As we Christians observed the beginning of the Lenten season by fasting and abstaining, lovers of the greeting card industry - I mean, Valentine's Day - bought chocolate in droves and school-aged children salivated over an impending long weekend. Ooh, and the world's best big brother, mine, had a birthday - happy day, Dan!
And then, something weird happened: I went to Florida.
That's right. For three days I was surrounded by 80-degree temperatures and sunshine. In February.
Before you start cursing me and breaking your Lenten resolutions, it was a work trip. For those of you who travel often or even occasionally for business, you understand the true meaning of the term.
For those who do not, allow me to sum it up in six words: I do not have a tan.
You see, here's the thing about a work trip: It is not, for the record, vacation. It's, you know, work. In fact, you put in far more hours when traveling for work than you do in the office, hands down.
It's busy. It's hectic. It's rushed. You have to fit a week's worth of clothes into a tiny sandwich baggie lest you face $497 in extra fees or standing in line for an additional two-days awaiting your luggage at the baggage claim. Blech on both counts. I went for the baggie.
Then there's security check. Airport screens are not even remotely amusing. Well, except for how you look - inside and out. Because, after they relegate you to unbelted, shoeless, sweatshirt-free (if it's an outer layer) status, they don't just look at you, they look through you, literally (Read: the x-ray bad-people spotter inside which you need to assume the position of a cat burglar who's just been caught lifting a Ming Dynasty vase).
I'm trying to clear up a misnomer here, folks. For as soon as someone hears the word "Florida," there's an automatic assumption of sipping mai tais on the beach or lounging poolside from sun-up to sundown.
A work trip includes none of this. In fact, your only view of the delightful palm trees swaying in the warm breeze is from your perch inside the conference room between back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings. You have to forego your bed, your pillow, your routine. You have say the rosary an extra few times.
Yes, yes, you do.
Downtime? You will eventually have plenty. Unfortunately, it will come as you struggle to find comfort in uber-awkward airport seats near the boarding gate after the flight attendant announces your departing flight has been delayed. If you're really lucky, you'll get some extra quality minutes on the tarmac, too, waiting to taxi off into the wild blue yonder ... onto a flight, by the way, that may or may not feel eerily similar to a ride on the Millennium Force at Cedar Point - except that it lasts for two-and-a-half hours.
Oh, and then there's the whole Ohio vs. Florida argument that ensues whenever a work trip requires Buckeyes to travel to the Sunshine State.
Inevitably, this particular flight path always leads to an argument between diehard northerners and (mostly transplanted) southerners. Ohioans will defend our bitter cold and snowy winters by countering that the humidity and sweltering temps of Florida in August are unbearable.
Tornadoes vs. hurricanes. Year-round sun vs. changes of season. It goes on and on.
Listen, I'd love to tell you that I hated every minute in Florida. That I wasn't thrilled beyond words to spend time with my snowbirding parents. That I was not floating on air to be able to be outdoors running - in shorts! - in February, even if I had to do it at 4:30 a.m.
But I don't want to lie, especially during Lent. Florida is sublime. I love it there, period. There, I said it. Could I be persuaded to move their sometime in my golden years? Ha! Try to stop me.
Bottom line? My heart a.k.a. family is in Ohio.
And you know what? That's the only sunshine you really need.
I couldn't wait another second to get back Kyle, Kerry and Monnie - even if it was only 30-degrees and snowing when I did.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist and lover of Vitamin D. Contact her with your favorite Sunshine State story at firstname.lastname@example.org.