Fifty-somethings return to the scene of the crime

Thirty-one years ago on a Thursday afternoon in late March, I finished my English senior seminar essay (with about 30 seconds to spare before the 4 p.m. deadline), walked back to my sorority house and was greeted with four words:

“Get in the car.”

Seven of us were driving to Florida for spring break. My suitcase was already in the trunk, and I barely had time for a bathroom stop before we left. Some 18 hours of driving later, we reached our destination, Bonita Springs.

There we shared a condo with two double beds, a pull-out couch and a single bathroom. The price was right — only $100 apiece for the week — but you did have to sleep on the floor one night.

Our condo was across the street from the beach, though. Plus the sun was always shining, and we took a day cruise to the Bahamas, so we had few complaints.

Four of the original seven of us (along with two other sorority sisters who didn’t go on spring break) were reunited in Florida last week, where one of us now lives.

I couldn’t help thinking of the many contrasts between this trip and the one we took three decades ago. In what ways did they differ? So glad you asked. Here’s my Top 10 list:

10. Transportation

With a quick 2 1/2-hour flight to Tampa, our trip was significantly shorter and more enjoyable than when we crammed seven people in two cars for almost two days. Twice.

9. Sleeping arrangements

We were in a condo again, but this one was in an exclusive property on the beach with four bedrooms and two baths, thanks to the generosity of a husband’s friend. No nights on the floor — and enough beds that we each had one to ourselves.

8. Bedtimes

Speaking of beds, we spent a lot more time in them this trip. Then: never in bed before midnight. Now: never in bed after.

7. Sun worshiping

Worries of skin damage and wrinkles prompted us to spend significantly less time on the beach this year — and use significantly more sunscreen.

6. Cell phones

We didn’t have smartphones when we were in college. We couldn’t share photos or text each other from the store to see if we needed to pick up more LaCroix. We also didn’t experience weird moments of silence when no one was talking because everyone was scrolling through their Facebook feed.

5. LaCroix

We did not buy any LaCroix in 1988. Even if it had existed then, we wouldn’t have been interested. We bought two beverages: Old Milwaukee Light (for the calorie-conscious) and Old Milwaukee (for those who couldn’t stomach the light version). We were on a budget. This time around we could afford a nice bottle of wine or vodka.

4. Other consumables

Cold-pressed green juice, vegan cream cheese, quinoa chips and other items we would have avoided like the plague on our 1988 trip were everywhere.

3. Eating out

Instead of the one mediocre restaurant meal we had on our college trip, we ate out every night, enjoying some truly delicious food.

2. Topics of conversation

I don’t remember which topics we discussed in 1988, but I know it was not health issues and kids’ behavior and aging parents and how close or far away (me) we are from (gasp) retiring.

1. Appreciation

We knew we were lucky to be on spring break together in college. We felt even luckier to be back, together, after 30 years of friendship.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. This column was first published May 9, 2019.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean