did the same thing. We walked into a restaurant on Park Avenue in the very swanky Winter Park neighborhood. We ordered and ate our food, then walked into a store to browse when I happened to look down and see the Birkenstock on the left foot and hot pink Croc on the right. Maddie ushered me out of the store, whereupon I proceeded to try to unlock another white car that was not ours, all the while laughing out loud at my folly. Maddie had returned to the store by this time, unamused by my antics and incredulous that I can’t tell the difference between a Dodge Charger and a Lexus LS.
Later in the week, we were walking around Coconut Grove after dinner and Ben’s girlfriend Sarah had to go to the bathroom.
“Let's go in this hotel,” Maddie suggested.
So, we walk into the lobby of a swanky hotel pretending we belong, go to the bathroom, sample their fancy hand cream and then stroll through the lobby as if we're hotel guests. We were two blocks away before I realized my belt was hanging down unbuckled.
You probably don’t need to hear the story of the earplug in the toilet, or my escapades on the exercise course at a park near Ben’s house, but if Maddie chooses to go to school in Florida—far away from me—I’m guessing you won’t be surprised.– April 4, 2007