Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Keys

Key West. Sloppy Joe's. Hemingway. Vacations have a surreal intensity that burn the skin and create searing memories of vivid first-time experiences. The children splashing and laughing in the pool are no longer my own. My twenty-somethings hurried down before Mom and Dad, and now sit across the way, seeing and being seen.

Family meals have always been times of sharing. Important, but less frequent as the nest empties and adulthood takes hold. Seven days of meals interrupt our individuating routines and offer us time to regroup, catch up, laugh, love and eventually begin to get on each others' nerves.

Pictures are taken, mental postcards collected and sent for future reference. Remember when?

This time is short and long-awaited. Precious in its high demand and low supply. Will we travel together again?

On her way back to our room, my wife walks away, growing smaller in stature and further in time from the lounging she enjoyed at my side. She crosses the pool deck, climbs stairs and disappears into the hotel lobby. It is a short and silent sequence, moments in time that will never be repeated. An urgent, helpless scene from a favorite film in which our fleeting youth is documented and forever put away. It will play in the theater of my mind long after my tan has faded.

Sad news arrives. A friend back home has died of skin cancer. We reach for the sunscreen, jump into the cool blue water and breathe deep the living Florida air.

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