When I recently searched through my archived photos (again!), I decided to pull out some of the Sanibel Island vacation snapshots. We lived in the Fort Myers area for two years (and 30 minutes away from the island where my daughter worked three days a week), and throughout much of that time my husband and I experienced profound frustration. They say time heals all wounds, and after viewing the photos, I agree—at least in this instance. For I must admit that I once again feel quite nostalgic about this place.
The heart of our frustration concerned the task of driving our daughter to her job, and it was this routine that quashed many of the warm, fuzzy feelings about the island that had taken years to develop and grow. The utilitarian trek soon became nothing but agony as I attempted to navigate through the throngs of other drivers in the morning and afternoon rush hours. I was initially heartbroken as I experienced my newfound feelings for the island, for we have vacationed there since the late ‘80s, and my sadness soon turned to anger towards the drivers and the traffic operators and the fact that from my neighborhood there was only one road that allowed me and thousands of others into the Fort Myers area. But most of all, I despised the tourists, those oblivious ringleaders of traffic congestion, whose typical destinations might include trendy restaurants and overpriced attractions. No where was this phenomenon more obvious than on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. If one wanted to visit the post office on Tarpon Bay Road from Lindgren Drive, via Periwinkle Way, one would travel 5-8 minutes during the low season. But the onslaught of high season obviously brought thousands of extra cars, and the trip could take three to four times as long. At the end of my daughter’s workday, it was not unusual to encounter standstill traffic on the causeway, and the three-mile journey off-island could easily take a half hour.
Of course, the diatribe above is irrational, since my family and I were once ourselves southwest Florida invaders and rubberneckers. During our visits, our most pressing activities included restaurant selection scheduled around activity masterminding. I remember it all too well and gave little thought to how our arrival and subsequent outings impacted the locals. So while my first paragraph might make me seem a bit dotish, I consider it to be a catharsis of sorts, and perhaps even a catalyst to remind me of how fortunate we have been and how my daughter has matured and thrived. After all, our move to SWFL allowed her to acquire many new skills while working in the accounting department of a Sanibel Island resort, and her ensuing confidence and poise increased with each passing day.
These conflicting thoughts writhe in my mind as I insert the photos into the slideshows, and I discover I must add yet another sentiment. Namely, that I am grateful to have the opportunity to write the snappish prose above. For its existence means that my daughter received an opportunity that energized and empowered her.