They say getting there is half the fun. Where in the world is David Heitz?


It has been a long, exhausting day.

But in a good way. And before I lie down to say my prayers, I must say: “I’m in Miami, b*tch.”

I’m not being vulgar. It’s a line from a song.

What a space – a stunning ocean view. With a balcony!

And a gigantic, wall-mounted flat-screen television. And a giant stuffed tortoise on the bed.


I’m going to hang out here a while. I think I made a good choice for a place to recharge my batteries.

Lord knows I need it.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, I started poking around the web for vacation ideas. Where should I go? And when?

So gray outside. Grayness predicted for the next seven days, in fact. Rain, sleet, snow, cold.


And even L.A. has horrid weather at present. So, that was out, even though it usually is my first choice.

I decided to go to South Florida. In fact, what better way to honor mom and dad both then to go to Fort Lauderdale, where I had been with both of them, once with the whole fam damily in 1978, in dad’s GMC truck (oh God, that’s a column in and of itself); the second time, my first airplane ride, at age 9, with mom, on Ozark Airlines.

To the very same airport that made headlines when a veteran believed to have PTSD opened fire and killed five people a week ago.

Sad on so many levels. Why didn’t someone help this man? Why aren’t we doing a better job of caring for our veterans, and all people struggling with mental illness?

Because we stigmatize mental illness, so nobody ever admits they need help.

Damned lucky and I know it

Aunt Wanda convinced me, “Just leave today! Hell, I’ll take you to the airport.”

Here I am. It’s 1 a.m. Friday eastern time. My plane landed an hour ago. The Super Shuttle driver took me through the drive-through of an old-fashioned McDonald’s, the kind with the little man doing his little dance under the neon arches, like the old McDonald’s on 11th Street in Rock Island next to Geifman’s grocery.

I really like the hotel. I’d like to just move in permanently! There’s a Keurig in the room, well stocked. The room service menu is much to my liking. And the view – I may never leave the room! (Of course I will!)

Tomorrow I will see my dear friend Paul. It has been decades. I’m going to be thrilled to see him.

I am beyond blessed to be able to come here for a while to heal. Who is that lucky? Not many people, that is for sure.

I cannot express my gratitude enough. Life was hard. And now it’s time to heal and move forward. Not everybody is lucky enough to have resources for great medical care, not to mention a vacation like this.

I’m damned lucky.

Fabulous company on a fun flight

On the airplane, I sat next to a delightful couple from Colombia. He is German; she’s from Singapore. They had begun their journey this morning in Singapore, then flew 15 hours to Chicago. They stopped once in Hong Kong, the man said. They then flew from Chicago to Miami.

They were incredibly sexy, both of them. I know. So bad! I must be letting my hair down!

He was so friendly. He talked about how he does business in Switzerland and makes a lot of money and lives in Colombia where it’s cheap.

Yeah, I know how that might sound. He designs displays for conventions, he told me. We talked about Colombia’s cable car system and how it is making a comeback. I had seen something on NPR about that.

He kept telling me I would really enjoy a Carnival cruise. We talked non-stop. Very chatty fellow. Awesome accent. His girlfriend smiled at me a lot.

Upon takeoff, the little girl in front of us kept screaming, “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!”

It was lovely. Really, it was. She was adorable. And her mother said she has flown multiple times and does that every time for effect. LOL.

The flight attendant who made all the announcements — I never saw her. At least I don’t think I did. But she sounded like she could have been the most fabulous flight attendant in the history of the world, like she was from the Concord or something. The other flight attendants also were quite fancy and had fancy hairdos.

‘The Bodyguard’

I often designate a person as my “bodyguard” when I’m in unfamiliar territory in a large crowd, which makes me a little nervous due to my own PTSD. It sounds silly, but generally I am not a fan of large crowds.

So, I trick myself. There always is someone around who, in my head at least – that person is my bodyguard.

So, at Quad-City Airport, here’s this non-descript fellow who fit the “bodyguard” description well. Mind you, I think my mind guards my body well, actually. But sometimes you want a well-built one around, too.

It’s late and I’m tired. At any rate, the “bodyguard” guy ended up on the Chicago to Miami flight too, three rows behind me.

Anxious for sunrise, but tired, too

The waves are crashing. The palm trees are swaying. I think when the sun comes up and I look outside I might faint. I’ll see the sunrise over the sea. As a morning person, I should love that.

I’m sleeping with the slider open. I hope no spiders crawl into my bed. The tortoise will eat them, if so.

Maybe I should close the slider. Florida has hella bugs.

It’s kind of hot here, to be honest. I have the air cranked. I mean…it’s too hot without the air. I’m sweating. At 1:09 a.m. on Jan. 13, Friday the 13th.

In South Florida. Oceanfront. Serenity. Peace.

Good night.


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