My husband says that leaving Colorado is like Frodo Baggins leaving the Shire. Our outdoorsy, wholesome, lovely life here. A house filled with introverted teenage boys who hang with their parents on weekends – skiing, watching Big Bang Theory together, talking football or politics around the firepit.
Our 16-year-old is the most reluctant to leave. For a month on hearing the news, he barely spoke. So, we decided that I should bring him to Fort Lauderdale on a house-hunting trip. Drive by the school options. Try to get a little buy-in.
Our plane landed on Friday night. Two clerks working the Avis Rental Car desk looked out sleepily at a long line of renters.
An overweight woman in tight white jeans, high-heeled shiny red shoes and boobs that overflowed from her matching red t-shirt. “I’m a Preferred Member!” She spike-heel-wobbled back and forth between the clerks and the line. “I’m Preferred! I shouldn’t have to wait!”
But it’s COVID. And the line didn’t like the fact that she was distracting the sloths at the counter.
She twice announced to her captive audience that she was going to convince “one of the lovely people in the garage” to help her. Twice she returned. “But I’m Preferred.”
A pretty woman quiet ahead of us while her boyfriend in dreadlocks wheeled their suitcases in and out of the garage, returning frequently followed by the smell of marijuana.
“And we thought the Preferred Member lady was entertaining,” my son grumbled.
Two friends destined for a Miami party. Loud. One disappearing again and again, each time returning drunker. Sloppier. Louder.
“Epic,” said the teetotaling teenager at my side.
“A disaster,” I thought.
“Interesting t-shirt,” inquired another line resident of the guy behind us, who loudly explained that it commemorates his friend, a cop, who was shot and killed last week. Had a young daughter.
“Is he going to start a riot at Avis?” my son whispered just days after protests erupted across the country.
The lady finally releasing us from the garage in our car, pointing to the two drunk girls speeding ahead of us, “What just happened there?”
We didn’t say, “You just let a drunk driver take one of your cars.”
Finally, at 10:30, arrival at the hotel. Blaring music. Partygoers everywhere. No one but us wearing COVID masks.
“Two years ‘til college….”
A total backfire. I went to sleep defeated.
But the rest of the weekend was lovely. We walked the beach and a nearby state park. We ate quesadillas on the ocean-view patios of great restaurants. We saw houses we liked. He talked. He joked. His old self.
Then the last house. An over-the-top kind of home. Beautiful. Half-mile from a private beach. But…
“The seller has it rented, and the renters still aren’t out,” the agent said as she opened the front door, revealing the bachelorette party from the previous night.
“Epic,” said you-know-who, this time with a wry smile.
Bikinis hanging on doorknobs. Clothes strewn across the floors. A colorful card game left on the pool table. Each card a different colored penis. I don’t even know how to explain the sex toys left on the kitchen counter.
“Nice house, mom” said you-know-who.
Two years ‘til college might just fly by.