"If you think adventure dangerous, try routine; its lethal." - Paulo Coelho
On the news today, yesterday, and the day before the numbers and pundits scroll on about the infection rates in Florida. I was not thinking about COVID 19 or the pandemic when I got on a plane to Orlando, Florida on July 27, 2021. I was thinking about seeing the man I love and connecting after a more than six week absence from each other. He was just impressed I'd hop on a plane to be there in less than 24 hours.
At the airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota standing at the gate early on a Tuesday morning, observing the sea of children in various forms of Walt Disney licensed products and their already harried parents, I was extremely grateful I utilized my medallion status to put myself in First Class for this flight in particular. The gate announcer stated over the loudspeaker "We will not be pre-boarding families on this flight, because the flight is mostly children. We'd like to welcome our First Class cabin now, thank you." And I stepped onto the airplane that would soon be 90% children going to Disney World or one of its related resorts in the Orlando area.
Our reservations were in St. Augustine, Florida - the oldest city in the United States as the first location of the Spanish in their conquest of the "New World" for god, gold, spices and country.
I'd never been to St. Augustine, it was historical and very pretty so it was a perfect location for a short 3 night getaway to reconnect before I left and he went to pick up his children for a summer family vacation.
When I got off the plane in Orlando I was greeted by a very busy airport. Every seat in the terminal was full of moving people and children looking tired after some extreme family fun in the hot Florida summer sun and humidity. I booked it to the baggage carousel and the rental car desk using my first class head start to beat any lines that were coming with my and other landing airplanes. I only paused to take photos of the references to Disney World that seemed curious. This was my first time in the Orlando airport, and the last time I had been anywhere near the Disney metropolis since I was 16 years old. There was a certain irony to me voluntarily coming here at the height of summer tourist season.
The Enterprise Rental Car representative handed me my contract at light speed pace and told me to cross the road to the parking lot to pick up my car. I walked quickly passing two large family groups on my way and ran past another who were huddling indecisively. I reached out my rental car contract to the smiling man near the kiosk like I was crossing an Olympic finish line. He pointed to a row of Toyota Corollas and said "Pick one, and drive out. Have a great day." I picked one, loaded my luggage, paired my phone, adjusted my mirrors and was on my way to lovely Melbourne, Florida to pick up my sweetheart and head to St. Augustine. That is, I left after I did three accidental loops around the airport trying to get out and onto the 528 to head East (thank you Google, and its very unclear and delayed instruction).
Five downpours later I was standing in the afternoon heat and humidity of a non-descript Florida condo complex in Palm something Florida picking up Victor from his cousins house where he had been staying since getting to Florida. We headed North to St. Augustine - I let him drive because I had to do a Zoom meeting and work for a couple clients I had to do on our two hour drive. Afternoon thunderstorms along the coast blanketed us the entire way and I held gratitude I wasn't the one navigating through the rain storms. He was a babbling brook of happy to see me and to be out of the chaos of a 3 children+ household and on to a little bit of rest and relaxation after a 5 week hitch on a oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
We hadn't seen each other since early June - I went to Minneapolis for training with the Modern Mystery School, and he went to the ship to work as a Merchant Marine. He did an extra long hitch, then came to Florida to visit family, and I went to the Midwest to do the same plus some extra summer travel. Here we were many weeks later, meeting where neither of us live to enjoy time together in the moment before the next leg of both of our journeys.
When I dialed up the universe to find me a match I said I didn't want a traditional/normal relationship. As in two people who just spend every waking moment together not really doing much remarkable. I was open to us living in different places on the globe even, as long as there would be means for us to be together regularly. I value adventure and independence over stability and predictability. I desired masculine chivalry and spiritual heart over any intellectual accolade or societal status. At the end of the day I desire a partner who can keep up with me, be my friend, and to be someone I can just comfortably be with in the moment and partner with to co-create experiences. As I sat in the car on the way to St. Augustine, the rain pouring over our windshield and my favorite sailor unphased by the surroundings, telling stories about his most recent hitch and visit with relatives and friends in Florida, I smiled knowing both of our prayers were answered for each other.
In our visit to St. Augustine we wandered Old Town and the Spanish Fort, we ate farm to table food and enjoyed a day at the beach resulting in both of us getting a little sunburn.
As we touristed together and took in the dining and night life, you wouldn't know there was a pandemic raging in the world, except for a little bit of local news mentioning the 600 people in the area hospitalized with COVID 19.
On my second day over lunch, we talked about it, and I extended my stay. We made plans to pick up his children and spend the weekend in Orlando to take the kids to Universal Studios theme park. Yet another (and completely different) type of adventure to undertake together.
Let's just say the theme park was overwhelming, the kids including a spirited teenage daughter behaved like pre-teens and teenagers do, and he and I bonded in our ability to survive the ordeal of family fun inside the confines of a giant amusement park during a pandemic. Which, I might add, might as well have not been happening - the only notice that there is one was the constant announcement over the loud speaker in a British accented stating "We highly encourage social distancing, wearing a mask indoors, and washing your hands frequently." I was a broken record about hand washing and not touching ones face, eyes or mouth - but I really didn't win that one with the younger kids. I just doused the kids in hand sanitizer regularly. People however, were extremely nice to each other and friendly. Waiting in a long line for a snack (because the theme park did not have enough employees working to have all concessions open, so concession lines were long.) I chatted with another family who were also experiencing the joy of teenage years with their children. We laughed and declared "Fun is required!"
All the amazing family fun aside, we agreed that next time, we take the kids out into nature - they'll be just as entertained by a lake or the ocean as going on roller coasters and it will save a lot of time in lines, in a state of reaction, and many, many dollars.
As I drove away from our Airbnb condo in Davenport, Florida in the dark light of a 6am Tuesday morning to catch a plane from Orlando to Minneapolis and drive back to the Upper Peninsula - I was very sad to be leaving this experience and all of the people in it. The week had been bigger, longer, and more expansive than I predicted - but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It was so nice to visit and be part of a family ecosystem in partnership with another, enjoying each other's company. Even if I had to get a rapid COVID test in the Minneapolis airport before returning to all of my peeps in the North of Minnesota and Michigan for good measure. Test results showed I didn't even get a common cold, so I'm happy to report that hand washing plus Pfizer vaccine is a winning combo when traveling in massive crowds in today's strange world.
But as my quote at the top of this blog post notes, for me the most deadly thing is to let fear win the day and not seize the moment and travel where my heart takes me. In this case, I hold gratitude that I can choose where and how I go places because I work for myself and I have the means and resources to do it at a moments notice. To live life in the moment is why I live & work as I do, and I am so lucky now to have another willing and able to do that with me.