Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let's Get Out of Here

I haven't taken a proper vacation in years. Frankly, relaxation just takes too much work. I'm assuming you've seen the commercial where Tinkerbell sprinkles some pixie dust on a house and, poof, like magic the family is transported to Disneyland with grotesquely stretched smiles as wide as their crooked mouse ears. This. Is. A. Lie. I've poured a blizzard of shimmery materials all over my apartment, and yet here I sit, mouse earless in the "unhappiest place on earth": my living room.

A real vacation is not brought to you effortlessly by fairies. It is brutally carved out of budgetary spreadsheets, comparative travel websites, overtaxed calendars, and tears. Lots of them. Which, to my mind, kind of seems like the thing you are trying to take a vacation from. So I avoid them. I avoid them until I can not.

Eventually the pent up vacation impulse wins out. It usually happens at awkward times. I'll be having a pleasant dinner with someone then blurt out, "I haven't seen the sun in 5 days. I'm driving to Santa Fe! I need sun!" or "I want to see a penguin. I wonder how hard it would be to go to Antarctica?... PENGUINS!" Such enthusiastic exclamations of spontaneous adventurism usually receive a head tilt and a calculating look as to how much food needs to be removed from the plate until it would not be considered impolite to leave. The next day will find me in an ugly rental car heading off quixotically to... wherever.

I permanently damaged my hip in New York, almost got a bear hug from a black bear in Tahoe, and walked the streets of Phoenix when even the people who lived there thought it was too hot to go outside. This is not macho bravado, this is sheerly the result of an absence of forethought or common sense. With a little planning (more sensible shoes, hotel instead of sketchy cabin, look at the weather before leaving) I wouldn't have had to experienced these things and enjoyed a tranquil holiday. But then the story would be less interesting, wouldn't it? And truly, what's a vacation without a good story?
posted by jw