Who knew the simplest, most easy-going personality type (me) would be the most difficult person to actually go on vacation with? Doesn’t make sense? Let me dissect this for you.
Call me an 80s kid, but when I hear the word “vacation” only two things come to mind: That oh-so-catchy tune by the GoGo’s and images of Chevy Chase and the crew in the comedy classic “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The former, a pop favorite that reminds us that vacation fixes no amount of heartache and the latter warns that vacation with your family is actually not a vacation after all! Makes one wonder what’s the point of taking a vacation if all it really amounts to is just a temporary distraction from real life (followed by loads and loads of laundry when you return home.) Obviously, I’m not much fun on a vacation….
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful trips. I’ve been blessed enough to encounter beautiful and scenic places, cities that I’ve always wanted to see and explore, and I’ve visited several inspiring national treasures. I can easily recall periods of true rest and relaxation, opportunities to unwind and forget, as well as experiencing times of remarkable awareness of God and His perfect peace. This is my kind of vacation. Succinct, easy to get to, moderate temperatures, quiet and BUG FREE! Easy, right? Not really.
Over the summer I came across a cute, little quiz in one of those popular ladies’ magazines that promises to decipher one’s vacation personality profile (in 10 questions or less!) Turns out my ideal vacation experience would take place at a spa. This is hilarious became I’m something of a germ-a-phobe which means the idea of being pampered in a public resort, having gloppy and potentially non-hypoallergenic creams applied to my skin by STRANGERS, provided by an industry that is not held to strict enough standards (in my opinion)…makes me extremely nervous. Spa vacation is definitely a no-go.
Similarly, I didn’t think I qualified for the second vacation category the quiz outlined for me either: action-adventure! Those of you who know me understand that I’m a bit of a “mama hen” when it comes to risk taking…as in, I’m the girl who was ALWAYS the designated driver, I accompanied friends to the tattoo parlor in a feeble last-minute attempt to talk them out of getting inked up, and I always carry band aids and Neosporin 🙂 Risk taking like white water rafting and bungee jumping are out. Just about the riskiest, action adventure type thing I’ve ever done was ride the Timber Wolf roller coaster and shortly after I did that I heard on the news that…well, you can guess what happened. Coasters are out.
So what’s a girl to do? The magazine’s vacation personality profile was a bust. As I scanned the other profiles–exotic locale, nature lover, and big city night life–I realized that my own personal vacation preference was a little off the beaten path. I tend to gravitate toward non-touristy, quiet retreats with beautiful scenery and quick access to air conditioning/heat. I want to stay up late, sleep in, read books and magazines and basically operate without an agenda. It would be a bonus if I didn’t have to plan meals, get children up and moving and worry about insects, area crime statistics or crowded airports! It would appear that my (self-discovered) vacation personality profile boils down to one word–ALONE!
What a marvelous piece of awareness! All these years, after coordinating spring break getaways, extra long road trips, and family vacations I have finally discovered what I really want. Too bad this new-found knowledge didn’t occur to me before we took this year’s summer vacation…
The drive was longer than I expected…lake traffic. A lack of towns on this stretch of highway meant bathroom breaks were time sucks. The weather was rainy and muggy. I hate rain. We had no idea what to do when we got there or where to go. We kept running out of tick repellent. I hate fishing. I got drenched by lake water. I hate lake water. Preparing meals was a bigger chore than usual. We traveled with our kids. More rain. Did I mention that I hate rain?
Those are the cold hard facts, people. But isn’t it remarkable how our memories work. I read an article once that used science to prove that the “good ol’ days” were really a coping mechanism that our brain uses as a survival tool. You see we are hardwired to remember the good and sort of overlook the bad. Think of women and childbirth. You get the picture. Nostalgia is funny like that. So let me retell the story of our summer vacation the way I will always remember it…
We saw a part of the country we had never seen before. We had the opportunity to share stories and sing and laugh on the drive. We experienced nature first hand from the darling herd of deer on the side of the road to tiny rabbits and waterfowl all while staying at the sweetest little cabin. We unplugged from the world and spent the evenings playing board games and cards. Sean serenaded us with a marshmallow microphone and Casey befriended the worms we used as bait. We met good and kindhearted people everywhere we went and ran into friends as well. And although it rained and stormed, we were warm, safe and TOGETHER. Plus, the van smelled like beef jerky the entire vacation 🙂
I think it’s fair to say that at this point in my life a spa vacation isn’t going to happen. And as far as action-adventure, well… I think I would use that term to describe my regular everyday life. I’ve experienced the career of my dreams, completed my educational goals, driven half the country by myself (once) and back again (with a 15 month old in tow), met and interviewed celebrities, survived Las Vegas, lived through scary health issues, had 13 different addresses (8 communities and 3 states) in the last 20 years, driven a carload of clowns through the streets of San Francisco, attended numerous concerts and sporting events, and presently stay busy raising my kids (if that isn’t “action-adventure” then I don’t know what is!) A vacation alone, well that will just have to wait.
The dictionary defines vacation as a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee. A holiday. I would love to know exactly who gets to go on these awesome getaways! Pleasure, rest, relaxation and PAY! On the serious side, it makes me wonder if maybe a vacation is something more. Perhaps, there’s another definition? One that better fits my vacation personality profile? I guess I would have to define vacation as anywhere my loved ones are, where we can draw closer to one another, and recharge our spiritual batteries. I’m not sure where that ideal destination is, but I am positive it’s on a journey where there’s going to be plenty of beef jerky to smell up the van. And ideally the whole thing would still have to occur in a place without bugs.
Laughter is an instant vacation. Milton Berle