Most of us have been asked at one time or the other what we’re doing for the weekend, and we’ve replied “Oh, heading up to Miami for a couple of days.” The response is invariably “Lucky you!” or “Man…can you take me with you?” and the conversation of how you’d fit them in your suitcase inevitably begins. We all think of this kind of an excursion as a getaway, but after going up to West Palm Beach in May from a Friday-to-Sunday, I realized that it’s anything but relaxing (at least for me.)
Carol and Lynne were flying up with me and we had it all planned perfectly. We would check in online, get to the airport just in time for duty-free and then we’d be winging our way across the Caribbean Sea. The evening before I had gone to Eclipze to get my hair straightened. Although I’d done this once or twice before, I’d never shown my friends in West Palm how truly elegant (ahem) I could look with shiny, straight locks. An hour later I was glossy and fab.
The next morning I woke up to either the sound of a thousand birds on the roof or pouring rain. Of course it was the latter. Overnight I had suddenly become one of those women who yelled “My hair! My hair!” at the slightest hint of moisture in the air, and that morning there was more than a hint. I had thankfully packed my bags already, but I still had to get them into the back of the Expedition. Grabbing an umbrella, I minced my way around the puddles, got the vehicle, and parked it in front of the house. Now I had to get out and stay as dry as possible. As I made every effort to keep the umbrella above me, I nearly stabbed myself in the eye several times much to the amusement of Mark who was on the front step, observing but not really assisting I might add. I was already grumpy and it was still early. Lynne came out with her luggage and with Mark’s help we piled everything into the back of the SUV, trying to find space amongst the karaoke equipment, the disco ball, the DJ deck… I was finally ready to go to the office.
The next spanner in the works was the online check-in system not working. So now we had to physically go to the airport on our lunch hour to check in. I had to do some rearranging in my bags, and it couldn’t wait until later thanks to our new schedule. I would have to brave the rain to get to the car. Unable to do anything with one hand occupied with an umbrella, I finally swallowed my pride and wrapped a grocery bag around my head. Naturally someone I knew was driving by as I ran out looking like a destitute refugee. “NICE LOOK!” he yelled. You have to wonder at the irony – I’m worried about my hair looking frizzy, but I’ll be seen with a plastic bag plastered to my skull.
When we got to the airport I let Lynne park the car so I could keep my hair dry. Yes, I’m an amazing friend. Check-in took longer than we’d hoped because a printer was acting up. So much for lunch, we had to get straight back to work. Lynne and Carol tried to get out of Short-Term Parking, but the machines weren’t working. As they both got soaked trying to get their tickets read, traffic piled up behind them. Eventually assistance came as I helpfully yelled encouragement from my sheltered area. Lynne pulled up to get me, I ran to the passenger door, and stepped in a deceptive puddle, much deeper than I had realized. The hems to the shins of my traveling jeans were now wet through.
We made it to the office and slow but sure, 5:00 p.m. came around. Carol dropped her jeep off nearby and we all piled into my car to start our trip. Traffic was gridlocked in the Industrial Park area; always fun.
Through security and Immigration we went, then it was off to the Duty-Free. We’d barely completed our purchases before the loudspeaker informed us that the flight was already at final boarding call. The three of us skedaddled along the walkway to the waiting jet, and twenty minutes later we were in the air.
The last major hurdle was Immigration in Miami. I always seem to choose the wrong queue, where hidden in front of me are people who’ve managed to make it this close to the American border but it’s doubtful their sketchy paperwork will get them any further. It’s never a good sign when sheaves of paper are combined with wild gesturing and quizzical looks. Lynne and Carol sailed through the US Residents line thanks to their Canadian passports. 30-40 minutes later I finally made it down to Customs where they stood waiting with the bags. Then it was the wait for the rental car bus, and eventually we got on the road around 8:30 p.m.
It was a fun but packed weekend, and we were booked on the late Sunday night flight back to Cayman. We landed shortly after another plane that had come in from Jamaica, so Immigration was a longer process than normal, followed by Customs and then Long-Term parking. We crammed the bags into my vehicle and prepared to make our way home. As a final laugh, the ticket reader on exit was yet again not willing to cooperate. At 10:30 p.m. after a long couple of days it’s amazing how unfunny I found the situation. I reversed, parked the car and had to make my way back over to the terminal building to find assistance. Sensing a woman on the edge, a man kindly came straight over and got us out of there. It was a tired trio that made their way back to their respective homes that night.
Of course now it’s like childbirth (so I’m told) in that the rough parts have faded and I can reflect on the positive. I will naturally head up for another weekend in the near future, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I’m embracing my curly hair so come hell or high water, it will look the same. Oh yeah, and I’m marrying a Canadian or an American ASAP. The lucky guy just doesn’t know it yet.