I  returned yesterday from a long weekend in Playa del Carmen, which is 55 minutes from Cancun. This morning as I dressed, I had to unpack my toiletries and found sand amongst my toothbrush and razor. Then I remembered lying on the beach. The sun was so hot, I felt paralyzed by the intensity of its rays even though I was under an umbrella. The taste of salt from the Margarita I had been sipping parched my lips and the sound of the waves soothed me back to a place I had forgotten about. That strange sense of relaxation is something I have consciously avoided. Why?

I don’t know.

The project manager at Here Media is from Australia. She told me that in Australia everyone gets four weeks vacation every year. I barely take a week off once a year. And even when I take five whole days, I’m in a state of panic before I depart as questions cloud my mind: What do we do with Hoffman? What if something bad happens to one of my patients? Who will check the office and make sure it doesn’t explode while I’m away?

I envy those who make it a habit to make time for themselves. Not taking routine vacations does your body and mind a disservice. I suppose I’m like a lot of people who feel they need to be available twenty-four/seven. What is it about us that makes us feel compelled to be available? I think it’s pathological. This want to be needed. My friend Scott told me that when his partner Eric gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night he checks his Blackberry. We both laughed at him but later as I walked home, I realized that I checked my own iPhone several times before I returned to my apartment.

We’re all guilty of it.

Chad didn’t bring his computer to Mexico and neither did I. He didn’t have cell phone service either, and after a brief panic, he felt an unusual sense of relief. I, of course, called AT&T and made sure I had service in Mexico before I left. So I was able to call the Puppy Loft where we boarded Hoffman and checked my emails daily. Okay, twice daily.

But then something miraculous happened after the first or second day. I found myself lying on a beach, slightly intoxicated by the sun, the waves, the tequila or maybe it was the music of the Cranberry’s song, Linger playing softly through the speakers at the bar that made me forget about everything I clung to so passionately as though my entire life depended upon it, and for five days I forgot about those things that seemed so important to me in my real life. To use a word my cousin Paul taught me, I felt transported. I was neither Dr. Frank nor son of Michelina Spinelli. I wasn’t the person who had to write a prescription for some poor soul in P Town who forgot his Valtrex and needed it ASAP because he had a date that night. No. I was none of those people. I was some anonymous male braising in the sun (under an umbrella of course) like a teenager at camp relaxing on the dock with my foot in the water and not a care in the world.

Then as the trip drew to an end, Chad and I were seated at some restaurant in the airport, sipping out last Margarita and eating our last tortilla chip before getting on the plane that was going to take us back to our “normal” lives. I turned on my phone to call Eric to make sure he picked up Hoffman from the Puppy Loft so that he would be waiting for us when we arrived. Suddenly, a text came through:

“My darling doctor. I’m at the Cape and of course in the midst of having a great time with some hot boy, the condom broke. This happened after he ejaculated. That’s when he told me he’s positive. What should I do? I have no luck with men.”

“What is it?” asked Chad.

I crinkled my toes and felt the annoying grit of sand in my sneakers. I closed my eyes and for a moment, I could still hear the Cranberry’s song drifting overhead like a scarf caught in the wind and as it drifted away across the sea, so did my memory of that life I had for five days.

“Just a minute,” I said to Chad as I typed a response to that desperate text. “I have to answer this.”



  1. Mich
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    welcome home … 2weeks without a post is much too long 😉

  2. Danh
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    you are such a great person!

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