Vacation…vacation…vacation…It is something I spend the whole year dreaming about, anticipating the relaxing moments when I don’t have a care in the world besides what restaurant to eat at or what exotic drink to order. All day could be spent on a beach under an umbrella reading a favorite novel or poolside, pampered by endless cocktails and droplets of water to cool me off. Maybe it’s a ski resort with long days spent on the slopes and nights relaxing by a fireplace with hot chocolate and huge marshmallows that stick to my upper lip every time I take a sip. There are nightclubs for dancing until three in the morning and a small cafe open 24 hours for that last little treat before the sun comes up. These are a few of my favorite vacation daydreams.
They’re not realistic, I know. I don’t consider the bugs that keep lighting and sticking onto my oily skin at the beach or the jerk that cannonballs into the pool, dousing everyone and leaving me with a watered down chlorine cocktail. Or the aching knees from spending all day skiing and the inability to put one foot in front of the other without wincing from the sharp pain in my back. The nightclubs are out of the question because I can’t keep my eyes open past 10 pm and the quaint little cafe has been out of business for weeks. It’s being replaced by yet another souvenir shop.
Vacation, for me, feels like a hot air balloon trip, floating effortlessly above my crazy, hectic life. There may be some initial difficulty getting off the ground but reality is overcome as the basket begins to lift off and carries me to new places and to see new things. I am liberated from all my cares and responsibilities. Sweet freedom. Maybe it’s selfish, but it feels good to leave everyone behind and just enjoy. My cup overflows with nothing but time. This liberating concoction refreshes my soul and washes away the layers of dirt and grime that have accumulated from the day to day grind. Schedules to keep, discipline to dish out, conflicts to resolve, checkbooks to balance, all gone with four little words: I’m on vacation! The balloon floats higher and higher, but ultimately, without notice, the wind changes and the balloon ride is soon to be over.
As the burden of replotting my course rests on my shoulders, I take the balloon down a little and try to catch the draft again before I veer too far off course. Maybe this is just a temporary setback. A mere miscalculation. Throughout the rest of the ride, I may find that sweet current again and ride the wind as far as I can take it, but eventually, I will have to come back down. Sometimes, the landing back into reality can be harsh and abrupt. Instantly bombarded with siblings bickering and dishes left in every room, I mourn the loss of my time and struggle with getting back into the swing of sharing myself again. Don’t get me wrong, my family life is not bad. I enjoy my family immensely and they give me joy every day (sometimes I have to look under piles of clothing on the floor to find it, but I do).
Kurtiss and I just returned from Las Vegas. It was our first true getaway since we have had kids (almost 13 years). The balloon doesn’t just lift off smoothly after being grounded for so many years but we were finally able to enjoy our time and drift carelessly in the prevailing winds. It wasn’t perfect. We were tired, had aching backs from walking all day and throbbing headaches from drinking two beers (lightweights, I know) but it was good to rediscover what time together feels like. We had and exceptionally smooth landing as we were greeted with smiling faces, a clean house, and stories of what happened while we were gone. A sweet welcome back to our life on the ground. Time to start daydreaming again….