By Lori DuVall-Jackson
For the first time in years my family headed to Florida. For various reasons it has never held the same appeal for me as it does for just about everyone else, but my nephew was getting married. My husband and older son were happy to get out of Buffalo in February, and the younger son didn’t mind leaving torrential rain in Los Angeles to join us.
We arrived in sunny Sarasota and I saw my family for the first time in over three years. After spending our lives living less than 5 miles from each other, my brother’s family moved to Florida. I needled him about being a cliché, but the truth was I missed them terribly, and it was wonderful to have everyone together.
It was also wonderful to be around like-minded people. I could write volumes about my parents and our rather unique upbringing, but suffice to say you needed a thick skin and a quick wit to sit at our dinner table. Although the conversation could flash like a knife, one was always free to discuss whatever was on his or her mind. In these politically correct times, it’s a refreshing trait – to us, anyway.
Sarasota Bay is beautiful — lots of marinas and yachts and serious money floating around. The ceremony took place in a lovely waterfront setting and the vows were said in the shade of a huge tree. As I took my seat I noticed a hammock up in a bough, with the unmistakable form of someone inside. I didn’t think anyone else noticed, until my brother remarked, “Ritzy Sarasota, where the people live in trees.”
Golf carts are a favored form of transportation, and they were used to ferry the guests from the waterfront to the nearby reception. The cart carrying my group needed charging, which resulted in my suit-clad husband hopping off and pushing when we almost stalled on an incline. Passers-by were passing us. I wished I had taken a picture.
After the wedding we left my brother’s group and headed to Orlando. Now that my boys were in their 30s, we were going to Disney! It was my younger son’s birthday, which we spent eating and drinking around the world at Epcot, where various countries have their own pavilions and shops. We had planned on an actual meal in Germany, but the lunch buffet price downgraded us to a pretzel purchase.
When we left France I remarked to my son, “You’d probably love living there, you don’t have to be nice to the customers, you can smoke just about anywhere, and people are used to their little dogs crapping in the cafes.”
I could have spent all day in the Japanese store. While the others drank violet saki rice wine, I looked at a vast array of goods, from green Kit Kats to toe massagers. I managed to escape with only a small bag of roasted matcha tea.
Canada was, well, Canada. The beers were familiar, and except for the absence of a Timmy Ho’s, felt close to home. The United Kingdom provided fish and chips and a band that played British rock ‘n’ roll, reminding me of any local cover band. I shelled out $30 for a T-shirt, causing my son to remark, “Why don’t you just buy that on Amazon?”
Disney is very good at separating your cash from your wallet.
We left Florida and returned to a snowstorm during rush hour. I missed Buffalo, but not that. Maybe some day down the road, it’ll be our turn to move to God’s waiting room and buy a golf cart.
Lori DuVall-Jackson prefers her life in Amherst to the charms of Florida.