Airport transactions are less drab on the 24th of December. The “cheery” seems to waft up like static scuffed out of the undulating teal and salmon patterned carpet at your gate, out of the pile of newspapers you read and shed while clutching your boarding pass, out of the styrofoamed coffee, in the reassuring Morse code of overhead bin latches and safety belt buckles as we close our eyes.
Then, we are on the sidewalk, and that first intake of warm moist Braindeadlian air is like being hitched up to a morphine drip. We are sinking into Fort Lauderdale for a week, and we barely hear the horn of Gabe’s Lexus, and we demand open windows for the short trip from the airport, and we lunch at Fernanda’s with luggage still in the trunk, relieved to find that the calamari salad is still the best in the world.
Stepping off the elevator on the seventeenth floor of our building, I feel anxious as I fish for the keys, I open the door, and that mildly disinfectant scent that I have never been able to expunge rushes to greet us like a joyful dog left alone too long. So different from the scent of our New York place which is darker and oaken, toasted, and with hints of berries and plum. So different from our home in the Wretched Little City, where the scent of garlic in olive oil greets you like a bossy and illegal housekeeper.
We find the installation of new hurricane windows and door to be completed. The crew has left no debris, but there is a thin film of white dust on every surface. Before we unpack, we clean the place, top to bottom, shedding northern clothing as we work. This dust has ignored the restrictions of cabinetry. Even the Motrin bottle in the medicine cabinet needs a rinse.
Yes, Eddie, the chairs are vintage Saarinen (even the red vinyl cushions are original). I found them roadside in Connecticut, housing spiders. The table is a Raymond Loewy design with matching chairs that are in storage because their slick seats make naked sitting adhesive.
Cleaning a place that you’ve been away from for awhile is not so dreary a task. Not unlike a re-acquaintance or a resurrection staged by carpetbaggers. I pause to admire my own modest design coup: a diamond plate truck box from Home Depot. I drilled four holes in its base and added the wheels. It functions as coffee table, extra seating, and, as locked storage for special things that need security while we are away: our favorite mugs, the in-line skates, leather flip flops acceptable at the Ramrod on a week night, our Club Baths membership cards, a favorite Dolce and Gabbana bathing suit, bitters, Maker’s Mark, vermouth and poppers.
With a huge sunny stretch of afternoon left for divertissement, we cross the street to Hugh Taylor Birch Park and do eight miles on our skates. A restorative jump in the pool, and we begin to think about the night to come.