A little less than two weeks ago, Roy (the husband) and I finally made it back to Florida to visit his family. It was a vacation – sort of. It was in the sense that it was a break from our everyday lives, and we both genuinely love these visits. Seeing his family (who I am closer to than my own, and well, it’s Roy’s family), but also visiting “our” spots including where we got married and special places to us, favorite local spots, and dreaming of our someday… (We both want to end up in Florida eventually, in fact that was the plan instead of moving to Colorado but then life happened. I would like to make the move sooner than Roy, but he wants to make it eventually. This has never been a question.) These are the things that totally make it a vacation, but there are also a few factors that don’t.
Just like when visiting my grandmother, siblings and friends in Nebraska there never seems to be enough time to fit everything, or more accurately everyone, in. His family isn’t work, but sometimes it can be a balancing act making sure we see enough of everyone we want to, while still doing what we want to do, because there is no such thing as enough. (This is why trips to Nebraska, no matter how leisurely or enjoyable are never “vacations” either.) And when you start to feel the strain of getting rid of places on your list or seeing people, but for shorter periods of time because you’re off to someone else, well that creates tension.
This trip was a little easier in some ways because I knew we couldn’t do everything and gave up a few places to visit or eat at, so we could spend more time with Roy’s family. I was just better at cutting away or prioritizing than I have been in the past. And people always came first. Roy is always so “whatever” this really fell on me, and whether I have mellowed out or just stopped caring as much, it was easier to let things go this time around. But make no mistake, it’s not like our trip was laidback. We did A LOT and got to see everyone we wanted to, even if we wished there was a little more time.
Our first few days we were still on Colorado time, so we went to bed late, but got up on Florida time (too damn early). We got to spend time alone time with: Roy’s uncle; another uncle and aunt; one of his cousins who lives down there; his grandmother; both of his parents, but separately; and his sister. We also did a lot of group stuff with both of his parents and sister including a day trip and lots of meals and some time on the boat. So we got to see who we wanted to and didn’t rush anyone either.
Roy’s grandma Marly was the big reason for this trip, so we saw her four times, including some alone time in her apartment going over the album we gave her and a meal with just us (and two other meals with several others).
I don’t think we really did things we wanted to do on our list until our third day there. Until that point it was all about seeing people and finishing the darn albums (our Mother’s Day gifts to our grandmothers)! We made lots of coffee runs and ate at places we wanted to though. Roy’s sister is secretly devious, because she turned us on to an AMAZING bakery. Roy kept saying, “It’s A’s fault,” and she did get us into some serious trouble because it was a great recommendation and I decided I had to try everything before the end of our trip in order to know what to get next time. We went there every single day and left with at least five pastries. I’m eternally grateful to her because I have a huge sweet tooth addiction. Despite his good humor grumblings, I think Roy was happy about it too. It may have been “trouble” but their almond cookies seemed to make everything better. 😛
We looked at a lot of houses while we were out there, not the insides, just driving around to different areas Roy would consider living. It was all a part of “the dream” for both of us, and this was just a nice time for us to be by ourselves. I think his family thought, “You’re seeing so many houses; it’s weird,” but it wasn’t. I think it’s like keeping your eye on the prize. We just got to be by ourselves and talk and dream and even try to fit some of those dreams into reality.
We spent some time at his grandmother’s beach house where our wedding party stayed before the wedding, which is on the same beach we got married on, so that was all kinds of sentimental. Just watching the sunset, eating chocolates and cheese while drinking our favorite wine… it was perfect. We walked the beach there, and at the actual spot we got married (same beach, but it’s about a mile down the beach).
We went to an old historic fort in Florida with Roy’s parents and sister and then visited an amazing bookstore Roy’s other grandmother, Rachel, practically lived at. She had excellent taste – I would live there if I was a Florida resident! It was that awesome. We picnicked, ate a lot of Thai, and went to a restaurant that is like a family tradition for Roy’s family. We ate at a place I have wanted to eat at forever, but otherwise it was always us driving and dreaming or us visiting with the people who matter to us down there.
We’re both determined to make Florida happen again this year, and think for once that is more doable than it not being doable. So next time, we’ll get to do a lot of the things we didn’t get to do this time (Honeymoon Island and Hamburger Mary’s probably top the list) while visiting our old stand-bys. There will be house gazing, but I don’t think as much next time. I don’t know, it’s like you do it and it fills a sort of dream fulfillment reserve. We hadn’t been to Florida since 2014 so that reserve was on empty, but now it’s pretty near-full. And of course we’ll see all of the people who matter, just as much as this time, maybe even more!
I think one reason this trip was one my favorites is all the alone time we got with different members of Roy’s family. I think this was important to Roy for some people (like Marly, of course) but for others it was more for my benefit. With my hearing, certain places seem impossible to be able to follow along or communicate with others (like nearly any restaurant). No matter what people think, simply sitting at a table with people you love, but not being able to hear, understand or participate in conversation, is not fun, or enjoyable. But it is frustrating. So with restaurants I really prefer it to be three people or less, much better if it’s one on one but with Roy and I always together that is a rarity when visiting family.
It’s like in a restaurant with my new “amazing” hearing aids, if it is just me and someone else, using my assistive devices, most places begin at me understanding 70% on a three-second delay. Three people makes it 50% on a four-second delay. Four people 35% and a five-second delay. And more than four – why bother?
The same rules don’t apply for when we’re at someone’s house without a crowd. Whether it is his parent’s house or an uncle’s house, I am usually good with up to five to six people, assuming they’re aware and considerate (and all of Roy’s family is) and there aren’t children present (this isn’t saying I don’t like kids to be present, just that they change the variables/numbers). But anything over six and it starts ticking away at the delays and how much I can follow, which obviously affects my ability to participate in any conversation and good times.
Typically when Roy’s family visits Colorado we always do things in big groups, and it is similar when we’ve visited Florida in the past – either just Roy and I or a big group. It was nice to get away from that so I could be present at the meal/restaurant rather than just be told about it later. I definitely hope our next visit is like that, small intimate visits when out in a noisy or crowded place and big group stuff at someone’s house or on an outdoor day trip (with the exception of a boat or if it is super windy, outside is surprisingly easy to hear people, much like someone’s house). It’s the perfect balance too – special “focused” time with each of Roy’s relatives on top of big group stuff at someone’s house or at an outside park. I was actually able to “be there” instead of just pretending to be.
Florida, we will be back this year. It might be late December, but it is going to happen. So until then, Hamburger Mary’s cannot close, and we have to have one day dedicated to doing Honeymoon Island just the two of us (where we did our engagement shoot) and walk the beaches near and dear to us. But with less house dreaming and crossing some of the things off our list this time around – I think our next visit, whenever it is, will be the best yet. More time with the people that matter, and for me, figuring out the right amount of people versus places so that I can actually be there instead of just nodding along. 😀