We spent our spring break in Chicago, and by that I mean Josie’s spring break; as adults, we seem to have missed the memo, the one that says technically, we no longer deserve a spring break. If you just can’t shake the feeling, I recommend acquiring a school-age child. That’s at least twelve good years of entitlement, right there.
Maybe as penance, we tend to spring-break in a seasonably unpleasant place. March has not proved a reliable month for weather: we’ve plodded near-frozen through rainy Berlin; shared a chilly, empty hike at Rocky Mountain National Park with only the yawning mountain lions; and this year, like many before it, we visited family in Chicago, where on any given day before June, you may view gray-capped hills of parking lot snow.
But not this year. I last saw Illinois in our December rearview mirror, after losing Dad in a cloud of all-gray days, and hadn’t been back since. We did not talk about this – how it would be different – but dragging luggage through my parents’ doorway, a triple-ricochet told me they knew, and that each would decide the difference alone. I watched Josie, dropping her backpack, hugging my mother, and was at once grateful for what adolescents don’t know how to say.
As it turns out we had a fine time, and were gifted with beautiful weather to help it along. No ritual went undone, starting with deep sausage-and-mushroom, ending with a river of city coffee and eating ridiculous amounts in between. There is no useful word to tell you how much my father enjoyed ridiculous amounts, and how his goofy heart spilled enjoyment just watching us enjoy.
The good news is that the only bad news lives in a chunk of residual sadness; the better news is that you can go home again, and get lucky skies, and find that you don’t have to commemorate the pizza, just eat the pizza. You’re entitled to it.