Starting Point
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Issue Date:  January 14, 2005

Starting Point


The extra day in Florida was a mistake. After a busy week at our nephew’s wedding, we were worn out and on our way home to San Diego. But when my husband and I arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport, we discovered that our tickets were for the next day.

We had plenty of reasons to hurry home. My husband, laid off several months earlier, was anxious to get back to his job search. I had business meetings scheduled for the next day. Also, in the time we’d been away, we hadn’t been able to chat online, as we frequently did, with our soldier son in Baghdad.

Neither of us was sure how the mix-up happened. But there we were. Out of luck and on a budget. We’d already said goodbye to relatives in West Palm Beach, 50 miles away. Already turned in the keys to our rental car.

“Oh, well,” we sighed.

After checking into a hotel nearby, we took a leisurely walk to the intercoastal waterway. Standing on the bridge, we watched tall sailboats glide beneath us and laughed at a wild parrot squawking from a hibiscus branch. With a warm wind riffling his salt-and-pepper hair, my husband noted how that same breeze made the high cumulous clouds above us morph and billow.

Back at the hotel, while he watched the evening news, I jotted down in a small notebook things I wanted to remember from the week of the wedding -- the smiles, the tears, the music, the people.

Later the two of us lingered over dinner at a local chicken place we’d stumbled on earlier with Cuban-style side dishes we’d never tasted before -- yucca in garlic, plantains with powdered sugar. When we returned, the chill from the room’s air-conditioning made getting under the covers even more enticing.

Looking back, it was “The Day That Never Should Have Been.” A goof. A gaffe. A blunder. But it brought with it the simple gift of unexpected time together to relax and to regroup, an interlude in which to rediscover the word “ahhhhh.”

It’s been said we learn from our mistakes. But if I’ve learned anything from this one, it’s that I wouldn’t mind, not at all, making it again.

Sue Diaz is a San Diego columnist and copywriter.

National Catholic Reporter, January 14, 2005

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