This Feb. 7, 2015 photo shows a feeding area for...

This Feb. 7, 2015 photo shows a feeding area for koi, which are large colorful carp, at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla. Credit: AP

I hadn’t been to Florida in years. It was time to see my mom in Delray Beach. With this in mind, I arranged for a few days off from work this past February. I asked a couple of friends for various favors like transportation to and from Islip airport and pet-sitting for my three birds. And then I flew the coop.

Everything was fine at first. Mom was excited to have me there, and I was thrilled to partake of the warm Florida sunshine. I had been feeling “off” and thought for sure I had a vitamin D deficiency. The sun would definitely replenish my vitamin D reserves and get me up to snuff.

Mom loves seeing her children eat, so the first couple of days were spent devouring home-cooked meals, hanging around her condo complex, going to the local Publix supermarket and watching “Wheel of Fortune” at night. She had planned to take me to a couple of nice restaurants, including a vegan bistro and an Ethiopian place, knowing that would be right up my culinary alley.

Mom also told me about a butterfly sanctuary and a flea market that sounded interesting. I couldn’t wait to explore with her!

Well, none of those things took place. Mom got sick on Day Two and was relegated to lying on the couch, coughing and sneezing and feeling guilty that she wasn’t up to doing anything except being one with the sofa.

I woke up on Day Three, sad that I’d have to spend it alone, but happy to be in a pleasant climate. In a way I was glad that my mother got sick at this particular time, since she now had someone around to take care of her, if things got bad. I got out of bed, went into the bathroom and was horrified when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I’m typically not ecstatic during this daily ritual, but this was worse than usual. I had crusty, caked blood around my nose and smeared along my cheek. I frantically grabbed a tissue to stop the nosebleed. Then I noticed that I didn’t have a nosebleed. I must have scratched myself in my sleep.

Hmm, I’d never done THAT before. Luckily no blood had gotten on the pillowcase.

My mom assured me that it was OK to leave her alone in the condo, so I took an Uber downtown. Once there, I went in and out of souvenir shops and walked until I found the Atlantic Ocean. As I stared out at the blue expanse, I heard my phone buzz. It was a notification from eBay, of all things. I didn’t have any items up for auction, though. To my astonishment, I was being contacted by a woman who had purchased an item from me five or six years prior. She decided she wasn’t happy with it and told me she wanted a refund. Well, that wasn’t going to happen, but it threw me for a loop. What kind of crazy mojo had I attracted on this trip? What kooky and unpleasant thing was next?

Well, the next day, again all alone, I ventured into the complex’s indoor pool. I never swim, so here was the perfect opportunity. A lap pool, virtually deserted, too. I literally couldn’t wait to dive in. I always liked to swim underwater with my eyes open, although chlorine tends to bother me. Eh, what the heck? I was on vacation! So underwater I went. After some languid laps, I was ready to hit the downtown area again.

I took a bus which dropped me off right in front of a running store. What good luck! Finally, something fortuitous was happening! I’m a runner and love browsing through all the colorful gear. Unfortunately, my eyes had begun to sting. I mean really sting. Tears began to fill my lower lids. My vision became blurred as I attempted to make small talk with the shop’s proprietor. I explained that I was having a reaction to chlorine and that I was OK. My thoughts were racing inside my head, though. I was in pain, frightened at how severe a reaction I was having.

Somehow I think I managed to come off as normal, purchasing a shirt and a pair of running shoes, like normal people do.

By the next day, I had had enough. I told my mom that I was going to the airport early; I wanted to get out of her hair and find some good mojo, even if that mojo was in frigid Long Island. I took an Uber to PBI and, being six hours early, decided that once again, I had made a poor decision. How was I going to kill all those hours while dragging around a heavy suitcase stuffed with running paraphernalia, gifts for my helpful friends and snacks? I sat in a corner on the carpeted floor, miserable. I think my mom, lying on the couch sick as a dog, was having more fun than me.

My next trip, Delray Redux, is planned for early 2018. I’m terrified.

Robin Ames,


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