I am here –> X

Well, I’m not here yet, but I will be next week.

My bossy older sister, Babs, called a few weeks ago and asked what I was planning to do for my birthday this year. I told her, since it falls on a Monday, probably going to work. She said I should do something special this year.

I’m not in the habit of making a big deal over my birthday so I said, “Ok, I’ll buy a cupcake and stick a candle in it.” She didn’t think that was special enough. So she invited me to go on vacation with her and her family.

Well, let me tell you, she goes to some mighty nice places and this was a very generous offer. But I hesitated, really I did, and said, “You know, the kids will be home from school and it’s probably not the best time to go away.” And she said, “So bring the kids. We’ll be there for two weeks — you can come for all or part of that time.”

Hesitation vanished.

I went with Babs to this place once before, over Thanksgiving weekend five years ago. Sorry, I’m not trying to be mysterious, but this involves someone else’s privacy and I promised not to divulge the actual location. I can tell you it is not in the U.S, is closer to the equator than Miami and takes all day to get there from here by airplane. I took some pictures when we were there before and have received permission to post a few of them here. If I don’t break anything, you will see for yourself that it is a paradise.

Let me tell you about a typical day. Breakfast is at 8:00 am. Theory being, I guess, that if you’re going to eat that much wonderful food in one day, it’s best to get an early start. All meals are served at an open air dining area and prepared from fresh local food by a gourmet chef. Yes, really.

The morning hours are occupied lounging about the pool area, engaging in desultory conversation, gazing alternately at the fluffy white clouds and the hypnotic azure water of the Sea of Whatever, listening to the gentle crash of waves on the beach at the bottom of the rocky bluff just beyond the manicured expanse of verdant lawn, and taking an occasional dip in the pool.

And that’s pretty much the schedule for the rest of the day, too, unless you go inside and take a nap. And why would you, when the thick, soft terrycloth-covered pads on those chaise lounges are so comfy? If you feel like getting dressed and finding your shoes, you can go into town and take your time meandering through the myriad small shops, purchasing gorgeous local crafts.

All this leisure activity is interrupted only by a mid-morning snack, a tasty lunch, a late-afternoon snack accompanied by a sampling of the margarita of the day, and then a magnificent dinner. Of course, there is the ever present cooler full of drinks set out by the pool (ice cold bottled water, cokes, lemonade, beer, wine coolers — the content varies with time of day). The day ends with starlit poolside conversation and perhaps a nightcap, accompanied by unobtrusive local music piped in through the invisible outdoor speaker system, the occasional burst of laughter from the kids’ conversation drifting over from the outdoor hot tub.

Food and drink are offered before you can even think to ask, before you even realize you are hungry or thirsty. Clean towels appear in your room twice a day. Your bed is made for you every morning. This picture is the view from the bedroom where I stayed, which faces east and is called, appropriately, the Sunrise Room.

Without a doubt, it is the most decadent experience I’ve ever had. And I was thrilled when my sister invited us to go with them again, because I never expected to get a chance to go back. Really, once was a special treat. Twice? Pinch me.

Now some of you may remember that way back in early October I wrote about how Babs was all impatient for me to finish writing the damn book already so it could get published (yes, I suspect she really thinks it’s that simple — the minute I finish it, it will hit the shelves of her local bookstore). And I said back then that I was sure as soon as she figured out how to speed up the whole process, I’d be hearing from her.

So after I recovered from the initial shock and accepted her invitation, Babs warned, “There’s just one thing.”

I said, “Oh yeah? And what is that?” Even though at this point I really didn’t care.

She said, “While we’re there, I want you to write.”

And here I’d thought it just couldn’t get any better. You have no idea. I nearly wept.

I’ve only got a week, so I have to make good use of my time. But odds are very good that I will indeed finish the damn book next week. Well, the rough draft anyway.

But I am coming back. Really.

Wait, let me check.

Yep, says right here on the ticket confirmation. Round trip. Besides, all that perfection probably causes extreme crankiness after a while.

So I’ll be back. In about a week.

Really, I will.

I’m debating whether to explain to Babs how I’m probably going to need an agent.


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33 responses to “I am here –> X

  1. McB

    That sound you hear is the drool dripping off of my chin. Boy could I use a place like that. Really, I’m small I’ll fit in a big suitcase. You don’t have to tell me where we’re going or where we are. Blindfolds acceptable. Earplugs too. Just give me enough notice to grab some books. I’ll sit in a corner and nobody will know I’m there. Just throw a nibble my way once in a while, or accidentally-on-purpose leave your margarita behind when you go.

    I am soooo flexible you have no idea.

    Hey, you have a GREAT TIME but don’t relax too much. You have to finish that book.


  2. btuda

    Remind me to never feel sorry for you on your birthday ever again.

    I’m even jealous you have pictures that awesome.

    Have a great time. We’ll be here when you come back to gloat. And have a Happy Birthday too!



  3. Margaret

    I am SO envious I could spit!

    And VERY happy that you get to go on such a wonderful vacation.

    Please take good pics to share with us common folk!

    And for Bob’s sake, have a couple of drinks for us, too. And some food.

    Happy Birthday! This may be one of the best yet!


  4. Sheryl

    I’m so thrilled for you, enjoy every stinkin hot moment of it. Don’t swat away too many cabana boys. You can use them for research. Be safe, have fun, come home with the book done!


  5. raining in wapak-woman

    Where ever it is that you are going- I want to go there when you get back. Oh yes, that is my kind of place.
    Have a great birthday, don’t get sunburned in places that usually don’t see the sun, and don’t drop the laptop in the pool when you fall asleep!
    I am as green as the little face beside Bryan’s name with envy!!!


  6. andi

    hooooo-weee! See, I wouldn’t be allowed to come with my redneck envy! That looks heavenly, let the creativity gush! Give your kids free access to virgin pina-colodas, and soak up some luxury! I’d say Happy Birthday, but really with that vacation is it necessary!


  7. orangehands

    she thinks she’s going to come back. uh-huh.

    gorgeous. absolutely beautiful. enjoy yourself.


  8. McB

    Poor thing. Left in such a hurry she never did get her house decorated for the holidays. Well let’s just see what we can do about that …. eggnog anyone?


  9. Mary

    Ooh… someone’s already spiked the eggnog. Too bad I didn’t know that before I emptied the brandy bottle into the bowl. Oh well, probably no one will notice.

    You know, I think it’s so limiting to just restrict tinsel to the tree itself. Why not scatter it hither and thither? That way she’ll come back to find lots o’ BSTs everywhere. Whoops. Sorry about that, McB. Still, tinsel looks good with your outfit.

    Okay, who brought the pole? Somebody ‘fess up before Zaza notices it’s missing from the B&G.

    (Bright Shiny Things)


  10. McB

    Falalalalalal … (*carefully parts the thatch of tinsel covering her eyes*) hey, there’s eggnog in my brandy.

    Mary, here’s some ribbon to wind around the pole. Is anyone else coming?


  11. Mary

    Oh dear. Did we give them the right directions? Maybe the map was upside down.

    Oh well. More room for me to hop about as I wind the ribbon all around the pole.


  12. Lori

    Wow, looking good in here.

    I brought popcorn and cranberries. I love edible decorations. I’ll start stringing them over here if you’ll just pass the branog please.


  13. Theresa in a new 'burgh

    Ya know, I really think we should bake some cookies. Ah, here’s one of my favorite recipes … snickerdoodles. That cinnamony smell always gets me in the holiday spirit, and we can nibble as we decorate. (I’m sure that bcb won’t mind a bit of sugar and flour in her kitchen.) And on my way here, I stopped for some hot chocolate and some bottles of cinnamon and peppermit schnapps. Anyone? I’ve got the kettle on.

    Ok, who has the icicles? I always get to hang the icicles.


  14. K.L.

    I hope nobody minds that I strung the colored lights from the pole around to the corners of the room. I think I also wound them around one of the delivery boys. Not sure what he was delivering, but I would be willing to accept. I need a refill.


  15. Bryan

    You put brandy in the eggnog? I wonder how that will mix with the Captain Morgan I put in it earlier?

    Hmm. Not bad. Did anybody bring a pole? Ah, good, it’s decorated. How cool is that.

    mskvjl – How you pronounce mischievous after a few of those eggnogs.

    aupjcix – How you pronounce your breakfast cereal the day after those eggnogs.


  16. McB

    Hey Bryan, be careful with the tree …


    Um, could somebody find a piece of cardboard to tape over that window pane, please?


  17. Diane (TT)

    Sounds like the eggnog is almost ready – all it needs is a little bourbon (seriously, my grandfather’s eggnog recipe uses all three, so that’s what I do for parties). And a nice nutmeg grater for those of us who sprinkle.

    I brought some LED sensor-operated candles to put in the windows, so BCB can find her way home at night (we’ll HOPE it’s the candles,and not the smoke pouring out of the windows this time!).

    egffpfpr: except gin, fine flavors provide festive properties righteously (my other grandfather, who had NO CLUE, would put gin in eggnog)


  18. Margaret

    Oh, it’s a good thing I brought lots of mistletoe! We can hang some here, and over here, and over here.. After all, BCB may bring back a cabana boy or two, and we’d want them to feel welcome, wouldn’t we?


  19. McB

    Ahrighty, let’s get some tunes going here. I’ve got: Porky Pig’s “Blue Christmas” (which is the only verions I really like), The Chipmunks, Grandmother Got Run Over By a Reindeer, and the Hanukkah Song. That should get the mood going.

    zcrjn: Zee Cherryboms ring joyous notes


  20. Scope Dope Cherrybomb

    too bad her kids are along she may not be able to knoodle with the cabana boys after all.

    Love that egg nog. I just put in the rest of the bottle of rum I had from Christmas last year. Can’t believe I forgot I had it. Oh weel, how bout we add some Baileys? Why not said she as she does.

    You guys decorate I will test the egg nog for you just to make sure it is perfect you understan…

    wnreavft When really enebriated always vomit facing toilet. Very important to remember.


  21. wapakwoman

    Oh boy, a decorating party! I’ll make the little gingerbread men, after the snickerdoodles are done. Should we make them look like cabana boys?
    I have a really bad habit of eating all the heads off. Do you think she will notice?
    Maybe if I hide them in the tinsel she won’t see them for a while.
    Or we could tie them all to the pole.
    I;ll be back, I forgot all the fake snow that is so neato to throw everywhere. It is so festive!


  22. Sheryl

    I’m not a big fan of eggnog but it sure is festive in here. It smells like cookies and booze and Christmas. *takes a deep breath* Yep, I’d say we’re off to a good start. I have a pine cones and orange slice wreath we can hang on the door. And a star for the top of the pole. It blinks.


  23. Lori

    It jus’ keeps lookin’ betder and betder.

    Uh, when did the second pole come? I don’t think it was here before that last glass of ‘nog.


  24. Sheryl

    Lori, there’s three of them. The North Pole, the South Pole and yours. Your’s is the prettiest, the others are kinda cold and your skin sticks to it when you try to twirl around it. Very painful. I need a shot of Baileys just to dull the sting.


  25. Sheryl

    Ouch. I may have peeled some skin from my thighs. Just pass me the bottle. Thanks MCB that was most thoughtful of you. I never thought of tequila as a Christmas drink before. I hope BCB is having a good time without us. :sigh:


  26. Mary

    I think BicB will be delighted with the new look. It’s certainly festive. CMS, if you need a massage, we could always untangle that delivery man who’s been wrapped up in the lights all this time. He was looked peckish, so I brought him some cookies. (Okay, Bryan, get your mind up out of the gutter, I meant some of Theresa Newburgh’s snickerdoodles and a headless gingerbread man from Wapak.)

    The dance music is great but… um… ScopeDope? How shall I put this. When people refer to dancing as “cutting a rug” they don’t mean it literally, m’dear. Those high heeled stilletos are too sharp for this carpet. Nice dance moves, though.

    And listen up, all of you. No one is to bring the lighted candles anywhere near the eggnog (sic) bowl. That would probably cause a fireball that would take out the roof, and there aren’t any moles in the neighborhood for us to blame it on.

    Now, I wonder if any of those brightly wrapped presents under the tree has my name on it…

    oysso – cry of the lost deliveryman, upon receiving lots of nice friendly cookies


  27. McB

    Ah, Mary. You can tell romance readers. They’re the only ones who actually use the word “peckish”.


  28. Sheryl

    C-o-o-k-i-e-s? Deliveryman? Massage? how kind of you Mary. That’s exactlywhat I wanted for Christmas. Just give me a moment, I’m pretty sure there was a surfer wrapped up somewhere over here asking for you.


  29. Bryan

    Ooh boy. I can barely remember this weekend and it feels like I banged my head on the pole. Any eggnog left?

    Anybody want breakfast? I’ll make some pancakes. Oops. No worries. I dropped it, I’ll clean it up. Okay… that’s not good… you know, if any of you are awake, you should have told me that spraying cleaner on dry pancake mix was a bad idea. Now it’s just getting goopey.

    Oh crap, there goes the bucket.

    Um, guys? The kitchen should probably be off limits until this stuff dries a bit. The floor is like one big sticky pancake now.

    Anybody want pizza?


  30. btuda

    Sorry, I’m late. I brought muffins to tide everyone over until the pizza gets here. Looks good, everyone!

    I found more garland and some rope lights — ooh, cool! One of the poles lights up, and not just with the star on top.

    I got the kitchen taken care off. My DH left the leafblower in the trunk of my car and I blasted everything clean and out the door. Just don’t go into the garage. Or look under the rug. Or in the closet.

    It looks like more cookies and booze just arrived. Um, who’s going to sign for the booze?

    I spoke with the guy from the internet who choreographed his Christmas lights to music. He should be here later this afternoon. With 50,000 LED bulbs. They are re-routing air traffic as we speak.

    Looks like things are ready for the next round!


  31. btuda

    Oops, I stand corrected. The lights are good for any and all holidays this season.

    I just hope the traffic doesn’t distract Jen-t.


  32. Mary

    Btuda, no worries. I signed for the booze. In BCB’s name, of course, this being her place I felt that was the only honorable thing to do. I’m sure she’ll understand.

    What I don’t understand is where CMS and that deliveryman have disappeared to. And why one of the poles has a thong hanging from the top. And why the couch is covered with guacamole. I know some people like the avocado look, but this is carrying it a bit too far.



  33. Sheryl

    Hmmm, I’m starving, is the pizza here? Too bad about the pancakes. I have maple syrup. Ooooo more pretty lights. The party continues. Don’t you just love this time of year, haging out with friends, laughing, talking, dancing, mistletoe…