When you say you don’t prefer the Bahamas to Boston, you’re the asshole. Especially in January. But Bernie and I recently returned early from the Caribbean—choosing to weather Historic Juno (and now Laudable Linus) from the coziness of home rather than getting stuck in “paradise” for a few extra days. We never take proper vacations, my happily housebound husband and me. Rather, we go to Conferences where he attends Lectures and Meetings while I sleep late, order lots of room service, nap poolside, drink too much, and repeat. Grandma travels to Boston to watch the boys, and we’re deliciously childless for three to seven days at least four times a year.
Of all of them, this January conference is my favorite get-away. Though most people think plastic surgeons are obsessed with enhanced cleavage and perfect noses and a Magically Erased visage, that stuff is just meh for the ones I know. Bernie and his colleagues are reconstructive plastic surgeons who can re-attach severed parts, transplant new faces, re-create breasts from jiggly bits, fashion fully functional phalluses, and perform other feats of microsurgical wonderment because they are able to sew teeny tiny vessels together using only their steady hands and a microscope. The January conference coaxes all of these superstars to one warm locale where I entertain myself picking their brains… and pickling mine with supersize mojitos.
Skating around the outskirts of the plastic surgery world as The Wife, and then–quite drastically—plunging cancer first into the deep end as The Patient, I have a deep appreciation for these gifted surgeons. And usually, I am thrilled to reconnect with them at finer resorts everywhere. But this year, some waterslide-loving planner decided this meeting needed a family-friendly venue, so all of us headed for the Vegas-of-the-Caribbean, Atlantis. And Bernie and I just couldn’t stop… giggling.
There was loud, piped-in music everywhere. Insidious jingles invaded every public space and at any moment we’re belting out “I Swear” (All-4-One!) or “I’m Not a Girl” (Britney!) because it’s impossible to ever forget lyrics to these ridiculous, top 40 gems from yesteryear, and enthusiastic sing-alongs to terrible music, well, them’s the rules.
There were goofy photo opportunities around every bend. And there were many bends: we logged thousands of steps between our room and the actual conference, passing through a shopping mall and entire casino to get there. Those better parents who used the conference as an opportunity for family togetherness found that the lazy river had a mean streak, that children could actually get stuck inside the waterslide, that all kid activities shut down at cocktail hour, and that incessantly piped music will drive three-and-unders into a glassy eyed coma or Benadryl-resistant fury, depending on your luck.
There was a rather impressive aquarium lolling beneath the noise. And any weather that doesn’t include a “feels like” caveat is a bit nice this time of year. But my dear friend April, my beacon of preparedness, my travel-tip guru, my have-flight-tracker-phone-app gal texted early in our trip that if we didn’t get back ahead of Juno, we would get stuck listening to “I Swear” until Groundhog Day. So, we packed up our gauzy clothes, spent umpteen WiFi hours acquiring seats on the last plane to Boston, and pulled into our driveway during the first blush of the blizzard, happily housebound again with our boys, Grandma, drinks without novelty containers, and… silence.
We’re enjoying a third snow day this morning. Linus has turned the backyard into a violently shaken snow globe. Nearing noon, we’re still in jammies. The house is warm and safe and incredibly quiet. Plans for the day include baking, movies, and couch snuggling, or maybe nothing at all. Preferring a snowstorm to paradise probably makes me a jerk, might even be unbelievable… but I do. I Swear.