Twenty years ago today I was on a plane headed to Florida—it would be my last true "spring break" trip. I was a senior in college. It was back when boot-cut jeans, chunky shoes and dark lipstick were the fashion. Seinfeld and Friends episodes were still new and the Backstreet Boys were still boys.
My best friend-roommate Lisa and I were young, innocent coeds, armed only with our magical, early-20s, pre-baby, unicorn-fantasy perky boobs and $50 bucks between us. We had our bikinis and our Steve Madden black slip ons, ready to enjoy sun and responsibility-free nights at tiki bars.
That boy was going to be down in Florida with his friends too, that cute boy I bumped elbows with a couple weeks prior at a party on campus. He had beautiful eyes, strong cheekbones and a quiet demeanor. He smiled a lot, I noticed, but he hardly talked. This kind of person was perplexing to a girl like me — who was never without a story or a loudmouth laugh. He intrigued me. I had to find him. I HAD to know him.
It was on that Florida trip that I found him. He was among our mutual friends. He was someone I probably unknowingly brushed up against several times in the course of four years at the same college system but never formally met. He was the one. I knew it when I saw him laugh with his buddies playing sand volleyball. I knew it when I saw him swim laps at the shady spring break hotel pool as everyone else stared at his ease in the water. I knew it when he was calm and quiet at the end of a long night out drinking. I knew it when he sat and talked to me while every other boy in the bar was busy watching a wet T-shirt contest off the balcony. I knew it the first time he kissed me, 20 years ago in that bar on that Florida trip. I knew it when he still wanted my phone number even after I mistakenly called his pink travelers checks “France money.” We were babies back then. I didn’t know shit about the world and zilch about living in it. I only knew he was the one.
Lisa and I are leaving on a plane today for Florida. We will take our 40-something, not-so-perky-anymore boobs and our tired, motherly bodies to a beach where we will try and forget responsibilities and real life for a weekend. We will joke about this midlife spring break, where we will probably turn in after two glasses of wine— worlds away from all the young, innocent coeds that surround us staying out til all hours at a tiki bar —living a life with so much promise, vitality ... and heartbreak still ahead.
I will remember a boy I met 20 years ago on a trip to Florida. I’ll remember how lucky I was to have found the one back then, even if I only got to know him for a short time.