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3 Days in Florida

I recently went on vacation to Florida. It was definitely the celebration that got me there. No offense to anyone who lives there but DANG! There is no way I want to be in Florida in July EVER again. The air was thick with heat and water molecules bigger than my nostrils – at least that’s how it felt. I appreciated the cooler air-conditioned spaces in a different way… not just for the drop in temperature, but for the relief of encountering air molecules that fit. I never noticed before that less humid air was easier to breathe.

I call this vacation spot, “the happiest place on earth south.” Yet walking around for 10-12 hours each day in the hot, humid atmosphere, waiting 30-90 minutes for a 90 second ride, watching grown-ups looking bewildered and hearing children squealing, made me wonder what was the “happy” part. I honestly don’t remember seeing one baby smile. Not one. In retrospect, it’s amazing how often we were cramped into spaces that required the ultimate trust that the powers-that-be had our best interests at heart. Every queue was a disaster waiting to happen and yet we mindlessly followed the person in front of us. Mindlessly gave up our personal spaces most often to strangers.

Don’t get me wrong, there were memorable (in a good way) times. There were giggles shared – like when the safari tour guide talked about the animals “here in the wild.” SMH.

There were more times, though, that I realized I was experiencing the greater condition of society in this microcosm. So much of the “me first” mentality. So much pushing and jockeying for position for self and children. So much pressure on parents to assure that their kids had a good time. Somewhere along the line, we bought into this happiness notion and ran with it. These people were NOT happy. They were struggling – struggling to get their money’s worth, to take the right pictures, to buy the right souvenirs. I saw one kid “playfully” punch his mother in the chest while she rolled her eyes at him and ignored him for the next few minutes. I saw teenage girls who intentionally yelled at their parents and then giggled with each other. I heard kids tell their grown-ups what they weren’t going to do.

My other neighbors had interesting eating habits as well. One kid poured Sweet ‘n Low in his orange juice while another slathered his toast with butter and sugar. Another kid insisted on having pineapple juice and while his mom was away getting that for him, he knocked his sister off her chair and jumped on her back while she lay on the floor. Another girl, at a more formal restaurant, stood up in the middle of the main course and jumped up and down with a mouth full of food. When she sat down she slid down the chair until she laid on it sideways. She sat upright when the conversation turned to dessert options.

Besides all that, I had my favorite attractions. I was awed by fireworks and stunts. I got drenched on a water rapids ride and enjoyed riding through pirate hangouts. But in the end, to sum up my experience, my new 5 year old friend looked earnestly at me with those big brown playful eyes and said out of the blue while shaking her head, “Mickey Mouse is not real.” Amen sister.

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