I just got back from the annual beach vacation. It is an opportunity to go to the same spot of real estate on which I have spent vacation time for the past 37 years in Inlet Beach, Florida. Inlet Beach has been eclipsed by its more affluent next door neighbor - Rosemary Beach - just outside of Panama City Beach - but like most things in my life...I normally call whatever it is by what I knew it by first. This tendency extends to calling banks, department stores, and restaurants by names that they did business under many moons ago.
I basically consider the original name to be like a corporate maiden name or something.
So, on July 5th, I took off with my sister, Linda, her two kids and my two for points south. Dad and Irlyn were already there...and we settled in and waited for the arrival of the other two sisters who had spent the previous day in New Orleans. Time flew by...as it always does...and the next day brought my brother...followed by Big Dave on Wednesday. A lot of seafood was consumed, books were read, and sunscreen was applied. Other than a couple of Pilates and power yoga classes (of which I did not partake because I didn't want anyone to get hurt laughing hysterically at my ineptitude)- it was what takes place on thousands of other beach vacations every year. Sun, sand, and surf. Food, fun, and family.
Wednesday, July 7th marked a milestone for Big Dave and me. We have now been married 25 years - a quarter of a century. Sadly, I actually remember turning 25 years of age about a gazillion years ago, and being amazed that I was that old. As if. I'd quite frankly like to give my young self a huge eye roll right now.
I was a bride at 22...just a month after starting my first job in banking and finishing my degree at Troy State University. (You can call it Troy University if you want...my diploma says Troy State University, is signed by George C. Wallace as governor, and actually has the words "Summa Cum Laude" on it - which is amazingly scary.)
We marked the occasion by watching the video of our wedding...freshly preserved on DVD from its little unsafe VHS tape enviroment through some magic performed at the Costco Photo Center. And NO, it wasn't just because I had a coupon...although I WILL admit that it did provide some incentive.
The tape began...and after fourteen forevers waiting for people to be seated, it was a lot of fun to take a walk down Memory Lane. I was amazingly slim, there was an abundance of facial hair on a number of the groomsmen, and I got ribbed for having the bridesmaids decked out in pale pink taffeta...but whatever. Hey, I am a Phi Mu, and because of this fact...that wedding was going to be rocking some pink. (Side note: If you've ever seen "Steel Magnolias" you might know that Shelby's wedding colors of pink and well PINK...were because the character she is based upon (the sister of the writer) was a Phi Mu. I kid thee not. At least I didn't have a red velvet armadillo grooms cake...so there's that.)
In the video, I saw the happy faces of my friends, family, neighbors, and sorority sisters as they were all those years ago. I watched my precious Gammy being escorted down the aisle and my mother looking gorgeous like she always does. I saw the church of my childhood adorned in pink carnations and yellow gladiolas and an extraordinarly nervous (and exhausted) groom standing up there waiting for me. I approached in my mother's wedding dress, traded rings and headed back down the aisle smiling like my mother-in-law told me that I ought to be. She was right.
It was nice to recall my natural hair color (as well as Big Dave's) and to remember the days of weddings when it was possible to have a nice reception in the Social Hall of the church after the ceremony instead of spending enough money to educate a kid for a year in college on just the flowers. I also saw the gorgeous wedding and groom's cakes that my sister-in-law, Wendy, made for the reception. She also made a couple of the dresses for the attendants and for me as well.
My little white hat was on as I left the church ducking the birdseed and making my way into the in-laws' (un)Reliant K (as Big Dave refers to it). We took their car because my Chevette was ridiculously unreliable and his white truck was even more so. We stopped through Montgomery to drop off some items after I drove from Georgia to Alabama while David was passed out from exhaustion with his head against the passenger window. All with the "Just Married" paraphenalia and lovely messages shoe polished all over the windows of the car. No, that wasn't embarrasing at all.
I was still wearing my hat, by the way.
We stopped at Darryl's Restaurant on the Eastern Boulevard in Montgomery for dinner. It is now a Hooters. *SIGH*
Where did we go from there? Inlet Beach, of course. We rode through the tourist-laden streets of Panama City Beach blaring Tears for Fears' "Shout" out the window and looking for the Miracle Strip Amusement Park.
But I've digressed...
We actually had a wonderful meal Wednesday night at a restaurant we visited on our honeymoon and were delighted to note that the fare has significantly improved in the interim. The bill for the meal reflected that improvement, naturally. (And, NO, it wasn't a Hooters.)
On Thursday, my sister's fiance' arrived, and we were all there for a few short hours. On Friday, Jill left for a trip to Lake Pickwick and a few days in Memphis.
And then as quickly as all vacations tend to do...it became time to come home.
Today we drove back, celebrated my mother's 39th birthday at Bonefish Grill and gave her a present that made her cry. She said it was because she liked her gift so much. I hope it wasn't because she was hoping for a trip to Hawaii or something.
Vacations have a way of making us get out of our routines, invest time doing things that we actually like to do, and remind us that life is more than the could-a-would-a-should-a existence that we find ourselves waist-deep in most of the time.
I had time to stop this week and smell the roses...figuratively. I'm just glad that I didn't see or smell the oil...well, other than a little Hawaiian Tropic, perhaps. Life blows by so quickly that we really need to stop sometimes and just put everything on hold. Quit worrying, and do a little reflecting. To take time to listen to a sister describe the plans for her upcoming nuptuals, accept refrigerator art from extraordinarily cute little people and sit on the beach hoping you aren't getting extra crispy while reading ridiculously bad novels.
I pretty much did all of the above.
And now I am home...making sweet tea for my son and listening to Big Dave snoring gently on the couch. My dogs have almost forgiven me for leaving them for a week (although they are probably just mourning the fact that they are here instead of there and I'm in denial) and I'm honestly pretty happy to be sleeping in my own bed tonight.
Life is good. And vacation isn't over until Tuesday. SWEET.