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I need a vacation from the memories of my ill-fated vacation


I was supposed to be a little, if not a lot, hungover and sunburned right now. I should have lost at least one flip-flop, forgotten my sunglasses and maxed out at least one credit card on my vacation. But I never opened my suitcase or left the ground.

I was all packed up with nowhere to go.

This run of bad luck actually started a few months ago. I wish I was clever enough to make it up, but I’m not. This story takes a few months to make sense.

We had a bunch of community cats – the cat “ranchers” in our neighborhood said we couldn’t call them ferals – in our backyard. So with the help of Martha King, we trapped five cats and took them to the Humane Society to be neutered. Later that day, we returned them. Even later, we came to learn there actually were six community cats. We’ll come back to that. It’s an important part of the story.

Two weeks later, I decided to get away for a few days to Sint Maarten to recharge. And for the first time, I wasn’t going to take my laptop. I was planning nothing but sunshine, a running bar tab and a trip to the French side of the island, where clothing is optional on the beaches (which is not an option for me). I like that side because it has soft, white, fluffy sand.

I was dreaming about my trip at the car wash one afternoon when I felt a huge thump. Although I was in the middle of the suds cycle, someone mistakenly took their car out of neutral and rear-ended me. How many of you have been in a collision just before the rinse cycle in a car wash?

Five days before my trip, we had our air conditioning ducts cleaned. They used a suction device to clear out the dust, but it sucked so hard it collapsed our flexible ducts. Suddenly, we had no air conditioning when it reached 100 degrees for three consecutive days. Guess how long it took to get someone out to fix it? Three days. And while they were fixing it, one of them put his foot through the ceiling in the garage.

I was determined to get to my favorite island, especially since I hadn’t been there in 15 years. My flight to Miami was to leave at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. From there, I was supposed to land at SXM by 1:20 p.m. A half-hour later, I would be at the pool bar, where my favorite potions were served by “Sweet Laura,” who’s worked there for nearly 20 years.

The night before my flight, the sixth cat was in our house. She was pregnant. Five hours before I was supposed to leave, it appeared her first kitten was breech because the first thing out was a tail. Off to the vet. He said to give it three hours, and if she doesn’t deliver the kittens naturally, he’ll do a C-section – for $2,000. Two hours later, the first kitten was born. In the next three hours, four more oozed out. By then, my alarm to leave for the airport was to ring in 86 minutes.

Then I got a text saying my flight had been delayed by an hour. Then another text. And another. And another. Did you see the storm that hit South Florida last week? Miami got 22 inches of rain, and it closed the airport for more than a day. I tried to use my cellphone to check the airline’s website to see if there were seats to Sint Maarten on Thursday. I learned that if you want to use Wi-Fi with that airline, you must pay for it, even if you’re trying to reach the same airline.

After sitting for hours, we pulled back to a gate and unloaded. I waited another hour for my bag and took an Uber home.

I did get some good news. I was uncharacteristically polite when I talked with the airline and the resort, and they let me move the reservation to July without a charge.

When I got home, I wore an old Sint Maarten Piranha Joe T-shirt to pretend I was there. I checked out the kittens and held one in my hand. It chirped at me, and it was the first time in days that I smiled.

Then it peed on my T-shirt.