Sunday, September 26, 2010

What I Did On My Vacation

Warning: This post contains no graphic material of any kind.* Proceed at your own visual risk.

*Because the author was too busy having fun to remember to take the camera
or even to plug in the camera batteries for charging. She apologizes.

After the thrill of our housewarming party--my social debut, as it were--we began a week of vacation. Or, as I like to call it, our annual honeymoon. We've been taking our leave of the routine in September for a few years now. It's a great time for a holiday. The official vacation season for everyone else is over, so attractions and lodgings are less crowded and sometimes less expensive. Temperatures are usually more comfortable. Plus, we smugly feel as if we're some of the few out wandering and enjoying ourselves instead of having to work. Please don't disillusion us with reminders about the retired, etc.

To be more accurate, we had a bona fide Stay-cation. We've already been staying close to home for these last few years and only being gone through the week. No undone laundry and exhaustion when you haul yourself straight back to work that way. But this year, having chosen to spend our money on the new barn...I mean, house...instead, we really stayed put. As in, at the house. We took some day trips, but slept in our own bed each night.

In the weeks before annual honeymoon time, I had been jotting down things we could do without leaving our area. It was surprising how many ways I came up with to pleasantly while away leisure hours no more than an hour away. Here's my list. (Settle down, class.)

  1. Visit a pumpkin farm

  2. Browse in our local bookstore (for which we had a coupon, too)

  3. Visit the nearest small city for a dose of what small towns don't offer

  4. Visit an apple orchard

  5. Drive down that road whose destination we've always wondered about

  6. Have lunch at the local country market

  7. Check out the Covered Bridge Museum in our own little downtown

  8. Visit the church where our neighbor pastors

  9. More antiquing (I'm officially hooked)
We knocked out all the items on our list but one. Our intended orchard was closed both times we drove down there. Disappointing. But there were the bonuses. Who knew that the tiny local airport had an F-4 Phantom jet parked there for display? We didn't until Monday. We just drove up there to see how the airport looked because we had the time to satisfy our curiosity. The man working there seemed happy to tell us all kinds of things about the plane, how it came to be there (connections count once again), and flying in general.

That enthusiasm is one of the delights about visiting small towns on our travels. Dedicated caretakers of historical sights and earnest business owners are so eager to share with visitors about their town and its story. And when we listen, we find out all over again that every burg and every person has a heck of a story, hidden away below the greater cultural hoopla. We love finding them. Especially as tourists in our own home towns, so to speak.

Here at the end of the week, I can say that it was a relaxing way to do les vacances. But in the middle of the week, we were encountering the pitfalls of an at home vacation. Since we weren't going out of town, I didn't do up all the laundry early in order to get through the week. Thus Wednesday found me doing the wash so that we wouldn't run out of clean underwear. That chore was un-fun enough. Then the dryer began to make a horrible sound and, worse yet, to overheat. That situation was entirely too real world for a vacation week. Enough clothes got dry without frying to go on with our pretend life, so I put on my Denial hat and went back to enjoying myself. Needless to say, one of the items I added to my To Do list for the coming week was "Find dryer repair person." I'm willing to deal with it now that I'm not on vacation.

The moment that I found myself balancing the checkbook while fretting about the broken dryer on my vacation, I called a halt to that unacceptable boundary blurring and retreated to the deck with a book. On Thursday, we were back out the door, running away to fun. That was more like it. And so the week ended well, with long conversations about dreams and goals for the real life we're preparing to re-enter. We're almost ready to be our old selves again.

At first it seemed a little odd to me that I was so eagerly anticipating our vacation this year, when I knew that we had next to no money and no charming B&B stay awaiting us. But that's not the best part of vacation anyway. It's really the mental escape that's so alluring. For a week, I drop all my usual concerns and requirements and just seek to savor. We wander and adventure, enjoying each others company free of the daily demands. And of course there's the sleeping til we naturally wake. That treat is almost a vacation in itself.

On balance, I still might prefer to go away in future years. A more complete boundary between Everyday and Play Days would be easier and clearer, with no chance that I'll again find myself doing something as quotidienne as hanging light fixtures and moving clothes on my vacation. But then again, being at home with all our accoutrements handy meant that we had the right shoes for long morning walks, and we didn't have to find a cat sitter.

What I learned from my Stay-cation is that vacation is more a state of mind than a geographic relocation. The latter just helps the former. Now if I learn to hang out the "She's on vacation" sign (I hope you pictured with me Forest Gump's mama there, just for fun) more regularly, I might be a much happier person. And then my sweet husband would be, too!

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