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I’ve learned to redefine what it takes to enjoy a vacation. Enjoyment and enough being the key word here.  Non stop activity has largely vanished as something to be desired or enjoyed while vacationing.  It’s been replaced  by a more laissez faire point of view.  

In the mornings, no longer do I have to hit the streets running which is good because that would literally be an impossibility with asthma and hip bursitis.   It’s rather delicious to linger in the morning for much too  long  over my cup-o’tea.  I can  leisurely check my email, stare at the beautiful color of apple green that I painted on an outside wall, and idly wonder what happened to the butterflies that were supposed to be inhabiting the butterfly garden in front of my house.  They were here en masse the last time we visited.  At some point, it will feel right to take a shower and consider making  the bed while deciding which colorful t-shirt to wear to complement this bright and  sunny day.

The need to get some batteries or any thing I’ve noticed I’m out of can become a jumping off point for a feigned important expedition and a reason to leave my comfie house.  A neighborhood hardware store provides an endless source for exploration. The outing can easily segue way into lunch.  While eating lunch, I idly pick up one of the local weekly papers advertising all kinds of banal tourist activities, none of which interests me in the least, but you never know. I’m always up to looking for a few new plants at a nursery outlet, or a good garage sale which can be the source of another “outing.”

The plants grow at exponential rates of speed in tropical Florida and it’s quite satisfying to note how large they’re getting (like a child you haven’t seen for a while)  and then pick a few of their spectacular leaves or fanciful flowers  to transform a few empty vases still languishing at home. Satisfying and Enough.

At some point in mid afternoon it’s perfectly ok, if I’m feeling a bit sleepy to lay down in an air-conditioned bedroom and take a sweet nap. I wrap myself in a light weight cover to keep off the chill.  It’s blissful.

When my nap is over, it’s time for a leisurely but decent long walk to the beach to admire the prowess of the diving pelicans, note the impossible-to-describe color of the water and watch the windsurfers risk their life and limbs..  The nice pier is a fine  place to do some chi gong too.

On the way to the ocean, walking by the established gardens, it’s easy enough to snip off a few small branches of someone else’s overgrown shrubs or alluring flowers for my own viewing pleasure when I get home.  If it’s a day when the gardeners have been in the yards, there are many botanical treasures to be claimed before the city trucks haul the discarded greenery away.  Just recycling at its finest.

After 5 pm it’s cocktail hour.  Vodka/tonic seems to fit in very well with my mellow feeling here. If there’s a bartender in the vicinity, I’ll go for a mojito to celebrate the local Cuban heritage.

Key West is  a chatty place at a bar and people are friendly if you’re in the mood to be social.  A few days ago I had to endure an older man look at me, then ask my husband  “Where didja find that young’un?” shmuck.  Although he was quite satisfied with himself laughing at his own sense of humor, no need to get to know him any better.  I could take him out sooner than the iguana who only opens his mouth to eat flowers and petals.

There’s great freedom on vacation if you have no small children or over eager guests to entertain. By now, my husband and I are comfortable being together or just doing our own thing. There’s a lot of latitude in that.

Here’s my short list of do’s and don’ts than can be adjusted according to your needs. Feel free to tell me what you’d add or subtract!

  1.  Try to find one thing a day that compels you to leave the house.
  2. Enjoy scanning the same blank faces of those leaving the cruise ships for a day on the town. Feel self satisfied and thankful that you haven’t partaken in their odyssey.   Half of them will be drunk by noon, the remainder nursing bad sunburns as they all have one day here to figure out the mystique of Key West and that’s impossible. Scorn becomes compassion. Poor dears.
  3. Do find a good book or two to read.  Do resurrect a craft you did at an earlier time in your life. It’s surprisingly satisfying and will instantly make you feel productive. Buy a sewing machine if necessary for hours of frustration and creativity.
  4. Do not participate in your neighbor’s plans to eradicate local iguanas.  They are hideous creatures, playing the role that destructive deer play in colder climates, easily destroying a garden.  I just know it’s bad karma to murder them in cold blood.  And I could never do it, I have a hard enough time with a cockroach.  And, what if it went after me?
  5. Look into sporting a Tommy Bahamas’ one piece bathing suit.  Ideally wear only in the privacy of your own home, but if unavoidable probably ok at the beach.  Other than that, the bathing suit  has enough flair and a decent fit so as not to be immediately labeled as frumpy and who are we kidding anyway?  The days when anyone paid the slightest bit of attention to me in a bathing suit are long gone. bye-bye.


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

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