It came as no surprise. Still, the feeling of excitement and release was palpable as I dropped Lucy for boarding. It was time for getting away after sixteen months of COVID restrictions. I was on my way to a beach escape with my best friend.
I had experienced a rollercoaster of emotion since adding the trip to my calendar. My best friend, Robbie, and I had cancelled our annual birthday and beach vacations last year due to the pandemic. We had reluctantly determined to skip both again this year – confident that we could safely enjoy the holidays together by year end. However, claustrophobia and isolation were wearing us down. A growing sense of loneliness was having an adverse effect on daily living – especially for me as I was completely alone. When vaccines were finally accessible and we were both fully immunized, we decided to take a chance.
We opted for a hotel stay rather than a beach rental at my suggestion. I thought that the large hotel chains would be better equipped to handle the necessary health modifications mandated by COVID-19 guidelines and would have more to lose if they did not follow procedures. We agreed upon a beach and a hotel, and the reservations were made. I remained a bit more wary than Robbie and suffered more apprehension and less excitement than usual as the trip drew near.
Yet, all lingering doubts disappeared as I left Lucy in the care of others. I quickly realized I faced five days and four nights away from my home and with no responsibility whatsoever. The beach beckoned, and I was finally more than ready to embrace the opportunity.
I returned to my vehicle and embarked upon a leisurely adventure. My last road trip had been sixteen months prior to this. However, that had been part of my Two Minus One: A Memoir Book Tour, and I had been on a tight schedule. I was in no rush today as Robbie would not arrive until late afternoon and I was only two hours from my destination. For now, I had no itinerary and savored the thought of an unharried drive. I perused shops and establishments that had been off limits just a short time before. I enjoyed a quiet lunch outdoors at a favorite spot. I took pleasure in the fact that I did not need a face mask and relished my time alone.
As expected, I arrived at the hotel before Robbie and checked in. I unloaded my belongings, logged onto the internet, and adjusted the air conditioning so we would be comfortable throughout our stay. Exploring the grounds and enjoying the view made the remaining time pass quickly. Robbie arrived before long, and we retrieved her things from the car. We uncorked a bottle of wine, then cheered our good fortune and our friendship as our time together officially began. An evening of conversation and the exchange of the traditional beach and birthday gifts afforded the opportunity to unwind and relax. We realized all too soon, that we were becoming sleepy and readied for bed.
In the morning, we awoke refreshed, without an alarm, and eager for the new day. We chatted amicably as we collected the necessary items for a day on the beach. We enjoyed a stroll along the sand, a nap in our chairs, and the quiet camaraderie treasured by dear friends. As the sunlight faded, we moved toward the restaurant patio for food and beverages before heading back to our room. The evening passed with hot showers and shared retrospection. Once more, it was time to retire.
Robbie and I took great pleasure in four full days of this tranquil routine. We prized each shared special moment and grew ever more relaxed with each passing day. We appreciated that our most demanding decisions were choices between the beach or pool, books or magazines, wine or mimosas. We became increasingly comfortable in different environments and secure in the idea of additional trips in our future. For a time, the pandemic – and concerns for health and safety – were not weighing heavily on our minds. The time together outweighed any real or imagined risk incurred. We were able to focus only on the pleasure of our situation and to replenish our mindset. All too soon, our time together was over, and we departed with only memories. As we said our goodbyes and shared a long overdue embrace, we were eagerly anticipating our next adventure together.
Have you had a chance to experience a long overdue outing after COVID-19 restrictions? Would you like to share your feelings, concerns, insights? I always love to hear from you.