Remember going back to school as a child, and being asked to write “What I Did On My Summer Vacation?” Being a child that loved to write more than talk, I always looked forward to that particular assignment and the opportunity to express myself on paper. I don’t recall much of what I wrote, but I’m confident some of it was filled with details of family vacations and times like when my two siblings and I would pile into the rear of our Plymouth station wagon (so early in the morning that our eyes still had not yet fully adjusted to the light) and devour our lunch sandwiches (bologna on white bread smeared with butter…really. Really??) before we even reached the next town. By the time we arrived at our destination hours later, our stomachs were growling, but so were our parents, because of all the bickering that went on between my brother, sister and me. I loved our summer vacations, we were lucky enough because our parents took out vacation loans to help with the financial side of things. We always got to go where we wanted! Our car trips were always to the usual spots popular among young families: one summer it was Washington, DC., another it would be Mystic, Connecticut or Salem, Massachusetts. My favorite vacation was staying in a beautiful villa Antigua. There are undoubtedly many more that escape my memory (there I go again with that memory thing) but I’m sure you all have your own list which is probably quite similar. It’s a funny thing how I always remember what it felt like to leave for vacations as a child but never remember what it felt like to return home.
I’ve been thinking a lot about vacations lately because I just returned from one. And in this so-called midlife, life gets a bit more complicated, bologna sandwiches don’t hold the appeal they once did (thank goodness for that) and summer vacations sorted out after juggling all the holiday rental ideas, though wonderful, don’t come without their challenges, starting from the moment you leave to come home.
Why is it that the rich memories of vacation, days upon days of meandering through time and feeling like you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do and can do just about anything you feel like doing, so quickly evaporate once the plane touches down on the runway – or even before? I was determined not to let a 4-hour weather delay dare touch my vacation-zen, but face it: it’s tough to ignore the hassle that comes with gate changes. And how easy was it not to absorb at least some of the negative energy that surrounded me? Grumpy passengers, loud static announcements, confusion and impatience reigned throughout the International Terminal at San Francisco’s airport, where dining options were less-than-stellar. Again I’ll spare you the details of the rest, which includes making the mistake of taking advantage of internet 35,000 feet up in the air and checking my emails, getting home really really late and discovering a freezer that quit some time between when I first left and when I returned. (Twelve days is a long time for chicken and fish and ice cream to defrost and sit there.) Insert gagging noise. I’m grateful I could get away. I’m still remembering the bliss of being on vacation. That isn’t totally escaping my memory. But if you have a solution to easing re-entry and preserving some of those vacation-is-bliss-feelings, please feel free to share it. As for the freezer, I finally got the opportunity I needed to clean it out and get rid of the things that were sitting there since my last vacation. And that huge pile of mail that still taunts me? I’ll get to it before my next vacation, I’m sure. My friend has recently been looking at hotels in copenhagen which is really tempting me to look for another vacation already. Better sort that mail!