I miss spring break. I miss hearing the whistle blow on Friday afternoon and piling into a rental van with five close friends and heading to Panama City Beach for a week of fun and sun.
I miss driving the night shift from St. Louis to Memphis and impulsively yet stealthily pulling into Graceland at sunrise to wake up those five close friends and pay our respects to The King.
I miss trying to save money by renting a room in a roach motel and deciding two days later to use Sara’s dad’s credit card for a hotel upgrade on the beach to share with my five close friends, just the three of us girls and three guy pals crammed into a poolside room for four.
And I miss how friendly fellow spring breakers can be. Unlike the crowd of strung-out parents we normally see on spring break now, the revelers at Panama City Beach were happy to be around other people, eager to make new friends.
During our first afternoon at our new hotel, exhausted from holding down my chair on the sand, I headed back to our room for a nap.
Grabbing a key and my towel, I strolled across the beach into the blinding Florida sun, past the pool and into our room, the door already wide open and our beds already neatly made.
A couple of boys were hanging out in the back of the room, I assumed friends with one of the guys we had with us, looking surprised that I was walking in.
Still partially sun blind, I smiled at them and told them not to leave on my account, that I was just going to lie down and nap.
I crawled into bed, pulled the covers up and laid my head down on the pillow, slowly closing my eyes as they adjusted to the indoor light.
At the last possible moment, just before my eyelids shut completely, I spied a suitcase near the window that was not familiar to me.
I opened my eyes again and stared motionless at the suitcase. It definitely did not belong to our group.
Nor did the duffle bag on the side table or the University of Kentucky ball cap on top of it.
Heart now rapidly beating in my throat, I shot up in bed and looked over at the fellas in the back of what was actually their room and not mine, all of them grinning ear-to-ear with smiles that screamed, “Panama City is the best place EVER!”
Faster than a frat boy could say, “S’up?” I grabbed my towel and scrambled for the door, apologizing profusely before they could assume anything (else) about me.
And now, 20 years later, I can’t help but wonder if the gentlemen from Kentucky ever schlep around with their kids today, remembering the Panama City welcoming committee of one and, in the midst of keeping peace in the family minivan, miss spring breaks of days gone by too.