Going on vacation means different things to different people. For me, it’s not a vacation unless a fog-free beach and non-frigid water are involved. Perhaps because of my upbringing, I tend to favor the beaches of South Carolina and Florida.

We haven’t been on a vacation in ages. Sure, we’ve traveled some for work and to visit family. But a trip to the beach just to get away from it all for a few days hasn’t been in the cards.

I blame my partner’s desire to finish his college degree program. Before graduating a few weeks ago, he took at least one class every session–including summers–to graduate as rapidly as possible. Throw in my hectic work schedule and there really hasn’t been a good time to get away.

Yes, our little dogs play a role, too. Perhaps if we treated them like soulless animals, we could board them or dump them off on a dog-loving friend. But we don’t. Tico and Toodles are our children. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a family vacation without them.

Now my partner might offer some silly explanation revolving around his perception of the relationship I have with Toodles. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion. It’s not my fault that Toodles is miserable without me. Seriously. She just pouts and stares at the door until I come home. What kind of person would leave her behind?

So the four of us piled into my partner’s Toyota bound for Panama City Beach. His father bought a beach house there last year that is part of a family compound. No razor-covered fences, weapons caches, or storage units full of non-perishable food. Just a swimming pool between two, two-story duplexes across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.

My partner’s father lives in the upstairs apartment and uses the downstairs for guests–mostly my partner and his sister. Their 91-year-old grandmother owns the other duplex. Her youngest son (my partner’s uncle) lives upstairs when he’s not hauling. Despite her still healing broken shoulder, she just ran out to Walmart to pick up a few things and is looking forward to her upcoming visit to the Biloxi casinos.

Other than Grandma, who we rarely see, we’ve got the place to ourselves. Dad’s fishing in South Carolina with a bunch of his buds. The uncle drove off this morning for a five-week haul in the semi that had been parked along the privacy fence between the pool and the street since our arrival. Believe it or not, I miss that big honking truck. Now the folks across the street have an unrestricted view of the pool.

Our one-bedroom apartment is really nice, even if it is a bit overfull. Squeezing the contents of the really big house he sold into the much smaller duplex is going to take some time–even for a do’er like my partner’s dad. The large pool area, a deck overlooking the ocean, and quick access to the beach keep me outside anyway.

I could really get used to this. The weather has been perfect–sunny with clear skies and highs in the 80s. The ocean breeze makes sitting in the shade pleasant and enjoyable. I know because that’s about all I’ve done for the last few days.

No Zumba. No running. No weight lifting. No diet. I’m on vacation. I’ll pick all that stuff up again next week when I return to…

My Glass House