It was a cold morning. I woke up at about 7 o'clock knowing that this was the day I had been waiting for. I showered and wondered if by nightfall I really would be hundreds of miles away from here. I packed my suitcase. I had no time the night before because I had worked late at Sammy's. But I was ready to go this morning.
Just two days before I had received the news that my grandmother, Ruth, had died due to complications that occured shortly after she had a heart attack. I guess it just hadn't hit me. I hadn't spent much time with her lately. Since this trip was already set up, I wouldn't be able to attend the funeral which, in some respects, was good. I could just remember her the way she was when me and Mike and Brian went up there on our way to Valley Oaks on Monday night. That was just before Mom moved into her own place. Things change, but I realized that grandma didn't deserve to be pent-up in that little apartment with hardly anything to do. She is now free to do anything she wants, including, of course, reuniting with her husband who passed 18 years prior.
I waited downstairs with my suitcase ready to depart. My stepdad, Phil, picked me up at about 9am. I put my suitcase in back and hopped into the front seat of his company car and headed off to LaCrosse. He told me about the breakup of him and my mother, which I, of course, was aware of. He said he might be a bit distant and introspective during the trip. I understood.
I was going to Florida for the first time. I had a bit of a cold, but it was basically just an on-again, off-again runny nose. We arrived at the Lax airport. It was about twenty degrees outside with snow on the ground . We checked our baggage and boarded the plane. I can't remember much of that flight from LaCrosse to Minneapolis, just that it was only about 40 minutes long and over quickly. I hadn't been on a plane since about 1986 when Phil and Mom took me with them to California for a few days.
At the Minneapolis airport, I ate at McDonalds. This Micky D's actually served pizza, but I chose chicken nuggets while Phil got something from Pizza Hut. After an hour and a half layover, it was time to go. The flight to West Palm Beach would be around three hours. The plane took off. I listened to headphones part of the way, had a little something to eat. We were in first class which wasn't bad.
As we got further south, I saw that there wasn't any snow on the ground and that brought a smile to my face. We flew over Nashville and soon were in Florida. There were a lot of smiling people on the plane as we landed in sunny West Palm Beach in the late afternoon. I was feeling a little groggy, so I picked up some aspirin at an airport store around the time that we got our baggage. The airport was fantastic. It had beautiful, light-colored carpeting and everyone seemed to be wearing short-sleeves and bright colors. We got a car rental. It was around 75 degrees and the sun was starting to set as we headed to the Holiday Inn Oceanfront Resort where we would be staying at. I rolled down the window and was glad that I had come.
We got the hotel room and then Phil showed me the Atlantic Ocean. It was a sight to see as it began to get dark. Then he took me to Burger King to pick something up because he was going out with an associate he knew that evening. I didn't mind. I was looking forward to just sitting back and thinking. He left. I took a bath and thought about what I had left behind. I watched a little TV and then went out on the balcony. I sat down and wistfully looked out at the mighty ocean.
It was hard to believe that I was in West Palm Beach, Florida on a Saturday night looking out at the Atlantic. But it was true. I thought about the upcoming funeral that my family was preparing for. I thought about Sammy's and school. I thought about the future and looked ahead to this summer when I can enjoy the outdoors again. It was so great to sit outside and not need a jacket or winter coat. I went back inside and watched some of the Dennis Quaid-Meg Ryan-Martin Short movie, "Innerspace".
Phil said that Walt Disney World-Magic Kingdom was the ticket for tomorrow and, of course, we already had tickets to the split-squad Twins-Rangers game the day after tomorrow. We wouldn't be leaving Florida for another 4 days, so there would be plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the state. Phil got back late and went to bed. I watched a little more TV and then did the same. It was hard to sleep thinking about the Magic Kingdom. But I finally did get to sleep. I couldn't wait to wake up and head off to our next destination: Orlando, Florida!
(typed into a computer at Winona State University in the spring of 1993)