At the Family Compound

Vacations mean different things to different people. My favorite getaway is the beach. Relaxing by the water, getting too much sun, and eating seafood every day make for a nice change from normal routines. Nothing else comes close for me.

My partner grew up vacationing in Panama City Beach. His grandmother lives there. Eventually, they added a second story apartment to her home, bought the place next door, and put a swimming pool between them with privacy fence on either end. I call it the family compound. Portions are owned by different people and have changed hands several times without ever leaving the family, the most recent being last year when my partner’s dad made the second building his permanent home. He lives upstairs and uses the downstairs apartment as a guest bedroom.

I came down for the first time in May and couldn’t wait to go back. The weather was perfect–sunny every day but with the breeze, pleasant enough to stay out in the shade all day. Which I did–beneath a big umbrella beside the pool with my MacBook Air in front of me and my dogs at my feet. Yeah. We can bring the dogs which spares all four of us a tremendous amount of anxiety.

Well, maybe not Tico. He’s not a fan of the beach. I suspect his black fur has a lot to do with it–and that he’s perhaps an ounce or two overweight. Toodles loves to travel. She sleeps in the car, does her duty without wasting any time when we stop, and insists on being wherever I am. She’d ride around in the pool on a float with me if I’d let her, but it would make for a really odd tan line.

We piled into the car the last week of July for a week at the compound. Less than 24 hours after we arrived, the phone call came letting me know Dad had passed away. We headed back to Athens first thing the next morning. Part of me was glad. Oppressive heat and humidity had replaced the pleasant weather I remembered from May. Sitting around the pool was miserable. Walking to the beach, impossible.

Labor Day weekend we tried again. Except for Grandma, we’d have the compound to ourselves. Rain, complements of Isaac, accompanied us all the way to PCB and showed no signs of leaving. Oh well, at least we weren’t at home.

I couldn’t get the television to work–something was wrong with the dish. We have cable so I didn’t have the first clue what to do. That’s okay. God must want me to write.

Tired from the drive, I went to bed. No matter how I shifted or positioned myself, I couldn’t get comfortable. It was hot, too. At midnight the thermostat said 78. Something was wrong. We pushed buttons randomly and in different patterns, hoping something would happen. It just kept getting hotter. Tico and Toodles were panting beside me.

Most my thoughts that night revolved around the idea that I was somehow cursed. A vacation was not in the cards. No. For some reason, I was meant to suffer and sweat and be miserable. Not that I’m whiney or anything.

The next morning we figured out that opening the windows would help. It did. My partner figured out how to re-set the dish (he’s still young enough to understand how these things work), and except for local channels, television became an option. By noon, the A/C repairmen had come and gone. The apartment was cooling off, but it still poured the rain.

We went out to eat. I won’t name the place because I’m not going to say nice things about it and I’m really afraid of the ladies who work there. A rougher collection of women you’d be hard-pressed to find outside of bars I’ve always been afraid to enter. I’m pretty sure they moonlight as a roller derby team when the place is closed. I had the house special scallops, no two of which had the same consistency but was afraid to say anything.

The following morning we woke up to clear skies, pleasant temperatures, and a delightful ocean breeze. Aside from a five mile run, a walk on the beach, and trips around the block with the dogs, I’ve been parked beside the pool. And that’s where I’ll stay until it’s time to return to the daily grind back at…

My Glass House

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