Every year about this time…
It’s officially spring, according to the calendar, even though it’s still not very warm yet. However, local forecasts say that we’re supposed to enjoy temperatures near 60° today, but they could have fooled me. I’ll believe it when I feel it!
Anyway, it’s that time of the year when the mass exodus to parts warm and sunny begins in earnest for folks in the northern climes. It’s called spring break. And though we just returned from our own wonderful sojourn to warm and sunny Florida and Texas, I can’t help but think about all of those other spring breaks to Florida we enjoyed for so many years during my teaching career.
And we definitely had the spring break ritual down pat as we prepared to get on down to Florida, year after year. It was always the same: Carolyn, our two kids, and dog(s), would be waiting in my school’s parking lot at 3:00 on the final Friday before spring break.
As soon as the last bell would sound, I would hurry out of school, hop in behind the wheel of our waiting van, and start out on our twenty-four hour drive—straight through—down to Stuart, and later Sarasota, Florida, where Carolyn’s mom and dad resided.
We were young then and were never daunted by the wear and tear that a straight-through drive like that inflicts on a person! That was always part of the adventure, I thought.
Furthermore, trying to leave Chicagoland at 3:00 on the Friday at the start of spring break was (and still is, I would imagine!) basically insane. It was always a slow crawl as we edged along, reaching the tollway to connect to I-65 and points south.
Of course, it seemed as though everyone else under the sun was doing the same thing. And if there were other factors, such as construction issues or ridiculous drivers, our pace was slowed even more.
Regardless, there was always a sort of festive atmosphere amongst the passengers in our Ford Econoline all those years ago, and we knew that every turn of the tires took us that much closer to our sunny southern destination and a week’s worth of fun and sun.
Writing this now from our small town in northern Illinois, I feel a million miles away from those exciting days when spring break rolled around. If nothing else, it was an annual family adventure, laden with laughter, nonsense, and togetherness.
Perhaps thinking such thoughts this morning is another little sign that I’m realizing my status as a senior citizen (how can that be, really?). And, I suppose, there’s that inevitable stream of nostalgia that tends to creep in to my daily life more and more frequently.
Both kids grew up, married, have lives of their own now. We see them—never as often as I’d like—but that’s how it goes in this wonderful pageant that is life. Carolyn’s mom and dad had to give up their Florida place several years ago due to failing health. They’re both gone now, and it never seems quite right being in Florida without their presence. And it can truly be said that they made spring breaks a wonderful thing for us—for so many years!
And maybe that’s why each year about this time, recalling those many spring break adventures, and the long, long drives involved, is so special. If it were possible, I would love to be eagerly anticipating 3:00 this coming Friday in my old school’s parking lot. Alas, I’ll have to settle for the rembrances of another time.
Happy spring break, lucky ones…