I have to admit, I signed up for this blog hop before reading that the theme was supposed to be summer vacation. That took me aback for a second because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what to write about. As someone who is self-employed, I don’t get paid vacation. Summer is my busiest time of year, so I rarely take any time off then—I’m ecstatic if I get a long weekend. I have to plan those at least six months in advance, which is why at times I get a little frustrated when trying to coordinate my plans with anyone else.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just write about my summer vacations as a child. However, the only vacations I could remember growing up were our once-a-year ventures to the beach, in which my dad would load us all in the car at four a.m. and make the long trek to the shore (presumably because he hated traffic, but I suspect it was because we kids would all be asleep). There, we would stay crammed together in a damp hotel room that became progressively sandier with each passing day. I remember tiny little crabs that would scuttle sideways on the smoothly packed sand to avoid the incoming waves, and the hiss and bubble of the foam as the waves crested and subsided back into the sea. I remember the smell of the wet sand and the salt air, and the wheeling and crying of gulls overhead. And getting sunburnt. A lot. Apparently Sunblock 2000 hadn’t been invented back then.
So, um, yeah. Maybe not my childhood memories.
That’s when it occurred to me that I haven’t taken a ‘real’ vacation in a while now. My boyfriend and I have been talking about taking a trip back to his home country to visit his family, but something like that is hardly worth the cost unless you can go for several weeks. I just can’t do that.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t even plan anything ‘fun’ for more than 3 days at a time. That just isn’t enough. In seventy-two hours you can scarcely arrive, settle into your surroundings, and order a drink with a little umbrella in it before it’s time to go home. By halfway into the second day, you’re dreading the return home to the same old routine of life and work.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but wonder if we, as Americans, have been trained from youth not to take vacations. Maybe that Scots work ethic I inherited makes me think that I’m not allowed to have any time off for fun. Maybe because with the economy as bad as it is, I really can’t afford the time off in terms of lost wages as well as expenditures to go someplace purely for my own enjoyment.
That’s when I remembered that I didn’t use to long for a vacation to an exotic locale. When I was growing up, a trip to the library allowed me to go any place in the world I desired. I fell in love with Australia through a series of cheesy romances. I walked the narrow streets of cities in Greece on paper; lived and breathed the sights of Venice, London, and the South of France in much the same way. I vicariously excavated Egyptian tombs, explored damp castles, and sailed the Caribbean.
I’d come back after lunch and put in another five thousand words or so. In the evenings, we’d attend the big parties thrown by the convention, or sometimes we’d just wander the town holding hands. One evening the town was showing Some Like it Hot on a big screen outdoors; we stopped by partway through the film and watched it to the end. Normally I get wound up about not seeing a movie from beginning to end, especially if I’ve never seen it before. That night it didn’t matter.
The story I was working on at the time was full of angst; I tortured my heroes terribly! But I was never happier.
Which just goes to show, a vacation doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic to make you happy. You don’t even have to leave your home (though that probably helps). You just have to be with someone you love doing something you adore.
About the Author: Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, a bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. Writing has become a passion that takes precedence over everything; in fact, when she is in the middle of a chapter, she's been known to allow the smoke detector to tell her when dinner is ready.
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