Pulling the Plug and Then Pressing Unwind

As published in The Rye Record on January 13, 2012

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We decided to stick it to Santa this year. Christmas is so hectic, and we all needed a little down time, so we did the unthinkable – we went to Turks and Caicos on December 23. I’ve felt guilty about this since booking the flights. I mean no Christmas Eve turkey to cook and clean up after, no Christmas day roast to burn? Who do I think I am? What mom is relaxed over Christmas? Well, I’ll tell you, it took some doing.

Already revved up from spending, wrapping, shipping, and baking, I get my kids up at 4 a.m. to go to the airport. As we taxi down the runway, I unceremoniously power off my iPhone, not realizing that once we land it won’t work — for a week. Like a smoker looking for a hit, I power it back on the instant we land and get a message from AT&T threatening sky-high roaming charges. As my kids ooh and ah over the turquoise water, I take deep breaths and remember there’s supposed to be Wi-Fi at the hotel. I ditch my phone and clutch my laptop with both hands. So begins Day 1 of the unplugging process.

DAY 1

We register at the front desk, our kids are immediately checking out the pool, and I am paying the additional $42.50 for a week’s worth of Internet access. When I arrive at the room, I ignore the view and promptly check my laptop. I still cannot connect, so I march back to the concierge to complain. He apologizes with a shrug and asks me, “Why you want Internet access anyway?” I’m stunned and mutter something quickly before storming out. Why? Is he kidding? The financial markets are open. Ashton Kutcher is newly single. Heck, J. Crew could be offering free shipping. I even have an article to write and am going to need to email it to my sister to see if it’s printable. I need Internet access! I fall asleep wondering where the Nasdaq closed and if there is Wi-Fi in the front lobby.

DAY 2

I wake up and immediately check my laptop. There’s a connection! One message in my inbox, a coupon from Old Navy. I delete it with satisfaction. I’m back! Tom and I go to the gym, grab a coffee, and come back to get the kids for breakfast. The waitress asks if I’d like a mimosa. “It’s 8:30 in the morning,” I inform her. She gives me a why-you-want-Internet-access-anyway look and walks off to get my egg white omelet. Tom’s Blackberry is buzzing and beeping in the most annoying possible way, making me feel judgmental and jealous at the same time.

DAY 3

It’s Christmas and Tom has left his Blackberry in the room. I agree to a single mimosa with my egg whites. The bacon’s pretty good too. Before we head out for the day, I sneak a peak at my laptop. My dad and aunt have emailed to say Merry Christmas and Staples is offering 30% off printer ink.

DAY 4

Two mimosas with breakfast and, man, these pancakes are good.

DAY 5

The gym seems kind of crowded, so I grab a coffee and a chocolate croissant and get back in bed. Later, I tell my new friend Tanny, who’s in charge of mimosas, to lay off the orange juice. I snorkel, then ride an inner tube down something called the Lazy River. At lunchtime, I find myself eating a bacon cheeseburger in a bathing suit. I notice that my whiteness is less white and my grossness is less gross. Must be the clean living.

DAY 6

I’m really starting to relax. My little one has been taking candy canes from smiling strangers all day and has eaten every single one. My older kids have been swimming up to the bar all afternoon and ordering virgin (I’m pretty sure) pina coladas. Tom’s Blackberry is still buzzing and ringing and beeping, but in a much happier, more melodic way. I remember I have an article to write, but I have no ideas and think I see a hammock with my name on it.

DAY 7

We land in Miami and are all the way through Customs before I remember that I can check my phone. There’s the free shipping offer I’d been waiting for from J. Crew and a little Facebook activity: a girl from my high school posts that she went to the Ikea in Burbank and bought napkins. I might just stay unplugged for a few more days.

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