Many of you know that I just returned from the longest vacation of my life — a full five weeks on Florida’s West Coast.
Prior to the trip, I began concocting plans for all I wanted to do, see and accomplish while away:
Get the audiobook up and available online.
Visit Captiva and Sanibel Islands.
Spot a wild dolphin.
Start writing my next book.
The list went on.
And I’m happy to say that most of my goals were achieved, including each of the above.
But among my aspirations was one that may seem strange to some:
Complete a difficult jigsaw puzzle.
When I was a child, and into my teen years, I always had a jigsaw puzzle going. And as far as I was concerned, the harder — the better.
I did an all-black puzzle with only a tiny pinhole of light at the center.
One was just bubbles.
I enjoyed the square variety where the same picture from the front was displayed again on the back, only rotated 90 degrees.
I did puzzles where the frame was irregular instead of having flat edges.
And though finding room was a challenge, I often did puzzles of 4000 or 5000 pieces.
Still, as big a part of my growing-up years as puzzles were, it struck me recently that I hadn’t done a single one since high school.
As crazy as it sounds, setting into that jigsaw puzzle — whatever it would be — was cause for just as much anticipation as watching a tropical sunset. I’d been given a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas and had tucked it away in a special place, just the occasion.
Within 24 hours of arrival in Florida, I’d chosen a first puzzle. I decided to ease my way into it with a puzzle of a mere 500 pieces: a colorful underwater scene featuring sea turtles. (After all, I did have other things I wanted to be doing on this vacation besides puzzling.)
Working on the puzzle, I was transported back those three decades. I often became aware that I was biting my…