Ten years ago, I was headed off for spring break, a trip to Daytona Beach with friends I’d made freshman year and kind of lost touch with through the saga that I still refer to as the psycho.
While tame by most of today’s spring break standards, I delighted in what was the first truly Sodom-and-Gomorrah-ish experience of my life.
From the moment we pulled our car onto the strip, we saw half-naked women – hanging out sunroofs, dangling from balconies, lounging poolside. It was like Girls Gone Wild without cameras. I bought a six pack of Natural Light, popped open my first beer while we waited to check in and drank in the sunshine and debauchery.
We lounged on the beach (I had the body of a 21-year-old back then … sigh) for hours and hit the bars at night. One night, while dancing with a particularly sweaty guy at a club called Metro or something trying-to-be-hipster like that, he slipped his hotel room key in my back pocket, and told me to meet him there at 3 a.m. I don’t know whether that was his real hotel room key or not, or if it was, how the hell he got back in his room, because I didn’t show up.
Looking back on it, I remembered that I never even told my parents I was going. After years of living with their strict rules and 10 p.m. curfews, I knew that they would have tried to keep me from going. But I was 21, it was my money and my life. And really, while I may have had too much to drink and stayed out in the sun too long and kissed a few strange men, I didn’t do anything illegal or anything that got me injured/killed/emotionally scarred. I had my friends to back me up, and a solid (if strict) upbringing that taught me when to say no.
I hope that in 19 years when R is headed off for spring break (hopefully to build Habitat houses or tutor English), she feels she can trust Dave and I enough to be honest about where she is going and what she is doing. And I hope that we are teaching her how to do the right thing – to respect herself, to stay safe and to make sure somebody always has her back.