Somehow whenever I plan a vacation, life makes me work extra hard the week before I go to really earn it. (As if writing every day for 182 days doesn’t earn me some mental detachment on the sand of a beach on an island in the middle of the Pacific). We’ve planned this trip for 10 months or 9 years, however, you want to look at it.
On our first trip to Hawaii together, before children and marriage and mortgages, we vowed to bring our kids here one day. When our daughter was born, we received as a gift “two weeks in our condo in Hawaii” but we haven’t been able to use it until now. We needed to save up some frequent flyer miles.
I’ve notoriously felt superstitious about getting too excited about going on a vacation until I’ve stepped off the plane. There are SO MANY things which can go wrong between then and now. When I held a corporate job, there was the added pressure of having to do all of your work or delegate your work for when you’d be gone. Of course, on the return, you’d have to catch up on all your work and I remember thinking the week before and the week after would be extra stressful leaving me the one week I’d be on vacation, obsessed with using every second. Luckily with the disposal of the job, came the feeling that no one else owned my time, my most precious resource.
Now we are a few days away from departure and while I’ve gathered all the supplies we need: sunscreen, new rash guards for the kids, snorkels, prescription goggles, etc. (There’s always an “etc” when kids are involved.) I am feeling in control. I have a few extra articles to write. More like a dozen, but I can do it. My daughter started camp so I will have more time and more laundry, but I digress. My husband doubled up his work schedule to make up for hospital visits while we’re gone, but that’s OK because we’ll have Saturday to pack. Someone calls and asks for a last minute piece of button art and I don’t know how to say “no” and there’s always 2 am and Saturday! So I add it to my list of things to do before vacation. Cat sitter, car service to the airport, hold the mail, make an “M” out of buttons and bling, make food for the 14-hour flight, etc. Finally, a big client asks the clown if he can come out for the annual clambake in the Hamptons.
I love this gig, normally. It pays well and we get a bonus day on the beach. But now it’s the day before we’re leaving and we’ve agreed to do a round-trip to the Hamptons on the Saturday of July 4th weekend – the day before a 5am wake up for a 14-hour flight. I mean, it’s fine. Flying is really just sitting. (Cramped, paranoid, fidgety, and it will probably smell and I will probably be nauseous and potentially need to have diarrhea in the airplane bathroom, which will be bumpy and at the exact moment they ask us to fasten our seatbelt because we’ve hit some turbulence. Eventually, I’ll have to reach for the Xanax as every other member of my family remains unfazed.
“Oh, and can you stop and visit your grandmother in Queens on the way out to the Hamptons?”
Of course, I can, because my eyes are on the prize. This is the opposite of calm before a storm, this is chaos before the calm. There will be writing and button creating and clowning and driving – lots of driving – but on Monday morning, I will open my eyes in paradise and try to forget the true cost of travel: chaos.