Ahead of my highly anticipated trip to Jacksonville, I got an email from Mark, my childhood friend who is like a second brother to me. In it, he presented three options for my first day in Florida:
Option A: A friend offered me an opportunity to play golf at the TPC Sawgrass course for free (it usually costs $250)! It is an early tee time (7:30) and I would be the third person of the available four. There is one spot available for you if you want to play (Free).
A free round of golf on a course that the professionals play? Yes, please! My dad would be so proud and so jealous.
Option B: Jen was considering a spa outing. When you purchase any service (Mani, Pedi, Facial, massage, etc.) you can stay at the spa facility as long as you like and they have a really nice pool. Y'all could lounge at the pool after your treatment and then we could meet up for lunch. By the way this spa rocks we don't get to go very often but it is awesome. They also have a gym if you want to get up in there and work on your fitness!
I couldn't think of anything wrong with a day at the spa. Not one. Plus, I had been fairly stressed out at work, so a massage sounded perfect.
Option C – Do jack shit… wake up whenever and do whatever. Maybe ride some bikes to breakfast or just lounge on the couch.
Mmmm . . .bike rides . . .and breakfast . . .doing jack shit? I love them all equally.
Mark knows me. He knows me well. All of these options sounded like a perfect way to spend my first day in Jacksonville. There is no doubt that I'm a terrible decision maker, and with so many viable options, I actually had to ask Mark for more time to think about what I wanted to do.
I'll save you from the honest-to-God freak out that went on inside of my brain about which option to choose. My head is a dark, complicated place sometimes. Clearly a girl who stresses this much over such non-important decisions needs a trip to the spa. And just like that, my decision was made. I sent Mark and Jen an email; I told Mark to go play Sawgrass and told Jen to make me a massage appointment, preferably with a big, burly guy with strong hands.
I know all of you golfers out there are screaming at the computer, and there is a good chance my dad will never speak to me again after knowing I had the option to play golf for free and turned it down. But I think I made the right decision. I know I did. I mean, let's be serious -- I don't think my golf game is quite ready for Sawgrass. I don't think Sawgrass is ready for my golf game either.
Plus, Mark had to get up super early (he was already gone when I got up), and since I'd arrived so late, sleeping in was definitely a priority. Jen and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast (that included toast with cranberry lemon jelly which I instantly became obsessed with) and then we headed over to the Spa at Sawgrass.
One of my favorite things about spas is that moment when I first walk in and can feel the clam aura come over here. The lobby smelled like eucalyptus and mint; it was like stepping into a bear hug or a cozy blanket. After checking in at the front desk, we did as Mark suggested and "worked on our fitness" for a little bit before rinsing off in the luxurious locker room.
I don't want to go on and on about this locker room, because that's just mean to all of you who weren't there. Plus, I feel like if I tell you how incredibly awesome it was, I might portray myself as some redneck country bumpkin who hasn't ever seen a spa before, and that's not the case at all. I've been to many spas; several, in fact, for blog challenges (facial, Brazilian wax, reflexology). I love spas, and have for many years. But this was the first time I spent a significant part of my day at one. I mean, we packed bags, unloaded our belongings into a locker, wrapped ourselves up with the soft robes and slippers they'd provided and then helped ourselves to lemon lime water and trail mix.
All this, of course, right before we lounged dramatically onto a chaise lounge and waited for our big, burly massage man to beckon us for our hour long massages.
At one point, I asked myself, "Who the hell do you think you are?" And then I laughed as I added it to the list of other times I've asked that very question throughout the year. Thanks to some very good and generous friends, I've done some pretty amazing things.
The generosity continued when Jen let me have the only male masseuse on staff that day; he wasn't particularly burly, but he was talented and I was completely relaxed. I dreaded the hour ending, but I left feeling renewed, rejuvenated and confident that whatever the price, it was worth it.
And the massage just kicked off the day. We decided to make the most of our time, so next, Jen and I changed into our bathing suits and alternated between the steam room and the Jacuzzi tub before heading outside to the pool. The weather was overcast, but that didn't stop us from ordering a glass of champagne and toasting to our good fortune.
Sipping champagne in the middle of the day by the pool was another one of Day 334's things I've never done before. And it was splendid in every way.
I couldn't help but consider, as Jen and I sat there talking about life, that the atypical kind of day I was having was probably ordinary to some people. I felt so blessed and so lucky to be there, but there have to be people who enjoy such luxury all of the time. I paused, my champagne glass in hand, and tried to think of a plan so that my life could include more mornings at the spa, so that I could be more like those people. And then feeling my relaxation and my sanity slipping away, I stopped myself and said a small prayer instead. "Thank you God, for making this day possible. And thank you for allowing me the perspective to truly appreciate it."
We finished our champagne and enjoyed long, hot relaxing showers in the locker room before headed back to the lounge to get ready for the day. We met Mark back at the house; he was giddy because he’d birdied a hole on his golf outing. I briefly thought I might’ve made the wrong decision about going to the spa, and then I remembered how much I suck at golf, and remembered that I absolutely made the right decision. We headed to lunch Palm Valley Fish Camp, where good decisions continued. We sat at the bar, I ordered a delicious shrimp salad, we sat outside on the dock and looked at the river. I was truly at peace, and halfway into Day 334 (Day One of Jacksonville), already having so much fun.
After lunch, we drove over TPC Sawgrass to see the course that Mark had played earlier that day. Admittedly, I love golf as much for the landscaping of the courses, the outfits, and the clubhouse as I do for the game itself. Our afternoon visit allowed me to enjoy what I love without ever swinging a club. So I managed to achieve several of those things without actually playing.
TPC is every bit as lovely as I would've expected it to be, and it's a golf course I've seen in photographs and on television many times before, I just hadn't realized it until I saw it for myself. The Players Championship tournament is played there every May and the clubhouse is full of portraits from past tournaments and clubs of previous winners. I immediately started planning my return to Jacksonville for the TPC. I may not be ready to play the course myself, but walking around and watching the professionals do it would suit me just fine.
By the time we were done seeing the course, we headed back to Mark and Jen's house for a little pre-drink cocktail (Shark Bites, Jen's specialty) and obviously some more relaxing.
Before leaving for Jacksonville, I connected with my friends Julie and Sean, who also live in Jacksonville. We went to their house before dinner where I got to play "matchmaker" for two sets of friends (that's right, I allowed my worlds to collide). Turns out, the collision was a good thing, and we all enjoyed tasty tacos and plenty of tequila at Taco Lu and made plans for the next day.
When I look back on that day, I guess I don't really have much to show for it. No souvenirs, and no pictures even of the beautiful places I went and the beautiful food I ate. (This is my fault, of course. I took pictures, they are just lost in the snow in New York).
But it was a full day. A full day indeed.
I'm a good decision-maker.