My earliest spring break memories are of Disney World. I don’t quite recall how many years my family spent one week a year down in Florida, enjoying the mayhem that is Orlando but for a long time, I identified the entirety of spring break with Cinderella’s castle, Epcot Center, Mickey Mouse, and that giant Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom. It wasn’t a bad way to spend my first couple spring breaks.
When I reached middle school, we used spring break to visit my great-grandmother, either in Florida or Ohio. Florida was still fun and we spent our days on the Fort Meyer’s beach or touring the local animal preserves. It was beautiful and warm, though not necessarily restful as my parents loved to keep us moving. Ohio had less to do and we were often confined to my grandmother’s house, reading and watching movies. Needless to say, I preferred Florida.
By high school, we stopped going anywhere. Spring break was a time to catch up on homework, attend multiple sports practices, and finish everything else I said I’d do in January but never got to.
I’d always pictured that spring break in college would involve lots of friends, parties, and general mayhem. Either that or I’d just head home to visit my immediate for family. I think that for lots of people it probably does.
Last year, I’d always intended to go home for spring break. That’s what I’d done for fall break and it was a lovely way to catch up with the people I’d lived with for 19 years and now rarely saw. But my dad suggested something different. He sent me down to Florida to spend the week with my 96-year-old grandmother and my great-aunt.
I wasn’t too sure how that would go. It would just be the three of us, and I’d never spent a lot of one-on-one time with either of them. Besides, I’d done the great-grandma visits before but always with my mom, dad, and two sisters by my side. I didn’t know what to do if I didn’t have them to keep me occupied.
I knew, going into it, that they wouldn’t want to spend too much time at the beach. The traffic was horrible and that wasn’t really their preferred way to spend a day. Without the beach and my sisters, I wasn’t quite sure how the break was going to go.
I shouldn’t have worried. I flew down there and I spent my days by their pool, catching up on both class and leisure reading. We went down to the beach one day to get our fill and we watched most of the Academy Award films I’d missed earlier that year. I slept. I ate. I read. It was rather idyllic.
When I returned from Florida, I returned refreshed. No longer was I as stressed about all the things that had me going crazy prior to break. I hadn’t seen anyone my own age for nearly a week, and it was fine. I’d survived. Actually, I’d thrived.
This year, as I considered what I wanted to do for spring break, Florida was at the top of my list. But Fort Myers, with my great-grandmother. Not Miami. Not Orlando. Fort Meyers. With my great-grandmother.
As midterms wind down, I’m so incredibly grateful to have this choice to make and to have made this choice. In January, I didn’t know how crazy this semester would be but I know that I need my spring break to be restful.
While on some level, I’d love to have the kind of crazy, exciting spring breaks that are always portrayed on films, I know that, for me at least, the real point of spring break is to give me a chance to catch my breath before the second half of the semester. I’m not sure I’ve ever needed one quite so much. So armed with a book, a swimsuit and lots of sunscreen, I head down to Florida ready to sleep and spend time with my 97-year-old great-grandma. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (photos provided by author)