The Suitcase and the Teenage Girl

Want a little chuckle in your day? Tell a teenage girl that she can only take a single, small, carryon size suitcase on a trip. Sit back and watch as she tries to pack. It’s quite amusing.

We had the opportunity to travel to NYC a few weeks ago with a school group and we were told that in order to accommodate such a large group traveling together each and every one of us needed to take nothing larger than an airline carry-on size suitcase in order to try and avoid having to spend time checking and picking up luggage. A collective moan went up around the classroom when the announcement was made. We were going to be up there for a total of four days, of course that size would be just fine. The older women, men and guys in the group had no problems with that restriction. BUT the teenage girls, that statement hit them hard. Along with the size of the luggage was the fact everyone also had to abide with the airline requirement of 3 oz. containers of liquids all contained in a small plastic bag. One could see their brains clicking along thinking of all the things that they just absolutely need and how they could possibly survive for four whole days without some of these things.

I’ve tried to get my daughter to pack light before without much success. She would always overpack and we would end up in a skirmish over how she just couldn’t possibly do without all of these items. And since these were supposed to be vacation moments for me, times to get away from the stress of work, life, bills and such… I would give in and let her take a bigger size. Stressing and arguing over the size of a suitcase just didn’t seem worth it if I wanted to enjoy my brief vacation times. Well, this time the command down to everyone so she couldn’t wheedle and plead her way out of that one. I figured I’d sit back and enjoy the show.

First of all, we were going to New York City, a place where style is first and foremost. Additionally, it was quite cold the weekend that we were there (it was in the 30’s) and we are Floridians. At home, the weather was already in the 70’s and 80’s at this point. Also, it’s kind of hard to imagine cold when our winters only drop down to the 50’s for the most part. My daughter kept trying to pick out stylish clothes that she would wear in warmer weather. I had to keep reining her in to remind her that she needed to focus on warmer clothes, on layering and staying warm. Of course selecting bulkier, warmer clothes tend to take up more space in an already small suitcase leaving very little room for additional clothes. Then she needed to be sure there was room for shoes, toiletries, and certain essentials. It took a while, days actually, she packed, repacked, dumped everything out, and packed yet again. Her room looked like a tornado whipped through it. Every drawer was agape, clothes draped and strewn about. Vials of shampoos, conditioners and makeup littered the dresser counter spaces. Her room literally had a little path leading from the door to the bed where she was packing. My suitcase on the other hand had already been packed and ready to go a week earlier, so I was able to sit back and watch. I think every mother enjoyed watching their daughters struggle with this knowing how many times we’ve tried to convince them that they only needed the bare necessities for a certain event only to be met with extreme resistance.

She did it though. She learned a few tricks along the way such as rolling things vs. folding and tucking items into others. She learned how to maximize the use of every possible space in that small, rectangular box. We even ended up coming home with a few unworn pieces AND was even able to pack in souvenirs that we picked up along the way.

Now that she’s accomplished this, there’s no way I’m allowing her to take a bigger suitcase than the one she used to NYC on a beach vacation. Who knows – I just may limit her to a backpack. That’s not an unreasonable request, I mean, we’re talking about the beach here. All one needs is a bikini, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops and some sunscreen. Should be interesting to see how that one turns out.

NYC – continued…

No trip to NYC is complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty, right? Here we are on a frigid day made even colder by being on the river. It was quite awesome to see this famous statue in the flesh – er… stone?  Anyway, amazing ride around Ellis Island with a breathtaking view of NYC Skyline as well.

 

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Central Park, now that was another one of my favorites on the trip. The day we went there was apparently the first real “warm” day according to New Yorkers. It was actually the equivalent of a Florida winter day but okay, if you say so. The sun was out and the park was absolutely packed with street performers, vendors and people. Everyone just poured out of their homes to enjoy the sunshine and I guess to spend a day outdoors, Central Park is pretty much the only place to go since everything else is buildings and asphalt. Personally, I would have loved to be on my own time that day and do some jogging through the park and do some serious people watching. It WAS a beautiful day. The horse and carriages were out – I saw signs on them that said $3.75 a minute.  What?? Who charges by the minute. Anywhere else it would be something like $25.00 per half hour or something like that, but per minute?? I suppose I could hop on and right off 10 steps down the road. Seriously?! The street performers were fun to watch though, there was pretty much everything from singers to some guy twirling a ribbon. One of the interesting performer I saw was some girl playing a violin while twirling a hula hoop around her waist. Hey, it was entertaining. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of her.

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I would imagine it’s a beautiful place in the summer when everything turns green. In Florida, everything is green and blooming and has been for a good couple of months now. But we did see some signs of the coming Spring here…

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Lincoln Center aka The Met…

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I fell asleep during the opera. Rude, I know and I didn’t mean to but it had been an exhausting couple of days and that night was going to be my night for patrolling the halls in the hotel room to ensure everyone stayed in and asleep. The center was gorgeous though. We went straight there after a whole day of touring without any change of clothes and I definitely felt a bit grungy compared to some of the women I saw there.

One of my favorite theaters was The Amsterdam Theatre. Aladdin was playing, while the show was thoroughly entertaining, I was completely fascinated with the theatre itself. It had been built in the early 1900’s and the detailing that went into the walls and ceilings were amazing. We don’t see anything like that in the new buildings anymore.

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Is that not breathtaking. The detail that went into this theatre…

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. I had tears in my eyes the whole time I was in there. I remember watching the whole horror unfold on television and remember how even in Florida, I got that call that the city was closing down and that I needed to come pick up my daughter who was in pre-school at the time. I cannot even begin to fathom how horrifying the whole experience had to have been for the people living and working right here. Seeing the memorial was special and I’m so grateful that the decision was made to turn this place into a memorial honoring those who lost their lives that day. They did a beautiful job honoring them. Each building has a pool where they once stood and all around the pool are the names of those people who died that day. Even the unborn babies (for the women who were pregnant) were mentioned and I loved that. Another special thing they do to honor these individuals is to place a white rose on the names when it falls on their birthdays.

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We whizzed down on Fifth Avenue. By whizzing, I mean the bus literally zoomed through there. I’m sitting there watching the people shopping and every fiber of my being was itching to yell at the bus driver to just stop and let me out here. You guys can come back for me later. I wanted to stroll and window shop at all these stores. Yes, window shop… somehow I get the feeling that things are just a wee bit out of my price range there. Okay, maybe a lot out of my range, but hey – window shopping is still free.

There was so much we saw and probably still so much more to see. Someday, I would really like to go back on my own time and explore. Another thing to add to my bucket list. Seems that every time I get to cross something off the bucket list, there’s more to add.

If you’re a New Yorker, I’d love to hear your version of how living in NYC is….

NEW YORK CITY!!!

NYC wasn’t necessarily one of the places that I had on my list of places to visit. I think I’d always been somewhat intimidated by New York. Everything I ever read or seen about that city was, quite frankly, overwhelming. I’m more of a beach or nature girl. I usually like things on a slower pace, BUT – big but – I had the opportunity to visit NYC and it turned out to be amazing. If I had visited NYC in my teens or twenties, I could very easily have wanted to move there even for a short while. There’s an incredible energy to the city. It’s fast paced, exciting and never a dull moment.

I went as part of a group (a LARGE group), we were there for four days and the guides took us all over the city in that short period of time. We were able to visit all five boroughs, two broadway shows, one opera and all the key NYC places that most of us hear about on television or movies. It was exciting but also quite exhausting. You see, I was a chaperone and as many of us know – being a chaperone is work. So the trip, while exciting and awesome, was also extremely stressful and tiring. We were the first ones up and the last ones asleep plus the fact that we also had night shifts where we needed to get up for hallway patrol. Smart but probably not necessary since every single day was packed with activity from early in the morning to very late at night so everyone was exhausted by the end of the day. Still… always good to make sure.

Anyway – day one. by the time we went to sleep that first day, many of us had literally been awake for some 23 to 24 hours straight. Exhausting but with the energy NYC has, I didn’t really feel it until I hit the pillows that night. We flew out about 4 am and arrived in NYC three hours later and walked out into frigid 30 degree weather. Remember – we’re Floridians. The weather in Florida for us was already in the 70’s and 80’s. 30 degrees felt quite cold to us, me in particular as I don’t take too well to cold weather. My daughter on the other hand, loved the cold. She thrives on it. We were breathing out “smoke” for most of the time we were there! In Florida, we might wake up on a cold morning where we can see our breath but that never lasts for the whole day, even on our coldest winter days.

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Me – leaving Florida and the view from the plane window as the sun started to come up.

Straight off the plane we headed out to begin our NYC tour.

One of the first places we went to was the Rockefeller center where we were able to see the NYC skyline. I have to say, I fell in love with the whole excitement that is uniquely NYC. There were so many people and they were all moving with a purpose. Being from a southern state, we take things at a much slower pace. Not that we’re lazy, but we do have our moments when we just stroll, whereas everyone I saw in New York seemed to be moving with a definite purpose. Everyone seemed to have a place to get to and in a hurry too.

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One sees this in pictures and movies all the time but it’s just totally awesome when you see it in person for the first time.

New York is an assault on the senses. There’s just no other way to say this. The city literally attacks all your senses. Sight – one just cannot stop looking at everything. There is just too much to see, buildings, people, cars…etc. Smell – there are vendors at every corner, it seems, selling food of all kinds. One also notices the exhaust from all the cars and buses and there are oh so many of them, all fighting for their space on the roads. Taste – so many places to get food. Touch – especially in the theaters, every theatre we saw had velvet covering their seats and walls. All for the sold purpose of acoustics. One can’t resist reaching out and running hands over all the luxurious materials. Sounds – there’s no end to sound, cabs zipping by, buses honking for the cars to get out of the way, people muttering under their breath when they’re trying to get around a large tour group taking up sidewalk space, music coming from street performers… there’s no end to sound in this city.

We ate at Ellen’s Stardust Diner that evening. What a place! I wouldn’t necessarily go for the food but the entertainment was so much fun. The servers are all ambitious, aspiring performers and this diner allows them an opportunity to perform for the patrons. Since the group I was touring with was involved with chorus – they were thrilled to hear many of their favorites being sung and often sang along.

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We ended the day with a performance at the Nederlander Theatre of “Newsies”. These guys put on an awesome performance. There was so much energy and passion going into this show from these actors. Despite how long we had been up that day, we were all enthralled by the performance and easily stayed awake for the whole show.

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It was an absolutely amazing first day in NYC. One that simply will not be forgotten. I’d go back in a heartbeat, but it will have to be on my own time where I’ll be able to really explore every aspect of the city without the responsibility of being a chaperone and the rush of being part of a large group.

Stay tuned for more… and feel free to share your experiences with NYC.

Countdowns

Life is one big countdown.

No matter which way you look at it, we are all counting down toward something. A fellow blogger commented on one of my vacation posts and mentioned her upcoming trip and how the planning for it was just as exciting as the actual traveling itself. I started thinking about how much I love the months and weeks prior to a vacation. The anticipation of going someplace fun, planning for it, preparing…  Knowing that the trip is still ahead of me and dreaming of what could be, may be, will be. It just fills me with excitement. Much like when I was a kid looking forward to Christmas morning.

Christmas – another countdown. The list making, planning and dreaming of what may be coming on that morning. What child hasn’t eagerly marked off the days on a calendar leading up to the day Santa arrives? As parents, we still countdown to that day only in a slightly different way. We plan out the shopping for certain individuals on our lists, coordinate with relatives on the cooking, determine what needs to be done and when so that everything is in place for that day. Then there are the other holidays, birthdays, various events that we all have to look forward to throughout the year.

Not only do we countdown to vacations, events, and other exciting things, but we also have the negative countdown. For me a prime example of that would be actually getting to the vacation and mentally thinking okay, we have a week, 3 days, 2, 1 more before we have to return home. I know that I try hard not to dwell on the fact that a vacation is always so fleeting and that there’s only so much time to experience what the location has to offer, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

As my brain was delving along all these different forms of countdowns, I thought of the biggest one of all, which would be our lifetime. The countdown of our lives to when we move on to our next big adventure.

Right now, I need to get to sleep and I’m looking at the clock thinking okay if I go to bed now, I’ll have at least six and a half hours of sleep before I have to get up. Tomorrow is Friday which means after my eight hours of work, I can finally be free for the next couple of days. Ugh – No wonder we get so stressed and frazzled all the time! We’re constantly checking and counting the years, months, days and hours to something.

Talk to you guys in another 24 hours….

Dream Life

A lot of people have dream homes for when they retire. I have a dream life. I don’t want to be tied down nice and neat to a little apartment or house. I want the freedom to roam, most specifically across Europe. To visit places that have so much history and beauty. Hell, I want to go all over the world, but let’s be realistic here. It takes money and time to do that and I most definitely won’t have much of that, especially the former. So, for right now, I’ll start my dream off with a tour through Europe. When I’m done with that then I can move on to other continents.

I would sell off most of my crap. It’s all it is…crap that weighs people down. Probably keep a couple of properties as rentals so I’ll have some income to finance my travels. Fly out and start off in Spain, maybe along the Andalusian coast. Get a car and travel along the coast. Then move into the interior and visit some of the cities and small towns. Soak up the history of Spain and visit some of the beautiful cathedrals.

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I could see myself staying in a place like this while exploring.

Then I’d move on to France, perhaps. See the Eiffel Tower. So cliche really, but one simply cannot go to France and not at least see the Eiffel Tower. So I just have to see it, travel down along the Seine River and see all the sights. Then take off into the countryside. I would minimize my time spent in really touristy spots and try to soak up as much of the real France as I can. Spend time sipping wine at the sidewalk cafes while writing my book.

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Italy – I refuse to go to Europe without stopping in Italy. It’s always been one of my bucket list of places to visit. If I can’t make it to any other place in the world. I, at least, want to go to Italy. Not that it’s necessarily better than any of the other places, but that it’s simply been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to visit. The Amalfi Coastline is one that I don’t want to miss. The countryside and of course Venice. A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride through Venice.

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Now, Lake Como looks like a place that I could easily fall in love with and never leave.

Then I’d have to jump over to Greece. One of my favorite movies is “Mamma Mia” which was filmed in Greece. I have absolutely loved that movie with its scenic backdrop of the gorgeous blue waters. Since seeing it, I had to add it to my long list of places to visit.

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Could I stay here indefinitely, oh yes.

I found these pictures from the internet – Perhaps one day I will be blogging about my travels and adding my own photos.

For those of you who are already out there living that dream type of a life, you guys have it made. Enjoy every second of your life. I raise my glass of Moscato to you.

Sanibel Island – Day 5

Well the day I had been avoiding is finally here. The day we have to leave for home. While it’s always good to go back home, I’m going to miss this place.

We woke up early this morning to beautiful sunny skies. Went down to the beach for one more long walk and, of course, to find a few more treasures that the ocean washed up overnight. We stayed out there as long as we possibly could before absolutely having to get everything out of the room by check out time.

Once we checked out, we drove by the lighthouse hoping to explore a bit there before officially leaving the island but today was July 4th and everyone was off work and at the public beaches. It was impossible to find a parking place in order to walk over to the lighthouse. We agreed that we would visit it on our next trip down.

Other than that, there’s really nothing much to say except we finally ran out of excuses not to leave. We will be back though. It’s too beautiful and peaceful a place to ignore for long.

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Good bye Sanibel – thank you for taking away my stress.

Being Yourself

Does anyone really understand how important it is to retain your own identity and to remain true to yourself? I do now and I think a lot of people realize it as they get older. Hence the high divorce rates, depression, etc…

The truly lucky ones (or perhaps they’re just wise beyond their years) hold on to their essence and seek out people that share the same feelings and desires.

A fellow blogger read my posts on Sanibel Island and she sent me a link, offering to share your own traveling experiences, to her own site. As I read it, I thought how so very fortunate this couple is to have found each other. They both appear to have the same desires and goals for life and have set out to accomplish it.

My mistake started at 16 years old. I met an older man, one who had a lot of emotional problems. Bi-polar, anxiety attacks, depression, among many other issues. I felt bad for him and wanted to help him move forward. I understand that people have issues that are hard to work through and I want to help them, but in my case I allowed him to change who I was so that life was bearable for him. I wasn’t a trained therapist, I hadn’t even finished high school so how the heck did I really think I was going to help anyone with such complicated issues?

My dreams were to travel. I would have loved nothing more than to have a trusted, loving partner that was willing to pick everything up and just go. Fly somewhere and get lost. Hike, drive, canoe… whatever. Just go and explore the world. I never thought I would settle down in one place at such an early age and wait for  – well what?? retirement? For my parents to need my help? That was years away and yet, it was his excuse. We couldn’t move anywhere because my parents were getting older and I needed to stay and take care of them. Okay, I had every intention of taking care of them, but what about now? Why is it that we have to stay here and wait on that time? I wanted to move. I wanted to go and explore with the free time we had then. We wouldn’t even become parents for another 19 years.

Bottom line was he had experienced so much upheaval in his life coupled with all the emotional issues that he wanted to put down roots and establish a secure, safe place for himself. I had been safe and secure my whole life and was ready to go and seek out adventure. A person who is insecure and scared is going to push the hardest to get his way, so I ended up trying to change myself to fit his life.

He didn’t like the way I dressed. Thought I needed to be more conservative. Okay… I did that.

He didn’t like me having friends. Said friends tend to break up relationships. Fine, eventually friendships drifted away.

Anytime I wanted to try something new, go back to school and further myself in terms of making money and career, he was threatened. Felt that he would lose me if I did so and did everything to discourage it. For love, I settled.

The problem was when one tries to change so much of themselves to fit another person – that change rarely sticks. I didn’t change because I felt I needed to. I changed for him and as the years went by, I slowly but surely slipped back to who I really was. I enjoyed people. I’m a very curious person and will choose to go down that desolate, curvy road just to see where it takes me while he would rather stay on the main road where he could see everything around him. Of course fights started coming more frequently because he felt threatened by me seeking things that he didn’t want anything to do with. I felt more and more suffocated being around him. When we were together, I really had nothing to say to him. He demanded constant togetherness to the point where there was no doing something then coming home and sharing fun stories. I felt as if I were dying inside. My thoughts were that I felt suffocated and trapped with him. We were married for 23 years before I finally broke loose.

This isn’t about a bad marriage or divorce. This is to say just how important it is to know yourself and what you want out of life. And when you know this, seek out people who share those same thoughts and feelings. Don’t settle or change for anyone. It might work out in the short run but rarely for the long run.

Here’s the link to the blog that was sent to me if anyone would like to read it. This couple reminds me of who I would have liked to have been. I may still travel, but I’ll have to wait till my teenager moves on with her life and even then, I still have my mother to worry about so – it may be a while before I can experience that total freedom that I should have grabbed onto those so many years ago.

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To atruetalltale – Go for it and enjoy every moment.