The first tropical vacation I ever took was on my parents’ honeymoon. My mother had just turned 22, and she was pregnant with me. We all went to Bermuda, almost universally against our will. My father said that when we landed back in New York, my mother ran screaming and crying back into her parent’s arms; they were waiting for her at the exit gate. It was the first time she had been away from them for more than a night. It was the last tropical vacation we took for many, many years.
For most of my youth, we spent a month of every summer on a Northeastern Island —Fire Island, Block Island, Nantucket, Shelter Island, fucking Nova Scotia. The chilly weather and frigid water suited our Irish blood. My father got to display his manliness by showing us he could stay two or three hours jumping waves even after his skin turned blue. My mother liked that there were cultural things to do on rainy days — lectures at the town hall, or scrimshaw classes at the whaling museum.
From morning until night, she kept us on a tight schedule of activities. Vacations were not about relaxation; they were about experiencing something new, which is why we island hopped as soon as anything became too familiar.
When oil was discovered in Tulsa at the beginning of the 20th century, there was such a boom in building that the architectural historian I was with today compared the phenomenon to Dubai in the 21st century.
The money dried up — but many of the beautiful art deco skyscrapers that were built remain.
Today, while lightening cut through the sky, we visited a few of them. The best way to describe them is to say that they are like jewel boxes — from the outside, they look like concrete monoliths, but on the inside, they’re saturated with decadent details.