My grandparents rented an apartment in Miami Beach every winter, as did many of my peers’ grandparents. Whenever possible, my mother, sister, and I would visit during Christmas break from school.
When I was twelve years old, I had gone alone, much to the paranoia and neuroses of my mother and grandmother.
During the flight, I was under the direct care of a stewardess, to who my parents handed me off at the airport in Montreal.
While on the flight, Delta held a lottery for a bottle of wine, which I had never seen happen before. It must have been a holiday promotion, but whatever the reason, my seat number was the one randomly chosen, and I won the bottle of wine.
The douchebag sitting beside me, seeing I was traveling alone, tried to claim the bottle for himself, but I stood up for myself and pointed out it was indeed my seat number that was drawn. Because the guy was such an ass, the stewardess said they would give my grandparents the bottle when they handed me over at the Miami airport as I was the winner and was being met by adults of legal age.
That was the only good part of my trip!
My grandparents didn’t drive, so to do groceries, every night, we walked twelve blocks to the grocery store, “Publix,” and then home, each carrying a bag of groceries.
My grandparents wouldn’t let me visit my friends who were also in Miami visiting their grandparents, even though they stayed nearby. I wasn’t allowed out of my grandmother’s sight.
We went walking on the boardwalk every morning, and I would be beyond bored as my grandparents stopped to talk to their friends, who were also out walking.
Unlike me, my friends were allowed to stay home and sleep in when their grandparents went walking. My grandmother was too scared to leave me home alone, so I had to wake up at dawn and go walking with them.
We went to the beach every afternoon, but I wasn’t allowed to go into the ocean; my grandmother was convinced I would be stung by a jellyfish.
When you’re twelve, and at the beach, you want to go into the ocean! But I wasn’t even allowed to go near the shoreline.
The two weeks dragged on endlessly. We did the same things every single day and ate at the same restaurant, “Little Rascals,” every time we went out for dinner. At 4:30 pm.
I couldn’t wait to go home! My grandparents drove me absolutely crazy; I’m pretty sure if my grandmother could have put a leash on me, she would have!
When the time came for me to fly home, I told my parents and grandparents I refused to fly under the care of a stewardess; I was old enough to travel alone.
Unfortunately, approaching Montreal, we flew directly into an unexpected blizzard of biblical proportions. The pilot announced we were being re-routed to another airport, all the roads were closed, and there was a chance we would have to stay at the other airport’s hotel.
That’s when I burst into tears. I didn’t know where my parents were, I didn’t have more than $20 on me, and I didn’t know what I would do if we couldn’t make it to the airport where I prayed my parents were waiting.
I had never stayed in a hotel alone, and I was scared. I sat in my seat, crying quietly when the mom of the family sitting next to me patted me on the shoulder and told me if we had to stay at the airport’s hotel, I would stay with them, and they would contact my parents to let them know I was safe. The mom reassured me it would be ok, my parents would find me, and I didn’t have to worry because she and her husband would take care of me.
We sat on the runway for four hours, which felt like four days. The pilot finally announced they were de-icing the plane, and we would be taking off shortly for the initially scheduled airport to disembark.
I didn’t know if my parents would be at the airport since the pilot had said all the roads were closed. I spent the twenty-minute flight from one airport to the other crying, worried my parents wouldn’t be at the airport to pick me up because they were stuck in snow somewhere on the highway.
When we finally landed 1,200 seconds later, the mom of the family next to me offered to help me get my luggage and find my parents.
However, the stewardess intervened and said, “I know you wanted to travel alone. Do you still want to get your luggage and find your parents yourself, or would you like me to come with you?”
Again, I started crying and asked her to go with me. She thanked the family who had offered to take me under their care and helped me disembark the plane and collect my luggage.
After going with me through customs, we walked down the long hall to where people were waiting for their loved ones to arrive.
Through the swinging doors, my mother saw me and broke away from the crowd, bolted past security, and hugged me so hard I thought my ribs would break. She was crying, which made me start crying again, and she thanked the stewardess and the parents of the family that had helped look after me.
Security escorted us out, but one of the security guards winked and smiled at me.
When I saw my father, he asked, “So, do you want to go back next Christmas?”
Everyone in the arrivals area could hear my tearful “NO!”
The End Result:
I didn’t return to Florida until I was eighteen, with six girlfriends to go to Disneyworld and then Hallandale. But that’s a whole other story…
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