Mama Is Always Right

Fitzpatrick Family Vacation 2014 

Ricky & CretiaI must admit, I did not want to go on a vacation this year. I mean, I wanted a vacation, but I absolutely did not want to go anywhere. For one, I don’t enjoy going somewhere and having to watch every dollar, which is where we are currently. And secondly, I just didn’t want the hassle of packing, driving, planning, itinerary-ing…I just wanted to stay at home for a week and chill. Period. 

So being the man of the house, the paderfamilias, as it were, I made it clear to the family that we would stay home this year. End of story. And with that in mind… 

About 4 hours into the drive to Hilton Head Island, SC (yes, mama’s idea to get away, always trumps any grand plans of my own)…my back is hurting, I’m on a half-hour rant about everything from other drivers to Obamacare, I’ve lost my cool at the kids (and apologized). In short, it’s been a long drive. 

My worst fears are apparently coming to pass, and I’m secretly biding my time until I can drop the bomb on Cretia and say “See, I told you this was a bad idea.”

I’m anticipating that at the end of this fiasco, I’ll be grouchy, tired and broke and looking forward to the following Monday when I can get back to work and return to some semblance of sanity. 

We arrive in Hilton Head, which by the way, is beautiful. As the scenery unfolds in front of us, I’m sort of easing up. Maybe I was wrong. 

We turn into the hotel, the booking of which, I took charge and handled. Like a man. It looks…old. Not like nostalgic-old, but 70’s old. 1970’s old. It is quaint, I notice. But it’s a little untidy, from the outside. I can feel my emotions sinking again. 

We check in, without issue. Good. Up to the third floor we go and get off the elevator onto a landing of some sort. Then we sort of accidentally discover and go through a non-latching door with flaking paint, into a musty hallway. Getting worse. I peer down the hall which disappears into a tiny point approximately a mile away, and ascertain that our room is about three quarters of a mile due West. So we hike. 

In the room we go, and my first thought is “We must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.” The room is roughly the size of a janitorial closet. Still, we press on, after verifying the room number on the door. I find that it actually isn’t that bad. We can pass one another between the bed and TV if we suck our stomachs in and hold our breath. It’s small. Did I mention? Surprisingly small, considering the nightly rate that I so expertly negotiated. 

It is also not a suite. A fact that dear old dad overlooked when booking. It does however, have a microwave and mini fridge. The fridge is not yet running though, and the door “bottle holder” thingy is missing. The carpet is clean, the beds are tidy, all the lights work, and the A/C works perfectly. So I’m encouraged. 

First thing after a 5 ½ hour drive…go to the bathroom. So I head in to check out the facilities and reach down to the toilet, which by the way, must have been designed for either children or midgets. Still…a minor inconvenience. Lifting the lid (of course I do), I see a tiny guy swimming in the blue water. Mr. Periplaneta Americana, aka the American cockroach, is doing the backstroke and waving up at me. 

What’s a guy to do. “It happens”, I tell myself, give him a flush, and proceed. Still, this is just one more piece of a quickly crumbling castle. Not looking good. 

Nevertheless, I keep the roach discovery under wraps for now. We unpack, settle in and turn on the nice looking flatscreen to catch a familiar show or two. For some reason, the volume appears to be in sync with Atlantic wave action. Meaning, it just goes up and down, seemingly at random. Not very conducive to relaxation when the Wild Kratts force us to turn them up to hear, then suddenly shake us silly as some random phrase spikes in volume. Then back down again. 

Lord. Anyway, we get our stuff all in and decide to grab a fast bite and a few items at a nearby Kroger. It’s getting late. 

About 30 minutes and 15-20 miles later, I succumb to the fact that I have no idea how to navigate this crazy place, nor do I know where any fast food establishments are. Apparently, Hilton Head does not allow the display of the colorful fast food signage that we’ve all come to take so much for granted. So with night having fallen and every sign in a pale shade of beige, I’m driving up and down 278 squinting and incurring the wrath of every other driver on the road. 

Needless to say, my nervous twitch is in high gear now, and I’m having PTSD symptoms and longing for the solace of home. Cretia isn’t saying much, but I’m feeling like the proverbial failed husband who can’t seem to get it together, and his family suffers the effects of his incompetence. The kids are also coming out of their skin by now, and of course, not having eaten in like 3 hours, they’re absolutely starving. They’re on death’s door as we finally give in to a Burger King, a “restaurant” that we typically avoid like the plague. 

We pile out, head in, and are greeted with the type of service we’ve come to expect in a fast food chain. We order simple, common items, and get them rather quickly. We then discover that the speed of order fulfillment, very probably is conversely proportionate to the quality of said order. It was terrible. Even for BK expectations, it was awful. 

Then to Kroger, a store that we’ve actually come to love because of the selection and service at our local branch. We discover however, that the rudest people in America have obviously descended upon Hilton Head. Maybe there’s a We Hate Manners convention in town. We endure the heathens, and of course have to wrangle the tired, bored and now, hungry-again kids, and eventually complete our grocery mission, and head back to our spacious room. 

At the end of day one, I’m a nervous wreck. My head hurts, my chest hurts, my thumb is twitching (nervous habit), and I am so over this place that I can’t stand it. The kids get changed, tucked in and finally give in to sleep around midnight. 

And as Cretia and I snuggle closely…not so much due to romance, but because we’re sharing a freakishly narrow Full-Sized bed…it starts to sink in. I’m in one of the most beautiful vacation spots in the country, a stone’s throw from some of the most desirable beaches in the world, safe and comfortable with my beautiful wife and two of my loving kids, and they’re loving it. And I’m loving it. 

God has blessed me with wonderful opportunities and given me the chance to escape and enjoy and spend time with my family. The weather is perfect. The ocean is near. Our bed is soft. And Cretia is a great snuggle partner. 

And suddenly I realize that this was a pretty good idea after all. And mama…is always right.

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