Friday night we went to the Christmas Boat Parade along the Intracoastal. It came right by the pool at our apartment. We almost missed it, we thought it was Saturday night. The drawbridge horn tipped us off, a regular half hour occurrence at this time of year. But the bridge horn was followed by the various vibratos of boat horns, deep or high pitched, and the shouting of people. “The boat parade’s tonight,” Rich said. We ran for the pool.
In our haste to get outside, I forgot my phone, so I didn’t get photos of some of the best decorated boats. Ones with palm trees, dancing hula girls, and flamingos. The roving reporter in me, the one who writes here and reports to you on life in South Florida and a year of walking on sunshine finally couldn’t stand it anymore. I ran back up to the apartment, in record time I might add. My husband marveled, “That was fast.”
“Yeah, I didn’t wait for the elevator. I ran up the four flights of stairs,” I replied. The elevator is notoriously slow. I am fleet of foot with all this walking I’ve been doing. Nonetheless, I got back as the last boat passed by.
We heard about the impending snowstorm approaching the Northeast and the subzero temperatures with the wind chill factor. It was going to be big enough to earn a name. Electra. As we headed towards the table laden with cheese and crackers and fruit platters, all our neighbors with cocktails and boat drinks in hand, Rich turned to me and asked, “Can you believe everyone at home is freezing their asses off?”
Richworked on Saturday. He needed to get some hours in. He’s been laid up with a back injury this week, and taking muscle relaxers and pain meds which are not conducive to climbing ladders. The sun may set the scene here in South Florida but there is no escaping the petty annoyances of everyday life. It had been a long week. I was dealing with Affordable Healthcare and the pathetic government website. My husband was dealing with car insurance and registering the truck. Even with the savings from Obamacare, there is never enough money to pay the bills. But there is something about that sunshine that makes it all a little easier to deal with.
I thought about this one night while driving home from work. It was already dark out, traffic was heavy. It always is at this time of year, no matter where you live. People are out Christmas shopping, there are holiday events to attend. But the palm trees with their Christmas lights swayed in the warm breeze and my car didn’t need to be cleared of snow and ice when I left the office. I haven’t worn a bulky coat or socks in eleven months now.
When I reached Delray, I took a right onto Linton towards Route A1A to avoid the construction downtown. I rode along the beach, the windows down, the warm breeze blowing through the car. I cranked the radio really loud and sang along with Bob Marley.
While my husband worked, I spent Saturday re-editing The Reverse Commute. I’ve learned a lot about writing in the past year. I am improving my craft. One of the bonuses of self-publishing is you can correct your book at any time. I want the newly edited version to be available soon, before I publish Take Me Home in early January. Yes, that is the title folks. Next task, the cover. This time around I started with the copy editor. If anyone out there is planning to write a book and self publish, I can not stress this enough, hire a copy editor. Live and learn. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every artist was first an amateur.”
Then I went for a walk. t was eighty-two degrees at five o’clock.
We planned to meet at the beach later in the day but Rich was in the middle of fixing a lock on a gate, and he wanted to be done with it. His back was feeling better. I walked and thought about winter. I don’t really miss it. At all. Yes, it’s nice at Christmas. I did enjoy looking at snow from the windows of my house. I enjoyed sitting by the wood stove under a pile of blankets reading a book. I like to snowshoe or walk through the woods as snow drifts down through the pine trees. I love that muffled quiet that blankets the world when snow is falling. But it’s really hard to walk on icy sidewalks when the temperature is five degrees. Your cheeks sting, your lungs hurt, you slip and slide and think about broken hips and sprained ankles. And winter is so damn long in New England.
I smile at the Facebook posts of my friends. They’re tired of it already. It’s only December. They have a long way to go. It can snow through early April in New England. One Easter I served a ham dinner on my deck. The next day we got a spring storm, a nor’easter, which dumped twelve inches on that deck.
My friends and family live in New England. My daughters live in Colorado. When I get nostalgic, I can visit snow. At least that’s the way I feel about it for now. It is Sunday morning. We are hosting a Patriots football game. It’s the big game down here, they’re playing Miami, here in sunny South Florida. No freezing fans sitting on snow covered seats throwing snowballs in Foxboro. I have been on Facebook. I am not seeing a lot of activity from the North. I’m wondering if a lot of folks have lost power. Will they be able to watch the game? Are they outside shoveling and snow blowing the driveway?
Life is hard at times. There’s never enough money to pay the bills when you’re stuck in the shrinking middle class, there’s back injuries and illnesses to deal with, random tragedies and unfulfilling jobs. But there’s also random acts of kindness, old and new friends, the power of technology to stay in touch with family. My niece won the national cheerleading competition in Orlando last night. We heard immediately. My brother-in-law sent a text, a picture was posted on Facebook.
When it’s cold and grey and dreary outside, it’s easy to let the bad times weigh you down. It might be the lack of Vitamin D. I know I definitely suffer from whatever that deficiency is called. But when the sun shines just about every day, it’s hard to sit inside feeling sorry for yourself. I feel guilty staying in bed reading a book or watching the Food Network or a Say Yes to the Dress marathon. I have to get outside, take a walk on the beach or down the street, past the outdoor cafes. I can read a book sipping cappuccino, people watching as tourists stroll by in shorts and flip-flops. For now, the sun sets the scene.