Do you ever jump up and take off on a really big adventure on the spur of the moment? I fall into the category of those who do not. Anything that is big or somewhat costly, I will think through for a while, and by the time I get done thinking and weighing things, the opportunity has usually passed.
More than two years ago my youngest grown child took a job that requires travel on a weekly basis. While that might sound tedious if you're talking commuting between Peoria and Scranton, those are not the places where she is forced to travel. She is based in Miami and charged with traveling to towns such as Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Key West, San Juan, and St. Croix. Yes, it is true. She spends weeks at a time stationed in these places and has become quite the savvy and confident traveler, racking up enough Sky Miles and points to travel free almost anywhere she wants.
I am blessed to be the mother of this generous child who has asked me on several occasions to fly down and join her in St. Croix or San Juan. However, I have always cautiously weighed and evaluated until I just never did it.
My daughter was due to finish up a three-week assignment in Key West last week, where she has been sent several times previously. I have visited the island three times in the past and enjoy its funky atmosphere a lot. For a few days, it crossed and re-crossed my mind to just do it and go down this time, but knowing myself pretty well, I knew I probably wasn't going.
Totally uncharacteristic of me, however, around noon last Monday, I thought to myself, if my boss will let me take off, if I can get the must-go articles in (three of them in one day), if I can get a ride to the airport, and if I can find an airline ticket at a price that is reasonable, I will go. That's a lot of "ifs" to be cleared in one afternoon.
Hurdle No. 1 cleared when my boss said "yes" to my sudden request to take the rest of the week off if I got the must-go three articles in.
I didn't think hurdle No. 2 could be cleared as, is usually the case, half the folks I needed to talk to for the articles to come together were out of pocket and didn't return calls. But I got creative and found others who could and would help with needed information. Amazingly, by late afternoon, the three were complete.
I rushed home and got on cheap ticket sites and began to search. However, it appeared that hurdle would be insurmountable. Way too much money.
My daughter suggested flying standby, so, I called one of the airlines to inquire about the possibility. The representative said "no." As a last-ditch effort, I phoned the second airline. This rep also said "no" to standby, but she offered to help. Amazingly, she offered the tickets at the price I had in mind to pay.
The call to a friend to see if I could get a ride to and from the airport was the final piece of the puzzle. Against all odds, it was a go.
The flights were as smooth as glass and landed either on time or early at their destinations every time.
During the day, while my daughter was working, I enjoyed the hotel's complimentary breakfast, lounged by the pool, did a little reading, and took the shuttle to Duval Street. All those roosters walking around crowing and the strange sights you see on the street there never cease to intrigue me.
When she left work each day, my daughter took me to quaint little off-the-beaten path restaurants in Old Town, then we walked Duval and shopped or went to Mallory Square and watched the sun set amid the circus-like atmosphere.
The sunsets were incredible, and even though I had visited Key West three times previously, I had never been in the town after dark. In Mallory Square we found a man walking a tightrope without a net or cushion, and a man who had seven or eight cats in carriers, one of which was trained to jump through a flaming hoop. Unbelievable.
The trip was a fun and exciting spur-of-the moment adventure that I came away wishing I had embarked on long ago.
In spite of the adventure the trip provided, however, the best part was the time spent face to face with my child and sharing heart-to-heart thoughts and feelings. A price can't be placed on that. I believe in years to come, both of us will look back and remember when we shared a small handful of days together in Key West — just the two of us, walking, talking, shopping together and sharing thoughts and feelings. A precious memory was made.
All the components of this short, uncharacteristic-of-me trip falling into place were phenomenal. And more so as over dinner one of the nights when she shared that this would be the last time she would be sent to Key West. When she told me that, it sank in that this was a trip a higher power assisted with.
You only pass this way once — take the time to make a memory with those you love.
Deborah Wheeler is a staff writer for The Walton Sun. She may be reached at 654-8443, 687-1239, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Personally Yours column appears as often as the need arises.