Lesser women would shudder at the thought of vacationing with two beautiful 18 year old girls who had just graduated high school. Weak-willed females would fret that there would not be enough to entertain said beauties, but I cannot be classified as either lesser or weak-willed. This was my graduation gift to my eldest niece Kristin and her best friend Kaylie.
We were not without our obstacles. The trip had to be postponed for a day, and if I had been intelligent, we would have postponed it two days. This would have allowed us at least the first afternoon on the beach instead of arriving in town at 9:30 p.m. But alas, you live and learn.
Try to explain to these two cherubs the need to pack light. Go ahead. You give it a shot. It would be easier to convince them there is no Santa Claus. “Listen, you won’t need a lot of stuff. We’re staying on the beach. Really… you’ll only need some shorts and a bathing suit.”
“We’re going to take our graduation dresses. You have to take a dress too.”
“We’re not going anywhere that we need to dress up for. We’re going to be on the beach.”
“Right. Just make sure you pack that dress.”
I remembered back to the days when I traveled as a teenager. I didn’t pack light either. It is something you learn as you age. And I knew better than to pack a dress. I knew I wasn’t going to wear a dress. Did I pack the dress? Yes. Did I wear the dress? No. Why? Because I knew I wasn’t going to wear the dress but I succumbed to peer pressure and packed it anyway. That should have been my first clue. We crammed our luggage into the back of the Santa Fe and were ready to go. (Thankfully, the Santa Fe was roomy enough to pack heavy and allow me to still see out the window)
We left town at 2:00 pm on Sunday and headed south. Kristin perched in the front seat and Kaylie stretched out in the back. One quick stop at a gas station (for the snack foods that are required with any road trip over three hours) and onto the interstate we flew with the wind whipping through our hair and the sounds of “Play that Funky Music White Boy” coming from the CD player. Kaylie kept the beat with the music as she was text-messaging her not-quite-yet boyfriend every few seconds. She was amazing. She can text faster than I can type on a computer. Certainly why Kaylie is the Amayzing One!
The girls did a great job traveling. They had been warned about my habit of NOT stopping for restroom breaks, but I had determined that I would not mind stopping if it became a necessity. We stopped once around Montgomery for some fast food and then we stopped again at the Florida state line so that their pictures could be taken there and cute graduation gifts could be opened. (Yes… I am the Best. Aunt. Ever.) We finally pulled into the condo and unloaded the car. It was 9:30ish and apparently a rule of thumb for any young girl traveling to Florida is to unpack everything into the drawers and closets.
“Where are the hangers? We don’t have any hangers in our closet. Do you?”
“No. Why would I need a hanger? I brought shorts and swimsuits. What did you bring that you need a hanger for?”
“Hellooooo… our dresses! You did bring a dress, didn’t you?”
(sigh) “Put that on the list of things to get at Wal-Mart.”
We also had the duty of naming the statuesque pelican that stood just in the front hallway. I know we gave him a massive name... but for whatever reason, I have forgotten it now (that *#$&@! age thing creeping up on me) His nickname was Spike... that much I do remember.
We hit the Wal-Mart around 10:30pm and this old chick (who had been driving for seven hours) was starting to rapidly fade. Must. Get. Food. Must. Nourish. Children. Must. Buy. Hangers. With our purchases made (enough food for the week as well as a couple of DVDs, and plenty of peach colored hangers) we return to the condo for unpacking the car, the sequel, and head out to see the ocean. In the dark. Kristin doesn’t really like the beach in the dark. I think it is an unhealthy fear of crabs. At least I did not have to worry about her sneaking off to Spinnakers in the deepest part of the night.
We had no agenda on our vacation. I wonder if I should have planned one. I wanted them to be able to do whatever they wanted to do, and not to worry about having to be at this place by a certain time or that place. They were great. We had a couple of adult rules as well… since they are both legally adults now. They could not do anything illegal (which kept them from purchasing tobacco, liquor or getting into bars) and they could not go into a guy’s condo, and a guy could not come into ours. Pretty simple and they didn’t even blink at the requirements. Not. Once. I love these girls.
We could sleep as late as we wanted and we could wake up whenever we wanted. Breakfasts were on your own (cereal and Pop Tarts ruled!) and most mornings I woke up and sat on the balcony to read a book. I usually would head to the pool/beach before they were up and around. They would join me and tan their perfect 18 year old bodies while I was trying to camouflage the imperfections of my much older one. We’d head inside for lunch and then hit the afternoon sun. Kristin didn't care for sunbathing on the beach itself. One would think it was an aversion to the sand... but no, she swore she could hear the crabs moving about just under the surface. Okay. Sure.
We ate at Pineapple Willy’s and the Treasure Ship. PW is my favorite beach locale, and Kristin had great memories of the ship from her childhood. We spent one day doing some shopping and realized that Kaylie has a penchant (or is it a disease?) for thrift stores. We could not pass one without stopping… that would have been inhumane. She made the trek to the last of the stores on her own as Kristin and I had determined we didn’t need to own a Lafayette County Cheerleader t-shirt.
On Thursday, Kristin took a big permanent step towards her adulthood by getting her first tattoo. I say first, because she may choose to mark more places on her body. She decided on three stars that are located on her left shoulder blade. She was nervous as we pulled up and refused to let us remain in the building while she was being etched on. Kaylie and I walked around and waited for Kristin to come screaming out of the building with red ooze pouring from her shoulder. We were delighted when she calmly walked to the car and let us know that it was not painful at all and she was no worse for wear. There were pictures taken of the tattoo and emailed to family and friends from her laptop that evening.
When Friday rolled around, we decided that it was time to work the Maze. PCBeach has a great human-sized maze that my family has been following for some years now. Kaylie and I went off together and Kristin was on her own. (We didn’t want Kaylie to be overwhelmed with her first experience, and Kristin was okay to fly solo) Kaylie and I made it in 19 minutes and Kristin was about 5 minutes behind us.
We had the best time. Whether we were teaching Kaylie to play dominos (I won), were smearing oil on each other, or were laughing at Kaylie and her never-ending text messages...
"Oh wow. Kaylie has a text message."
"Are you sure?"
"Mm-hmm. I can't believe she has a text. Why... just just had one 30 seconds ago."
"And 30 seconds before that one, and on and on and on..."
Kaylie was a sport with all our ribbing. I swear… these girls are crazy! They made me laugh out loud on more than a few occasions and they were just so great to hang with for a few days! My fears were abolished when I realized what truly beautiful young women were spending time with me. I have known Kaylie for a number of years now, and she just continues to shine.
Of course, I have fed, bathed, diapered and kissed Kristin’s boo-boos. I am awed at her beauty and spirit. And I am so grateful that they wanted to spend the week in Florida with an old gal like me!