In 2006, right after I turned 32 I told James I needed something to change. He thought I was talking marriage and children, but I wasn't. It felt like I was hearing story after story about all my friends' travel adventures and all we ever used our vacation time for was to move/settle in or to visit sick family members or attend their funerals. I wanted us to start having real vacations too. I wanted my own travel stories and adventures.
We did some research and decided to take a cruise in January 2007. We decided January would be a good time to go somewhere tropical to escape the dreariness of the Northwest. At the time, I was working for a company with a fiscal year end so there was no rush of work to prepare for the auditors like there tends to be with companies with a calendar year end so getting time off then wouldn't be a problem for me. (I ended up changing jobs in September and going to a company that has a 12/31 year end and participates in CES, so no more early-January vacations for me. So worth it to have to pick one of the other 11 months to no longer be miserable at the office!) We decided on a cruise as it would allow us to see a few places instead of just one and decide if there were any of them we liked well enough to go back to for a full on vacation at a later date (kind of like on-location vacation research).
One of the stops on our cruise was Ochoa Rios, Jamaica. We had been doing one of the excursions offered at each stop and then exploring on our own. We decided to swim with dolphins for our Jamaican excursion. We were in a small group made up of passengers from a few different cruises. Two of the others in the group were from our ship: a woman about my age and her mother. The daughter ended up standing/floating next to James when we all got in the water. After we were all lined up (the best we could be given that it's really hard to form a straight line in water) we were told to move a little to the left. At the time, Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" was still popular and being told to move to the left caused James and the daughter to both start singing "to the left, to the left"-the opening lyrics to the song.
Ocho Rios was at the beginning of the cruise. From then on, whenever we saw the mother and daughter from the excursion on the ship, we would exclaim "Dolphin Buddies!!" and James and/or the daughter would sing "to the left, to the left." I heard this song the other day and was taken back to the only real vacation we ever got to have. It's funny the lasting impression people can have on your life even if they only pass through it. Wherever they are now, I hope our dolphin buddies are happily loving life.