When I was 17 I went on vacation with my family to Anna Maria Island, Florida. It was during spring break my senior year of high school and I did not want to be there. I wanted to be on a cruise with my friends. I didn’t care that it was the last time my family would all be together – all six of us – on vacation for a long time (14 years as it turned out). I didn’t care that my parents were likely maxing out credit cards to afford the trip. Or even that they were grappling with the fact that their oldest child would soon be leaving the nest and that the trip was a chance for the family to spend some time together before that happened. Frankly, I was a total brat.
A few weeks ago, at 31, I went on vacation with my family to Naples, Florida. It was our first vacation together as adults, the first time since that fateful trip back in 2000. And, this time, there was nowhere else I would have rather been.
This time, I was very well aware of just how rare it is that all six – now eight, actually, counting brothers-in-law – of us are all together, let alone on vacation all together. I was painfully aware of just how much money my parents were spending on the trip (and to the fact that I was also pushing my credit card to its limit to offset their costs at every chance I got).
My, how time changes things.
We were fortunate to be given the use of an amazing six-bedroom (and when I say bedroom, I mean suite) home for the week – we’re talking the master suite is, no joke, the same size as my apartment. I believe the size of the home and the fact that we each had our own bathroom played a crucial role in how harmoniously we got along all week. Yes, we love each other, but a week is a lot of together time for all those different personalities. It was nice to have some personal space in the midst of all that togetherness.
It was a truly lovely week and everything a good beach vacation should be. The days were lazy and indulgent. We woke late, ate whatever we wanted for breakfast and drank very strong iced lattes from Bad Ass Coffee at our leisure.
We sauntered through the thick, ocean-y air to the beach (which was approximately three and a half minutes away from the house) and read book after book with our feet in the Gulf. We swam in our private pool and laughed over cold, midday beers. We ate way too much and spent hours walking up and down the coast.
We watched the dolphins play and the sun set from the pier every night and then sat on the back patio, sweaty in the still, humid night air and slapping away mosquitoes, but reluctant to close the day too soon, to leave the company of those we see too rarely.
I don’t know when we’ll all vacation together again (While I loved being in Naples, FL with my family I can’t say I particularly loved Naples, FL and am looking for a slightly more exotic and/or unique locale for next year’s getaway). I don’t even know when we’ll all be together at one time again. But I do know I’m grateful that I, and that all of us, grew up from bratty teenagers into pleasant (for the most part) adults who truly enjoy one another’s company.