During these unprecedented times our country’s greatest strengths are brimming with irony as our greatest weaknesses while incongruent national, state, county and city crisis protocols leave us twisted in confusion. Americans are left grieving over the lives they once led amid the certainty of routines and are clamoring for direction. I’m leaning on lessons learned from blizzards circa 2004 rather than The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.
Yes, I did reference blizzards over the wallop of hurricanes that hit us that same year. Most Florida youngsters begged to join in the pilgrimage to the coast for a week with parents coordinating dates and neighboring hotel rooms creating a utopia of sunset cookouts, bonfires and overall giddiness on a reasonable budget. Not our boys. They told us they loved snowboarding more than “anything else in life,” and that they would rather give up family vacation for years to go snowskiing, just once, than go to the beach each summer. Brian and I were quick to agree given we were still reeling from Hurricane Charley……well technically, hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
We planned for Christmas on the slopes of Breckenridge and recruited the entire clan. Flying in from different parts of the USA, incorporating various preferences of where to stay…..a litiny of vacation days were added, work calendars were cleared and bags were packed. The big travel day arrived (only sneakers were a threat and smiles abundant at MCO).
Inclement weather forced the Coloroda bound flights to land. Ours in St. Louis, brother, in Atlanta and sister, Minneapolis. Just like today’s Covid-19 world, we were all a twitter of group texts. We added ourselves as links to serpentine lines wrapping around airline counters in our respective cities joining in the cacophony of questions, “When’s the next flight out? Will I get a refund? I’m supposed to be there, tonight!” Worn down and deflated, travelers opened their calendars and deleted days from it, just as we’ve all done during Covid. A sliver of hope shined as the family in Atlanta did get booked on a red-eye and bumped to first class. Alas, that was because of my sister-in-law’s baby bump. Oh, I still had baby fat from a decade ago, but not enough to feign pregnancy.
Close to scrapping the trip all together and using it as a lesson that spending summers at the beach like everyone else would have been better, I stepped up to the counter. For hours, I had heard the same question asked over and over, how can I get to Denver? I decide to say the opposite.
“Where can you fly us?” I asked. The woman started to give the pattented response recited dozens of times. She startled a bit when my words sunk in and perked up eager to please. This was a request she could meet!
We settled on Las Vegas. Rather than erasing a week from our itinerary, we added a layover in Vegas where my Minneapolis could send my sister. The next morning we were all piled in a cab to tour a few resorts when one son asked, “How far is it from here to Breckenridge?”
The epiphany hit simultaneously. Within an hour we rented a SUV bound for Breck! The blizzards blocked all the travel coming from the east, but the roads and slopes were clear on the west and it took us less time to drive there than to wait for a flight. It was a spectacular road trip with laughter and inside jokes that culminated with warm hugs of reunion with our parents. The slopes were empty and we had the most spectacular vacation, together, thanks to asking the opposite.
I hope each of us will give ourselves the chance to do the same during Covid. Instead of bemoaning what we cannot do, start asking what we CAN do and whether we’re zooming, working, parenting, hiking, walking, cycling, riding, golfing, exercising or reading in a room filled with natural light, trust Protect Your Tail to block UV rays while maintaining comfort and style.