I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Missing my home

Beautiful beach and sky
I woke yesterday realizing that I am on the final stretch of my vacation in Florida. Tuesday I will return home. And as hard as it may be to believe, I am missing Bellingham and my partner enough that leaving this place behind won't be difficult. I could not have imagined that when I first got here, because I was more than a little tired of all the rain at home.

When I arrived last Monday, the weather could not have been more perfect: in the mid-70s (23°C) and sunny, but every day it has gotten a little warmer until yesterday's 86 (30°C) just wore me out. I was forced to stay inside because the heat and humidity became so intense. Every day that I have been here has made me miss my normal environment a little bit more. I know that might seem odd to those who are craving some sunshine. We are no strangers to humidity in Bellingham, but when the temperature is 67 and the dew point is 68 (as it was yesterday when we walked), I was covered in moisture and exercising wasn't pleasant, even when it was not very warm.

Does it sound like complaining? I don't mean to, but it makes me realize that sometimes you need to get away from your regular environment to see it for what it really is. I've never done well with heat, but it hasn't bothered me like it is right now. Of course, I'm no spring chicken and it's been fourteen months since I've dealt with the Florida heat, but frankly I cannot imagine living here year round. I'd wilt like a hothouse flower in no time.

But in between I've truly enjoyed the time with Norma Jean. She is getting more and more fit as time goes by, and yesterday she slowed her long walk so that I wouldn't have to keep running to catch up. Today I took a break from exercising; she's out there walking as I write this post. I thought I knew how to walk fast, but I cannot keep up with her pace. If she were out there with my Saturday walking group, she would be far in front with the fastest walkers, while I'd be staying with the middle group. (We usually separate out into the fastest, middle, and slowest walkers within a few minutes.)

It's a little disconcerting to be feeling like a drag on her activity, but she doesn't seem to mind. We've been doing this for so long, and it does make me wonder if I could ever learn to increase my pace until, miraculously one day, I might actually keep up! She wasn't sure whether she has slowed down or not, but I was able to reassure her that, if anything, the opposite is true. Of course, who knows whether it's just me that is different? However, the ladies that I usually walk with on Saturdays give me a baseline, and that hasn't changed.

I've been a little under the weather. I don't know whether it had anything to do with the sore throat I had last week, but I've been fighting with chest congestion that has gotten worse ever since I got here. Today is the first day that it seems like I might be over the worst of it. Swimming has been delightful every morning during the last week, and since I'm lap swimming by myself, there is nobody to try to keep up with. Norma Jean swims for an entire mile, and I have managed to make a solid twenty minutes and then I'm done. I shower and enter the main section of the gym and ride a stationary bike, like I do at home, until she comes out.

And then it's home to a wonderful breakfast prepared by her son Peter. Norma Jean doesn't cook for herself any more, since Peter seems to enjoy keeping his culinary skills sharp and taking care of his mom in this manner. I have certainly been enjoying the fantastic omelets he makes. Since I have been keeping this blog for awhile, I should go back and look at how things have changed over the years. I know that in past visits she would fix me a kale smoothie for breakfast that I enjoyed immensely, but I don't even see her Vitamix sitting around the kitchen any longer.

I miss my own routine, but in no time at all I will be back home and remembering this time as if it were a dream. So I really need to soak in all the sunshine and blue skies before I return. Peter wants us to go to Busch Gardens tomorrow, so I'll be out in the sunshine and riding roller coasters and other exciting stuff in this Florida theme park. It's been a long time since I've ridden one, but apparently this place has dozens to choose from. It gives me a little thrill to think of getting on one after all these years. And then the following day, Tuesday, I'll return home late at night after another long day of travel.

So that's the state of my annual visit to Florida; it's still in progress but I'm beginning to shift back into the life I've been leading in Bellingham. I miss my friends and partner, but they will hopefully still be there when I get back, and the coffee shop crowd will be a welcome sight. Funny to feel like I've got a foot in each world. I must remember that it's important to be totally present wherever I am. Otherwise, I'll not be able to enjoy each day to the fullest.
No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
Yep, that's right. My pillow is waiting for me. In the meantime, I've got adventures and delightful companions to enjoy. I hope you will remember to spend some time realizing how fortunate we are, alive right here, right now, with the wonders of the internet joining us together. And don't forget to hug your loved ones, even if it's only a virtual hug, and let gratitude fill your soul. Be well until we meet next week.


Marie Smith said...

I find it harder to be away from our set routine as I get older. Shorter trips work better for me. That’s not possible when you have to travel across a continent however. I hope you are feeling better for these last two days with your family.

Linda Reeder said...

DJan, it's sunny here! For the second day in a row we are getting up to almost clear skies! It is 32.6 degrees though, but with a few layers, perfect for walking. It looks like the weather will be dry through the week, so you can look forward to your hike on Thursday.
I love traveling, but I always love coming home too. I have not been to Florida, and mostly because of the humidity. I can handle the dry desert southwest and love to travel there in spring or fall. Right now I am happy to be home. We worked for a few hours in the yard yesterday and will again today. When we are inside, Olympic events fill our big screen TV. All is good in the PNW.
Have fun for your last few days, and safe travels back home.

Marty Damon said...

I'm here in Florida, too, although it's for our four-month stint. And even though I think I'm in another part of the state than you, it's been getting much warmer lately and I'm trying to adjust to it.
I've been feeling unaccountably impatient with everything lately so I needed your gentle reminder to appreciate the fact that I'm not back in Massachusetts with the cold.

Rian said...

So glad you are enjoying your visit, DJan. Sharing time with family and making memories is important. We lived in Florida (Satellite beach and Palm Bay) for 2 years back in 1968-70. I like Florida, but prefer to visit and not live there. My dad and his family settled in Jacksonville, Florida when they first came over from England. They later moved to New Orleans where I was born and raised. I actually like the humidity... find it very relaxing. But I do agree with you as far as 'viva la difference' (nice to be able to enjoy different worlds).

Anonymous said...

You would die over here in Hawaii. Lol.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'm so glad you are enjoying your 20-minute laps in the pool and then the stationary bike. I believe that exercise is essential to you. It lifts your spirits and keeps you always striving forward. You are, as I've said before, an inspiration to me in many ways--one of them is exercise! Of course, your most enjoyment is just being with your beloved sister.

Today in my posting I get a little like you in that I meditated on the life I led for 53 years. What I admitted to is that I spent those years living in the past. So I had both shoes planted there--the present was but a sheer curtain through which I looked at the past.

I hope your plane ride home to Bellingham goes well. Your pillow, your loved one, and your friends await you there. I bet they have missed you as much as you've missed them. Peace.

Gigi said...

As someone who isn't used to the high heat and high humidity I can easily see you wilting! I'm one of the ones who craves sunshine; but I can easily understand how you are missing your own environment.

Before you know it you'll be back home among friends and loved ones. Safe travels. Sending you a virtual hug.

Arkansas Patti said...

We do get comfortable in our routines don't we? Oddly I have found Arkansas actually hotter in the summer than Florida ever was. I think if you were feeling better, the heat wouldn't seem so bad. Enjoy Busch Gardens. Maybe you will see Jack Hanna. I enjoyed the animals there and the monorail ride over the enclosures. Also enjoyed the free beer but that was another time.
Have fun keeping up with your sister, those great breakfasts and do feel much better soon.

Red said...

We can get used to hot weather. I hate hot weather and don't do well in it but I'm sure I could get used to it. I get used to cold weather and can be out and enjoy myself.

Hilary said...

Yes, bottom line: there is no place like home....no matter where it is.

The Furry Gnome said...

Must be nice to have a resident chef! But sorry it's so hot.

Olga Hebert said...

They are predicting unusually hot weather in Florida for the next week. I don't mind the cold weather so much as I mind the dark, but I really do love the heat of the Florida sun. I have been here in the summer and don't think I would have trouble adjusting when I make the decision to move here full time.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Florida can be so humid we used to live there a long time ago at Tampa back in 1973...summers there are horrible. I suspect that a week away may be a tad long for you. I know I sure appreciated my pillow after sleeping in the hospital for the better part of a week.
I hope you are feeling better, I have had this crud since Jan 18 and I am still not over it completely...the nagging cough and tiredness hangs on.

Travel safely...enjoy that chef cooking while you can! :)

Mage said...

I stopped in Florida for two days before getting on a ship. I can't imagine why folks like that humidity. I love coming home to mid 70's and little humidity. When we travel, we have one green bag for our pillows. It makes the trip easier to sleep at night with your own pillow.

Galen Pearl said...

Since moving to Portland (just a bit south of you!), I have become such a homebody. After spending the first half of my adult life moving every few years, and being fortunate enough to live and travel all over the world, I find now that there is no place I'd rather be than home. Even with all the rain!!

C-ingspots said...

I'm glad you're enjoying your vacation time with your sister. You're so right, we have a definite tendency to take for granted that which is familiar to us. Maybe that's perfectly normal. It certainly gives us a gentle reminder that we've got it better than we realize most days. Since you've been gone, we haven't had any rain. Can you believe it? Temps have been spring-like and for the most part our days have been sunny, occasional morning fog, but nice. Last night we were in the 20's and had a heavy frost/freeze with bright, blue skies today. Don't worry though, rain is in the forecast! Not a lot, but interspersed with nice days. Winter is almost over - 5 weeks I think - but here in our NW, spring feels like it's almost here. Yes, indulge and live fully in the moment. Before you know it, you'll be back home. Maybe you're home already, it's Tuesday. Be well my friend, and don't compare yourself to anyone, but you. You're doing very well in my humble opinion. :)

Sally Wessely said...

Today, you are most likely traveling home. I hope your trip has been a safe one and that you will feel better when you get home. Like you, I always miss my routine when I travel. It’s not that I don’t love to travel because I do, but I love my home and the comfort it brings, and I guess routine is more important to me than I realize.

I could not take that heat! I have ask myself if I could even step outside if I were in Florida like you were. As you know, I wear a wig. I don’t even want to think about how hot I would be! I have to remember that when I dream of digging my toes in the sand at the ocean.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Most interesting that you have found yourself missing your crowd and routine though you love the FL annual trip.