Friday, February 29, 2008

Can You Love the People You Meet on Vacation?

Someone once told me that you can love every person you meet. Your goal should be to figure out what you love about them. So I took the challenge with the 6 people I met when I traveled to Mexico last week. On the very first night I told the others about my blog and my plans to write a book some day. Though I liked the idea of teasing them that I would share exaggerated embarrassing stories, I will save those for my book. I promised to change their names for privacy, though...

Though "love" is a strong word, it wasn't hard to find qualities in each one of them that I admire. I don't know if our paths will ever cross again...we live in different parts of the country..but for 5 days these were people that touched my life. Here are the things I found that I "loved" about my little Cancun family.

Sherrie:
*The thoughtful way she got me a birthday card and all of us surprise gifts before we left

*Her energy. I still can't believe how chipper she was the morning after "the night of illness"

*Her friendliness. She treats every person she meets like her new best friend

*Her free spirit. From her laugh to her excitement over making bracelets, she has the playfulness of a child that we all need from time to time.

*Her New York-don't-mess-with-me attitude.

Rob:
*Those dreamy eyes.

*The way he understood the meaning and importance of the "birth minute" right away. I'll be thinking of him every day at 5:22. (or was it 5:24??)

*The time we bonded as partners when playing ping-pong...especially when in "the zone"...oh and he is awesome at cup-flipping, too!

*The way he humors me, playing along with my "dating advice" when, obviously he knows more than I ever will about the subject

*The way he can give me a hard time, tell me he's kidding, give me hard time, tell me he's kidding in a comforting cyclical pattern.

Allen:
*His salsa skills, especially when lounging pool-side, "flirting" with...not sure who....

*The way he can ride the waves, beating out those college kids any day

*His smile, hiding behind the "angry-looking" camera face.

*The trace of the Iranian accent leftover from his childhood that adds to his mystique

*The fact that he plays games as much as I do despite our initial conversation where he claimed to the contrary. (Of course, we were talking about "dating games" then...)

Janelle:
*Her beauty...though I will never be able to capture the extent of it on the camera, no matter how much I try.

*Her spirituality. She clearly has a strong faith which is something I greatly admire and respect.

*Her playfulness. Whether it be jumping through the waves or a game of ping-pong(both winning or losing!), she plays for fun

*Her subtle mischievous inner-child: That little smirk she gets on her face after the fib about the "foot massage"

*Her health. She's a walking nutrition-label! She probably knows all the vitamins and anti-oxidant level of every food there is. And if her body had a nutrition label, it would rival the most sought-after super-multi-vitamin in existence.


Christy:
* Her openness - though I did not get to talk to her much, she seemed to be the type of person who was genuine...what you see is what you get.

* Her hair - Very shiny and blond

* Her sense of adventure - Unlike me, she had no problems deciding what to do or where to go. She seems to be someone that knows what she wants and goes out and gets it

* Her risk-taker attitude - Though I'm guessing on this one, I get the sense she is a risk-taker and lives each day to the fullest

* Her easy-going nature and positive attitude - This goes along with her openness and friendliness.


Donna:
* Her beautiful eyes

* Her voice. Though I didn't get to hear it, she likes to sing...something I've always wanted to do myself.

* Our shared birthday and our common goal to celebrate.

* Her assertiveness...she says what's on her mind and does not give in to peer pressure.

* Her sense of style..whether it be in a cowboy hat and denim dress or sexy bathing suit, she had a fashion sense that tells me she'll look good where-ever she goes.

These will be the characters for the February '08 chapter of my "book", which I think I will title: "Eat, Pray, Love, but Never Sleep". Some ideas for sub chapters are:

* The Salsa Dance Double Date that Ended at the Drugstore
* Are They Gay?
* The Head Games of The Mayan and Don't You Know Dead Children Don't Cry?
* The Yellow Yucatan dress that Saved the Mexican Economy
* Allen's Near Death Experience or In Search of Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation
* The Art of Cup-Flipping
* Turning 48 and Passing for 70 (This one is already written in my "Finding Love at 48" blog entry)
* How Many Travel Agents Does it Take to Book an Excursion?


Coming in 2009 to a bookstore near you!

Traveling "Alone" and Loving It




Every February it's the same...I am tired of the cold, Colorado winter, and need an escape. But, I'm single, and who wants to go to a romantic spot on their own? That's just depressing...or so I thought when 3 years in a row, I decided against going to Mexico because I had yet to find a boyfriend to go with. This year, 2008, I decided things were going to be different. I was going to stop "waiting" to do romantic, beautiful things. Even when I was married, my husband and I often had different opinions about vacations, and it was time to start living how I wanted to live, with or without a boyfriend! In fact, I have more freedom than ever right now and it was time to start taking advantage of that.

When I saw a Cancun Trip advertised on Meetup for Singles, I thought this is my chance. Now...first, let me tell you, I'm not crazy about the "single's scene". I've been to my share of single's events, and usually I come away disappointed, swearing that I will never again stoop to such means of meeting people. Though I hate to classify them as "desperate", let's just say there are rarely men that I am interested in at such events. In fact, I think I can safely say I have never had a romantic interest in someone I met from a single's event.



But, I was not interested in this "Single's Trip" because I thought I'd meet a romantic partner...after all, people were coming from all over the United States and the last thing I need is a long-distance relationship. I was interested because I'd have people to sit with at meals....people to look out at the ocean with and say, "Isn't that beautiful?"...People to laugh with, play with, and drink a margarita with. And at the same time, I'd be traveling alone and have the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. If I wanted to have a solitary hour on the beach to watch the waves, I could do that. I could do whatever I wanted on this vacation! This feeling of independence (while having the "security" of knowing there would be people to befriend if I was so inclined) was perfect.

It turned out to be the premier trip for BestSingleTravel.com, the brainchild of Sheryl Weinberger. Sheryl, our friendly, out-going travel coordinator and owner of SingleTravel.com, was quite the hostess for this trip. There were only 7 of us...5 women and 2 men...for me, that was just fine. By the end of our 5-day stay we had become friends....In fact, there was even a cabana-bed group photo (not yet approved for world-wide-viewing)!

Throughout the stay, Sheryl worked hard at making sure we all were taken well-care-of. She coordinated meeting times and encouraged outings. Though we were free to spend as little or as much time together as a group as we wanted, most of us choose to dine together regularly and to see many of the sites around Cancun together. We soon were sharing secrets (OK...maybe they were just made up stories, but they were pretty good!) and playfully teasing each other.

I was especially impressed with Sheryl's thoughtfulness on the last day of our trip when we all found a surprise gift on our door handles. The night before, she had also clued in our wait-staff that two of us were celebrating birthdays and we had cards signed by the group as well as a cheesecake with candle. And Bingo-pro that she is (do they play it in Vegas?), she won 2 bottles of tequila, giving both of them away (one to me, and one to the other birthday girl)!

This trip gave me that liberating feeling of knowing that even when traveling "alone", I don't need to be "lonely". I had a fabulous vacation and came away with new friends. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Finding Love at 48

Today is my 48th birthday. I've been thinking a lot about finding love at an older age. I was divorced at 43, and being single has had its ups and downs. "Dating" at any age is not really my cup-of-tea, but the older I get, the less I want to do it. I much prefer an established relationship to the early getting-to-know-you days. I'd love a 48-year-old balding guy with a paunch if he loved me, was the father of my kids and I'd shared the last 25 years with him. I'd take him over a hunky young studmuffin any day. The problem is the bald father of my kids doesn't love me, and, in fact, is married to someone else. Honestly, now that I am 5 years past that painful time, I'm glad. Being single is not great, but it's better than being married to someone who doesn't love me. And there are many habits that my ex-husband had that I am more than happy to no longer have to deal with.

It's hard to feel attracted to "older" people, though. Bald men with a paunch with whom I've shared no history, don't do it for me. That's why we fall in love when we're young, get married, and by the time we don't look good anymore, we have developed that "mature" love that's based on so much more than how attractive we are.
We usually accept each other's mutual decline on the attractiveness scale and do not have that dreaded fear of exposing middle-age imperfections.

Luckily, I have aged relatively well. I get my fair share of attention from the "older" generation. The other day I had some guy that looked like he could be 70 try and pick me up. Though I know I should be flattered by any attention, I admit to feeling somewhat panicked that my "dating pool" is moving dangerously close to those headed for the geriatrics ward.

The good news is I still get approached by young guys, too. While in Cancun last week, some young guy invited me up to his room. (I almost called him a "young hottie", but...the truth is, he wasn't that hot.) I told him I don't go to the rooms of men I don't know so he invited me for a drink to "get to know me". I accepted the drink, but told him I thought the difference in our ages was too great. I kiddingly told him I was turning 70. Now here's the really bad thing about joking like that.... He said, "Really?????" as though it might actually be true! No, NOT REALLY! DUH! To think someone might have actually believed I could be 70 (even if they were surprised!) was not pleasant. Our little "getting to know you" drink, blessedly, did not last long.

Though I sound very cynical, and, honestly, I know my ambivalence about dating is one of my biggest obstacles from finding romance at this older age, I cannot say I do not have love in my life. I have met many friends (both men and women), thanks to my single status, who I do now love. I have friends help me when I'm too weak, short, or ditzy to do "hard" things myself. I have friends I can call when I'm feeling sad or just need someone to tell me that I am sexy, even if I am pushing 50. I have friends who will laugh with me, cry with me, or tell me to "get over it" when it's time to "get over it". I may not have found my "soulmate" yet, but I have found more love since my divorce than I could ever hope for. And for that I am very grateful.

This, once again, may not be a year I "fall in love", but it is a year that I will continue to find more people to love....that's what life is all about and I plan to do it until the day I die.