04. The Columbia

April 2021

Capturing the excitement from a girls' family trip to Florida

The Columbia

All day, our group of eight women excitedly discussed what we’d get to eat at dinner. “You should go with the paella!” we urged Kathy, who shied away from it during her last trip because it advised a 20-30 minute preparation time. “Did you check out the menu?” we asked Aunt Tammy, the lone vegetarian on the trip. “Get your grouper,” Grandma Joy advised me, knowing it’s the only fish I eat, and only blackened, only when I’m in Florida. “I know I’m getting that sangria!” we all squealed at one point or another. Not an hour in the sun would go by before someone would dreamily sigh and talk about dinner in some fashion.


We held an in-room dance party before we caught the shuttle, some of us with ‘roadies’ and all of us glowing from our day on the beach. We popped in and out of some stores on The Circle, cute signs and bright shirts calling our names and the names of those we left in Western PA, before we made our way to the restaurant on the corner, bright and two-story, lit up in whites and blues, beckoning us with the authentic experience promised, when Aly walked out and told us they were full and couldn’t fit us.


Dejected, we began our walk away, all of us chirping: why didn’t we think to make reservations? What will we do now? Not the restaurant from the other night; it wasn’t that great and would also have a wait. Do we just get some munchies? Head back and order pizza? I wonder if we can find that Mexican place. . .


“YOO-HOO!” we heard (literally, a ‘yoo-hoo!’). We turn and there’s Vivian, waving her hands excitedly, Marilyn already turned and following someone behind her. “What?!” I hollered, stopped in the middle of the street, outdoor diners on one side and passerby scooting along on the other. She waved insistently and I started yelling names: Kathy! Aly! Grandma! “LET’S GO!” 


Like ducklings following their mom to water, we once again made our way to the blue-and-white lights, to find out a group of eight had just called to cancel. We made our way to what was now our table, effusive in our thanks and praise of the stunning hostess who had chased us down, back to excitedly discussing our orders and gratitude to the universe for putting us where we were meant to be.