Family vacation mixed with natural disasters.
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Every year up until I graduated from high school, my family would plan a summer vacation with plenty of sand, sun and mass confusion. Our family vacations included at least 12 men, women and children shoved into an airplane, then smashed into a van, and eventually a rental home somewhere in Kissimmee, Los Angeles, or Myrtle Beach. In this particular year it was a mid-August flight to Orlando all because my youngest cousin wanted to visit a mouse.
Why my family chose to vacation in Florida during the season of Hurricane Charlie, and the most humid month of the year, I had no idea. The sun beat on us for four days with many seeking refuge in the pool; our wet foot prints immediately evaporating before we could reach the screen door of our rented home. When we visited the Magic Kingdom on the fifth day it poured in 15 minute intervals. There is a photo of me somewhere wearing a bright yellow Mickey poncho, my Tigger ears drenched, and a smile on my face. I had no knowledge of the hurricane approaching, and with several rides closed, including the home of the infamous mouse, we sought cover in the “It’s a Small World” ride. As what seemed to be hundreds of people crowding in line and piling into boats, the aged motors of the ride could not take it, and we managed to break down somewhere in Deutschland. I remained unfazed just watching the dirty water underneath the boat and listening to the thunder that growled from Charlie.
When we made it back to the home, family activities continued as the adults cooked dinner, and the children ran around outside weaving in and out of shadows the clouds attempted to form around us. The air remained thick and when we went inside to eat with our parents the cool central air removed the humidity that blanketed our faces, making it easier to breathe and laugh with loved ones. As the evening approached the hurricane became stronger and some time around midnight I was awakened by the banter of my aunts terrified that the electricity had cut out. Florida in August means 100 degree weather both day and night. Within an hour we were slowly dying from heat exhaustion when my family decided it would be best if we all gathered together in the living room and wait for the storm to pass. How we would all be safe if the roof blew off by being in one room I also had no idea. I guess it just meant we would all die together. Seeing as it was a family vacation I guess it was fitting to stick with a theme. With no air conditioning we soon passed out and awakened to stiff necks and backs. All of our flights were cancelled due to the devastation that Charlie left behind and that morning we all sat in the airport for stand-by flights. I remember filling an empty seat between this bickering couple on my way back home miserable that my vacation had ended which meant summer was almost over.
A week later I left for college and soon after my mother, and her sisters, all divorced their husbands. While summer vacations became a thing of the past, and now I see everyone in pieces with new spouses and half siblings, I appreciate the last memory of my family, all of us together, untorn by a storm.