Growing up, because my parents were a single-income household and they had four children, most of our vacations were trips to campgrounds, the lake houses of my grandparents, or to visit family friends. There were a few exceptions, of course, like my trip to Boston with my mother so I could check out the Mount Washington Observatory because I was a weather nerd as a child and the entire family’s trip to Montana and Washington. I’ve never been to Disneyland and my memories of the Mall of America are vague and distant because I’m pretty sure they happened before I turned six. Probably much earlier.
I’m not complaining. My vacations were just different, not necessarily better or worse. The parts I remember most fondly aren’t even the vacations themselves, but the things around the vacation. Getting excited for the upcoming trip and the books, audio books, and GameBoy games I’d line up for what seemed like car trips that lasted forever. Getting takeout the night before so there were no dishes to do and no mess to clean up. Getting woken up at 4 in the morning by my dad because I was only kid who wouldn’t try to go back to sleep and could be trusted to get myself into the car. When I was younger, getting wrapped up in blankets against the chilly morning air and bundled into the car amongst our bags and coolers so that I got to spend the entire car trip wrapped in a cozy cocoon. The sense of safety and warmth I felt as my dad drove us through the dark early morning hours of the day and I knew that I could sleep safely because he’d never let anything happen to us. The fascination I learned staring at the horizon as the sun rose and at the sky or horizon as the miles passed. The satisfaction and comfort that came from being my dad’s copilot when I was older, the person trusted to stay awake and sit in the front seat because I would talk and could read the map.
Trips are different now. I still love the sun rises, leaving early in the morning, and watching the horizon as the miles roll by, but now I take my trips mostly on my own. I drive to my grandparents’ cottage or to visit friends in different cities. Occasionally, I drive someplace for a camping trip or to visit family. The feeling of wonder and other-worldliness is gone, replaced by a mental checklist of things to bring, where my gas station stops will be, and where my turns are. I think I’m starting to understand how my dad felt when we prepared and went on trips, perhaps minus the sense of responsibility for all the other occupants of my car as there are none.
These days, my vacations tend to focus more on resting and recovering than going somewhere. I don’t really have the money to take short trip to Portland or Seattle. Leaving the country is incredibly complicated and even more expensive, so that’s out as well. I could go camping, sure, but I usually only take vacations when I am in desperate need of relaxation and rest. Then, I generally want to stay around my apartment and save money because going places, doing things, and trying to figure out how to squeeze money out of my budget is exhausting.
That’s what this week’s vacation was. I did a single day trip to visit some college professors and friends, and then stayed at home the rest of the time, doing little things around the house and trying to focus on sleeping well, eating well, and doing some maintenance work on my life. Clutter clearing has been going well and I’ve completely cleaned my room. I also reorganized my bookshelves, so I’ll hopefully be able to handle new books without having to move pretty much every book I own for at least the rest of the calendar year. After that, all bets are off.
We’ll see whether or not it worked as time goes on. Going back to work after a vacation is always difficult and I’m struggling a little harder than usual because my soul yearns to write constantly. I had a taste of the freedom that sort of life could afford me and I’m going to be fighting myself when it comes to going in to work on Monday…