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It’s February, and winter has finally arrived in Chicago. Snow, sleet, freezing temps, negative wind chills. The whole package. Granted, it’s a little late, but its intensity makes up for the delay.

Everywhere I turn, I see ads for tropical getaways, lists of the year’s top destinations, and pictures of friends basking in the warmth of the faraway sun, on the beach, in bathing suits, drinking beers.

And I’m sitting inside my lukewarm house, wrapped in a blanket, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, gazing outside at my freshly blanketed backyard, and listening to cars make slush on the road.

And now I’m regretting passing up the chance at a family vacation last year.

It’s been almost three years since Jacob and I spent a week away from real life, relishing the California lifestyle in San Francisco and Monterey. And a heck of a lot has happened since then.

Yeah, I guess if I really wanted to, I could count our two months in New Jersey last summer as a vacation. True, we were away from home. And being away from home is a major vacation criterion. Plus, we spent our weekends exploring New York City, driving to the Jersey Shore, and laying out by the pool. Sounds like stuff you’d do on vacation, right? But that doesn’t account for every weekday (and some weekends, too) spent commuting to and from the office to work and make a living.

Plus, who goes to Jersey on vacation?

When I talk about vacation, I’m talking about a sand-between-my-toes, umbrella-in-my-drink, room-service-and-fresh-towels, not-a-care-in-the-world vacation!

It’s been three years. I know what I need, and I need one now.

It’s gonna happen this year. I don’t know how or when, exactly, but it’ll happen. And soon. Because I’m gonna make it happen. I’m not letting another year go by without any tacky souvenirs, photo albums and postcards to prove to the world that I let loose for a week.

That’s all it needs to be. Just a week. A little week. Heck, I’d even settle for a three-day weekend at this point. But why settle?! It’s been three years! 

Chicago, I love ya, but this frosty February is making me crave something a little more, shall we say, Caribbean? Someplace with accents, spicy food, a temperate climate, beaches, waterfalls … Something that requires a plane ticket, a full-size suitcase, and is far, far away from my snowy backyard and my home office.