Welcome To St. Croix, As If

Old Danish Customs House, Christiansted

Old Danish Customs House, Christiansted (Photo credit:

Dear VERY KIND, RICH PERSON,

Is it May yet? I know, I’m daydreaming. I know it isn’t May, its dull, depressing, December and I know pretty much everyone is on vacation except for me and my family. I am grateful for what I have, truly. However, I am a tiny bit envious of all who are vacationing in warm climates while my chronic, painful bones tighten up. In my mind I am trying to conjure up some images that A) might torture me for months or B) give me the impetus to get through the ugly, soggy mushy yet cold winter. Either way, it’s something to do.

I just want to talk. I don’t believe in miracles, trust me, like I didn’t really believe I would win the lottery but it’s fun to think about so here we go: It’s only December and just because we had one day, sorry, two days with 20 more seconds of light it doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate and dance barefoot in the grass with flowers entwined in our hair. It’s twenty bogus seconds, that’s it. But, we take what we are given, no, there are no hot dogs on the grill or s’mores from the barbecue just quite yet. Get inside, it’s freezing.

We eat tomatoes that look and taste like wax, they are not even orange-red but some pale combination of yellow and green and plastic, utterly tasteless. The fresh fruit that we long for in the summer has whittled down to apples, oranges, a few mangy grapes, drooping from their spines as if they were just begging to be put out of their misery. Do these grapes really look like they have the will to live? No, poor things, just put them in the back and don’t let us witness their slow, disintegrating death, it’s just too sad.

The sky, again, is white and black, sometimes blended into gray. I’m staring into my yellow pillow that I bought to conjure up what I remember as sun but it doesn’t do the trick. “Surround yourselves with things you love” is not always easy. I love the ocean and sand and seashells but even my globe filled with delightful seashells and sand does not make me feel like I am on vacation in St. Croix, or any of The Virgin Islands, Mexico, or anyplace warm. I’m woefully stuck in reality.

Most people are away for this long holiday break to places I’ve never heard of much less been to. Families with a lot of money book places far in advance so they have vacations to look forward to, I envy them. I rationalize my thinking: if this was my norm, flying somewhere every break, would I take it for granted? I admit, I wouldn’t mind finding out.

In my mind, I’m vacationing in St. Croix, or Jamaica, Hawaii or Australia. These old weary bones that ache constantly would just have to settle in for the long flight and suffer, knowing that in the end, I would see skies a beautiful shade of blue, silky, soft sand and walking on the water’s edge. My only goal is to worship and enjoy the natural elements of life. Given the chance, my family and I can be packed in ten minutes and we thank you so very much.

English: St Croix

English: St Croix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Plinky Prompt: Traveling

The final TWA logo

The final TWA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home. Down Under.
    • Up, Up And Away….
    • Being the daughter of an airline employee we flew often and for free. We were young and of course, we didn’t appreciate flying to other countries. We went to see Oma and Opa in Vienna, Austria or our (wicked) step-grandmother in Israel. Didn’t everybody visit their grandparents during Spring break?
      Airline employees lived a different life, we flew stand-by, so we never knew if we would get on a flight until the very last moment. My father would cross his arms into a triangle and we knew that was the meaning for “a cliff hanger” or a very close call, a “a very flight.” We had been thrown off planes or “bumped” before.
      My father worked for TWA and his best friend for Pan Am, and the rivalry was fun and real. We flew to France, Israel, the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Rome, Italy, an island off of Greece, a fishing village in Portugal.
      Years later, when I met my husband, we traveled too, some on frequent flyer miles to Hawaii and to Australia, and later on to France for our miserable, cold and rainy honeymoon.
      We were so lucky, as children, to have had those experiences in the days when flying was actually fun.
      Now, flying is a brutal experience, if we have to fly, we go. But, it is not like the old days where you would get excited to fly and look forward to the trip. In the old days, my sister and I HAD to wear matching sweater and skirt sets. I remember the buttons on them were like ceramic balls. The suits were identical, except for the color. We were NEVER allowed to wear anything less fancy, it just wasn’t done. Back then, you also got dressed up to go to the theater.
      We appreciated the traveling we did back when we were children and teenagers, because once we were 21 and the free tickets abruptly stopped, we missed them even more.

    11fp - Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N8...

    11fp – Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N84357@FLL;30.01.1998 (Photo credit: Aero Icarus)

     

Mellow Yellow Monday – Yellow Bird

A yellow bird icon

A yellow bird icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The happiness of seeing a

beautiful yellow bird and his

friends, flying through thickly

shrouded trees. A taste of sunshine

in the rain, brightness in the dark.

I am grateful for yellow birds.

Carry On Tuesday- Come Fly With Me

Boynton Canyon - Sedona Arizona

Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr

Come fly with me and let me clutch your hand so that even if I feel the tiniest bit afraid in the beginning, I know you are here for support. We will travel over mountain tops and swoop over canyons as if we were birds soaring easily for food and flight. We have no responsibilities, except to have fun and for adventure to find us and for us to drink it in like wine, the shade of crimson roses. This is the adventure we have waited for, for so many years and we deserve this window of light looking straight out on to the  world. Wherever we go, we have each other, our own constant, for as long as it lasts. The images out of this small window are delightful. Now, we are flying above puffy, springy white clouds, I almost want to leap out through the window to jump on them, with you, my love, still holding on, to my hand.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

The Best Road Trip Ever

Road trip? Me?

 

Australian countryside 🙂

Road trip AND Me = oxymoron. I don’t generally like to sit in cars for a long time, both because I have Fibromyalgia and it hurts, second, because I get impatient and childish. “Are we there yet?” comes from me and not my children but they do chime in. The one road trip my husband and I went on was when we were in Australia many years ago. (I admit it wasn’t by choice) I had a traumatic airplane experience when we flew from NY to Australia which stretched my ear drum. The pain was horrendous and wouldn’t go away. I had to see a Dr. in Australia and when he found out we were supposed to fly to Hawaii (frequent flyer miles people!!!) he said “No way.” While we hadn’t planned on this road trip, I wasn’t allowed to fly. We stayed in Australia and drove to other cities, to the beach, to the countryside. I gained a beautiful experience on the road even though I lost most of my hearing in my left ear. While I admit it wasn’t my first choice, I was so grateful that this happened. Road trip took on a whole new meaning for me; I loved it.

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What I Miss About Childhood

Up, Up And Away

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100

I miss the innocence of being a child. When you are little you think that your parents can handle all of life’s problems. When I was a child we boarded airplanes continuously since our father worked for TWA. My sister and I had to dress up in matching blue skirts and sweaters, I remember the buttons felt and looked like small rocks. The only feeling we had, since we were flying non-rev, (subject to space) was perhaps annoyance that we may not get on the flight we wanted. We would have to wait for another flight at the airport which could take hours. At that time it seemed like a tragedy. Now, we fear terrorist attacks, bombs exploding, emergency landings and even birds in the sky. We take off our shoes, we go through security; everyone looks suspicious. Back then we dressed like we were going to the opera, now people wear jeans and sweat pants on the airplane, myself included. I would give anything to have that innocence back; I wouldn’t even complain about wearing a sweater set that identically matched my older sister’s.There is no way of making up for that loss of innocence; after 9/11 the world as we had known it, changed forever.

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What My Heart Feels

20080329 - Oranjello, the new kitten - 152-528...

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Flickr

Nostalgia slips in on tiny kitten paws at the strangest places and the most unexpected of times. Today I went out with my 16-year-old daughter to her annual physical. She got her learner’s permit less than a month ago and drove slowly but easily and with confidence, into the crowded parking lot. As soon as she put the car in Park, the lump in my throat thickened and I was unable to speak.

I started babbling and told her how proud I was of her. That from a shy, timid little girl she had grown into the most amazing, strong, confident and beautiful young woman. She looked at me, as only a teenage daughter can, with a bit of confusion, disgust and annoyance. Frankly, I can’t blame her.

For me,  this week has consisted of writing an essay about my son who is now a senior in high school and writing checks for my daughter’s PSAT test and driver’s education course. Years have slipped into minutes as I felt the twisting and turning, and actual jabbing pain in my heart. We were still right there in the parking lot when my daughter, without a sound, casually handed me back my keys.

The pediatrician’s office was filled with little children, a girl named Maddie, age 3, reminded me of my daughter when she was that age. Inquisitve, bright, lovely with straight blond hair, she danced around the waiting room, talking to the bright yellow and blue fish that swam in the fish tank. We were called in moments later and after the initial hello to the doctor, the pediatrician who has known my daughter since she was about 5, I left the room. The doctor asked my daughter if she wanted me to come back when she had the shots, a yearly tradition, she shrugged her shoulders up and down and said “I don’t care.”  It took me a minute to get up and leave; it was the first time my daughter hadn’t wanted to dig her fingernails, into my skin when she got the shot. I now missed the indentations her polished, blue fingernails would make in my hand.

It is hard to believe that next year my son will be in college and my daughter will be a senior. I feel like singing “Sunrise, Sunset” every day. Life passes by us, without reminders or stop signs. We have taught our children to be independent and strong, birds flying on their own. Times moves on and so must we. I’ve looked at old childhood photographs of when they were young but quickly replaced them with more up to date photos. I need to remind myself that they are young adults now. Once they leave for college it’s all very different. They don’t need us in the same way, we will see them less often but we will be here, quietly, patiently, with love, warmth and excitement whenever they want to come home. We will be waiting here, in their childhood home, with open arms.

Touchdown, Aruba

December 24, 2009

It was a long flight from Newark to Aruba yesterday, especially since our day started at 4am and did not end until after 9pm last night.  It was our long awaited reward from two years of hell, especially for me. First, two contiguous years of medical maladies including but not limited:a misdiagnosed illness,  an auto- immune disease,  fibromyalgia, flu-like symptoms every day (without the temperature), a very badly sprained ankle,( started in February 2009)  plantar fasciatis, and a torn ligament, excruciating back spasms…. ending, or at least lessening yesterday. After both a medical upheaval, a marriage upheaval (the whole summer of 2009) and surviving an extensive guilt from my mother about this trip, we are here; and it is good. It is good to be selfish sometimes when you know what you have been through and know what will keep you going. It is very, very good.

Don’t think, however, that the incredibly full flight was without adventure, it wasn’t. Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to disconnect so abruptly from my malaise but ease out of it slowly because the flight was filled with screaming children,major turbulance and some lady, trying to get her bag from the overhead (over my head) compartment hurling my metal cane and smashing me in the eye, causing massive pain, red welts, and me thinking that the plane had just been bombed.  A horrible passenger had a fight with the flight attendant and ended up shouting at her and giving her the finger. She was not saying “wait a minute.”

Once we got here, however, life was so very good. I eased into walking without a cane. We ate in the hotel for convenience sake last night and because we were so tired we thought we would pass out directly. I don’t remember much except having the fruit punch, a mixture of pineapple juice, red cranberry juice and orangey papaya juice;  It was addictive.  We stumbled into bed at 9pm, I don’t even remember putting my head on the pillow….

This morning we woke up, it was cloudy and my daughter cast a snarky attitude to the day, not seeing the promised sunshine. Luckily for us the wind changed and the sun, broiling in the sky, made several parts of us really sunburned. Tomorrow, we will use (even more) sunscreen.  Life’s a bitch.

A walk on the beach felt good for me both physically and mentally.  The sand is coarse, like kosher cooking salt, not smooth and shiny. The water, a perfect aquamarine was deliciously cool, salty and made me feel, as water always does, renewed. There are sharp inclines on the sand that are directly at the shore so it isn’t always easy to navigate, especially for me.

The pool was cool for some, never too cold f0r me and it had a swim-up bar, all frozen red-orange-pink drinks and large, light lime green margarita glasses rimmed with salt.  Sunglasses, a book, a virgin iced tea and the palm trees. Water, sand, palm trees, a cooling breeze; these are the pure things that make me very happy; this is my kind of heaven.

We went to dinner at Smokey Joe’s BBQ place and then took a long albeit painful walk back to the hotel..  I’m stubborn, I know. I didn’t want to miss up the opportunity to take pictures of Jillian next to a fake Santa or Christmas lights on the palm trees. Our son, Tim, is staying at his friend Aaron’s grandmother’s beach house aka  the mansion.  I’m glad that after all this time he was able to go; it was important for me, that after years of changing plans, he could finally do this.

Now it’s another nibble of dessert: white coconut cake with fresh pineapple inside and Jillian and Dan’s gooey, rich , sweet chocolate cake. Chocolates on the pillow; aloe on my body, vacations make me so very happy. And, I do deserve it.