Vacation. The concept was foreign to me. My parents never talked of vacations, let alone ever taken any. Breaks from school were spent working. What the heck did a girl do, when she didn’t have to work to work?
I couldn’t talk with my mom. My brothers were hopeless. I was making every effort to avoid my best friend, difficult, since I was renting a room in the house she shared with her boyfriend. Out of options, I talked with the guy. He invited me to travel with him, his brother and other family and friends-home.
Home for them was Itta Bena, MS. Our car was part of the caravan of Cadillacs and customized vans, packed to the bumpers with coolers full of soda, beer, fried chicken, potato salad and all kinds of sandwiches on white bread.
This first trip to his hometown to meet his parents and sister was memorable. I remember it being hot, damn hot. Hot doesn’t bother me much, I’m pretty comfortable with heat and I would have been fine, except that’s all anybody ever talked about, that and the mosquitoes. When it got dark, it was damn dark. This did take some getting used to. I remember rabbit and deer meat being nasty, no matter how it was prepared. Finally, I remember that in deference to my first visit, the pigs were not allowed inside the house. Considering the size of the house, for this, I was extremely grateful.
Itta Bena, MS in and of itself was not all bad, but certainly not a vacation idea that bore repeating. So of course I became engaged to and married the man from Itta Bena, MS, conscripting me to annual pilgrimages to his parents’ place. Our eventual family of four stayed in Bud and Tip’s 2-bedroom, 1 bath ranch style house, with little to no water pressure, for 5 to 7 days. Most summers sharing the modest home, perched on the lip of a swampy lake, surrounded on three sides by trees and cotton fields, with up to 10 other family members. Some of the people I met were really pretty sweet. But the conditions were less than ideal and over 13 years he would not vary, by one iota, the arrangements. Each trip was more stressful than the one before.
The summer of 1994, I'd had enough and refused to go south. We took the kids to Wisconsin Dells instead. When we arrived, I found he’d invited his brother’s family and other Mississippi buddies to meet us there and hang. My niece and I entertained and chaperoned the kids, while the guys stayed in the parking lots or picnic grounds drinking and talking. This was our last vacation together. We separated 3 ½ years later.
Little did I know that this would be my last vacation, until now.
As you may have heard, I’m taking my baby girl, who will be 21 years old in just about 23 hours, to Vegas. We will get on a plane, (my very first time-ever), heading southwest at approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover the range of emotions twitching her newly arched eyebrows and spiraling through my newly buffed and painted fingers and toes.
Until now, vacations meant caravans of Cadillacs and customized vans, a yard full of turkeys and chickens, pigs with house privileges, trickling tepid bath water, cotton picking stories, endless talk about heat and mosquitoes. Not to mention, snuff dipping men, women and children.
That was then, without which, there wouldn't be a now, a new friend reminds.
See you guys in 6