February is known as the shortest month of the year, so why does it feel like the longest, most emotionally taxing month of the year to those of us who experience winter? February is what everyone does not look forward to in Chicago. We all walk around with our hands stuffed deep in our coats, chasing whatever sun is present, because we hope that it will provide warmth in the midst of fierce, biting winds. We long for the feeling that we had during summer. Do we remember what summer was? Do we remember how it felt? How did the patio seating fit on these snow/iced sidewalks? Will summer ever come again? Is this the onset of S.A.D? Now that I think about it, my doctor did mention my Vitamin D deficiency. How much is too much Vitamin D?
And, that’s why it’s healthy for any of us to get away.
I have decided that, as long as I reside in Chicago, I will mandate a February escape. It will be an escape to a climate that promises warmth and outdoor seating and frozen margaritas, because they were made that way. This year, it was Sarasota, Florida that was the chosen destination.
B had some medical conferences for work to attend, so I figured why not mooch along? At the Ritz Carlton, mind you. I packed all the elegant things I had – which consisted of the real pearl necklace B got me and all my Forever 21 jewelry – and practiced the elegant accent (It’s the Ritz!) I would embrace over those five days.
Upon arrival, I nearly had a breakdown from merely having the 65 degree weather touch my skin. B, being the clear-minded, calm one out of the two of us, walked ahead of me to ensure his safety. We picked up the rental car, put the windows down and went straight to Waffle House. Upon giddily finding seats, we spotted an older gentleman dressed in a light Dolphins Jacket, reading Danielle Steels Friends Forever.
We were definitely in Florida, and you better believe we strolled into Cracker Barrel the following morning. They were in the same parking lot, after all.
Since we were still about an hour and half away from Sarasota, I still had time to (crazily) scream out of the window, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH PALM TREES!!” and act as DJ on the road to refreshed.
As we reached the elegant driveway of the elegant Ritz Carlton, I could not help but feel at ease. I’m pretty sure if I would have stepped out and asked them to give me a piggy back ride to my room, they would have done it. But since we were representing our generation there, we could not afford to make a fool of ourselves. Or myself.
Hans gave us a grand tour of what our next five days would include. Hans nearly made me cry again. Afterward, we headed down to grab oysters and take advantage of the very real outdoor seating.
We eventually found a Mexican restaurant to dine at in St. Armand’s Circle that night.
The next day, B had his conferences and I rested as much as my body would allow. I got up, read scripture and sat on the balcony in utter gratitude. Thanking Him for the sound of palm trees, the tingling sensation of heat, and the shade.
I would then head out to run on the causeway between the Hotel and St. Armand’s Circle. I could not help but feel such a peace as I passed over the moving waters and others on their morning strolls.
From the mornings onward, B would meet me outside in the sun. And we would bask and bask and bask…
When the basking was over, we took a walk along the beach and tried not to plan anything for the rest of our days there. That’s the best part of vacation: no planning! But, if you know B, you know that he is a planner and will plan, no matter how hard you try. Like, my personality (a One on the Enneagram) is “best” when it is adventurous and spontaneous (a Seven). B, a Six, can hardly contain himself, but I love him for that.
So, we walked and planned and collected shells. Eventually B asked, “So, how many shells are you collecting…?” Ha.
Our first full day was a success.
Monday, B gave me a birthday gift: a spa day! It was so wonderful and so relaxing. We then had a birthday dinner planned at Jack Rusty at the Ritz. I wish I could go into full detail about their specialty bread, but I might cry and do something irrational, like move to Sarasota. After dinner, you better believe we watched House of Cards on the balcony. Like a boss.
And on Tuesday, because we planned, we went to Siesta Key and fried ourselves silly. But not before stopping at the cutest little breakfast joint: The Breakfast House.
Heading to Siesta Key was truly the most perfect way to end the vacation. The sand was white, the water was cold, and the sun was crisp. We ended up leaving when happy hour started, because half off seafood is quite literally a shared dream. At the end of our meal, we totaled 11 kinds of seafood we devoured over the weekend. We knew it was a successful vacation after that. Also, the burns proved it. Heh.
In the end, getting away during February is beneficial. I do feel emotionally, physically and mentally renewed. Spiritually, too. I needed some time away from the dreariness of Chicago. However, I will say this … what I have been feeling, perhaps from the Holy Spirit, is that every season is important. The nagging, cold season that is winter in Chicago may be bitter and long, but it is for a reason.
While there is nothing wrong with getting away for the sake of renewal, there is trouble in the mindset that life should always be warm and fuzzy and breezy. I am thankful for the cold winters and for the hot summers. I am thankful for the cool spring and the slowness of autumn. Mostly, I am thankful to breathe, live, and experience every single part of it.