Relay: Old Friends, And New

   I just returned from my annual “girlfriends” vacation to Vero Beach, Fla., which began, true to tradition, with an open suitcase on the concrete at the curbside check-in at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
    This year, I had the added bonus of having two airport employees help me remove several pounds of clothing to avoid a $50 overcharge. After then filling five bins with carry-on baggage at security, removing layers and shoes, a computer and a bag of liquids, and then putting it all back together, I began to recuperate from the stress and embarrassment of having the public see my untidy packing, along with my bras and underwear.
    I boarded the plane, feeling fortunate to see a window seat toward the front, unaware that it was time for the next annual event — a child kicking my chair for two hours. I did my best to ignore the repeated jams to my lower back, thinking of those worse off than I. I knew that I would be basking in the sun in a matter of hours, and jabs to the kidney are nothing compared to what I wrote about last week — people starving to death in Haiti.
    I successfully released the stress of both scenarios for a few moments with the appearance of palm trees through the warm and sun-filled plane window. I snapped some shots with the traditional new technology, purchased in anticipation of stimulating views and a few undistracted moments to learn how to capture them.
    This year it was the iPhone 4S, which I was hesitant to buy, but did so saying a prayer for those who live eight-to-a-room and are paid $.31 an hour. “The Justifier,” as my friend Matt refers to me, decided that the purchase was acceptable because I promised myself to help solve the Chinese worker exploitation issue at a later date. I needed an iPhone, I told myself. I am a reporter, a technology addict, a Mac user, and I am relied upon by many to share photographs and happenings. Also, my Yogi tea bag said “the purpose of life is to enjoy every moment,” and I figured the phone certainly would help me to do that.
    I learned a bit about my new friend inside the phone, Siri, whom I have heard many good things about, and looked forward to exploring the ways she might assist me. I imagined she would decrease the time I looked down while driving, since I could just tell her what I needed, another way I justified the purchase. Siri was unable to assist with the increased frequency of kicks from behind while aboard the plane. What did help, however, was the innocent voice proclaiming upon our landing, “Mommy, I can’t believe we’re going to see Nana and Pop-pop in a few minutes.”
    Upon arrival at my friend’s oceanfront condominium, it was time for the annual realization that my toiletry bag did not join me. Asked why I didn’t bring an extra bag to avoid having to omit items from my suitcase, I explained that I already had two checked items and two carry-on bags, and then noticed that was no longer the case.
    Where I leave the toiletry bag fluctuates each year. This year it was the airport in Orlando. Replacing these items may be a simple fix for some, but not for me. It’s taken me years of trials and piles of money to find the natural body care products that work for my hair, skin, and health. Small stuff, again, compared to those eating mud cakes in Haiti, so I sucked it up and spent the traditional $80, replacing the products at a natural food market that sells many personal care brands I trust, but not the recycled, non-animal tested razors, or any razors for that matter. Returning from the store and borrowing a razor, it was time to wonder if I would be able to take the newly-purchased items home, due to the weight they would add to my suitcase.
    Small setbacks, a few dollars, and a little embarrassment are nothing that a friend-filled annual day on a kayak in “old Florida” trailing a guiding dolphin cannot overshadow. This year also included texted photographs from home of snow and ice, sent to my new iPhone, and the benefit of my new friend Siri, who provided guidance on such important matters as the exact times for sunset and happy hour.

    Carrie Ann Salvi is a reporter at The Star.