I traveled when I was younger, but for the past 15 years or so, the only vacation trips I made were driving (or occasionally taking the train) to Colorado to visit Mom. Since I haven’t that annual trip on my calendar anymore, I decided to save my money so that I could visit my nearest and dearest all around the country.
My friend, Connie, asked, “Rose, is this going to be your farewell tour?” And, yes, I guess so…sort of like Cher’s; I hope I can keep doing it for the next 10 or 15 years!
The first trip was this summer. My niece, April Rose, is my only blood relative who has stayed in touch with me over the years. I hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving, 1994. Last month I flew to Florida for a brief visit, but I was apprehensive. When we were last together, she was a young woman and I was a middle-aged one. Now, she would be middle-aged and I an old lady.
|Me and April|
It didn’t matter. She is funnier now, or maybe just more wry; gorgeous as always; smart, smart, smart and totally unique. Me? Older, smaller, pretty much a hick these days. But we were still aunt and niece: family -- I felt a deep sense of connection that both surprised and touched me deeply....
Coming from Arizona, now in year 14 or 15 of a 20-year (possibly, never-ending) drought, Florida was lush and green to me, but it, too, was in the midst of a drought. But from the night of my arrival on, it rained every day I was there. I loved it. I soaked it up like a dried sponge. And we played anyway: beach, bookstores, bird watching, a visit to the fish market. We laughed and talked and ate. We saw Marigold Hotel. I stayed in a charmingly quaint hotel in downtown St. Petersburg (April’s jewel box of a house much too small to accommodate more than her and Charlotte, a feline companion) and spent early mornings walking and exploring that elegantly fading city. I had a grand time.