Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Summer Vacation

When I was a kid and the teacher asked everyone to go around the room and share what they did over their summer vacation, I’d groan, roll my eyes, and contemplate the relative pain of banging my head against the wall, measured against listening to 22 eight year olds describe in great detail the caterpillars they caught, and their super cool family trip to Albany.  Not that I had anything stellar to share myself.  My summers were spent with my awful (grownup wonderful) brothers in our far out in the country house and zero neighborhood friends.  We spent the better part of July and August tying sticks together, and watching Nickelodeon.  I don’t think anyone else in the room was riveted by my recount of the previous 8 weeks either.  A couple of decades have a tendency to change one’s perspective though and now I’d love a forcefully captivated audience with nothing better to do than listen as I relive the sweet sentiments of my summer.  And while I can’t tape your eyes open and brace your face toward this screen (though that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?), I’m guessing you all have lots of grown up things you wouldn’t mind putting off to make time to read all about the places I went and the things I did this summer.  So, here ya go:

Ireland:  Three years ago, I promised myself that at least once a year I would travel internationally.  I’ve stuck to that promise, almost exclusively by traveling somewhere for work, spending the vast majority of my time in meetings or praying for the hotel wifi to connect, and rarely seeing the light of day.  Still, I always make time for at least a few excursions, and Ireland was no exception.

Dublin is a cool city.  It feels more or less like the love child of Las Vegas, and Boston.  Or, given Dublin is the oldest of those cities, maybe they’re siblings. Boston is the overachiever, Vegas is the wild child, and Dublin is the kid people tend to forget to send high school graduation cards to. I also saw a teensy bit of the Irish country side, which is beautiful, and very green, unsurprisingly… but that’s really all I’ve got to say about that.

Camp Everyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing me complain that I never got to go to summer camp.  I remember my mother trying to dissuade my interest telling me the food wasn’t good there (#fatkid4life) but that only moderately quelled my interest and it’s something I’ve always regretted not doing.  This summer I finally got to go, as a counselor, and honestly, I think I had more fun as a grownup than any of the kids there.  We sang songs, ate s’mores and collectively reveled in the starry sky above.  There was no boss breathing down my neck, no deadlines to meet, and no need for makeup or traffic updates.  We didn’t have cell phone service or cable tv, and not only did we not care, we were, dare I say it in Silicon Valley, all the happier for their absence.  For seven days everyone looked each other in the eyes when they spoke, expressed their appreciation with hugs and hand-written words, and more or less functioned as generous, loving human beings.  Re-entering the 21st century was jarring, and would have been more painful were it not for the people I know and love in the “real world” who, whether at camp or not, are so readily willing to sing silly songs, and give spontaneous hugs.  

Crystal Lake: Thirty years ago my mom and her two best friends dragged their husbands and five snotty kids, (plus one on the way, me) to a campground in Garretsville, New York.  The place was called Crystal Lake but Murky Swamp would have been a more accurate nomenclature.  For many years we met there annually but after a while riding the same mile bike path got old, and the pig race at the county fair inexplicably lost its lustre.  So, in the late 90’s we changed our meeting spot to a sweet weekend home one of the moms snagged along with a second husband.  We like the house, and the husband too, so everyone still congregates there every few years.  In the good ole days we’d sneak, and then later on openly mooch free booze off our parents, but, as it does, the tide has turned.  Since social norms dictate a grown adult showing up empty handed and eating someone else out of house and home is considered “rude”, we now bring the booze.  Other than that absolutely nothing has changed.  We share secrets, inside jokes, and some of the best and sweetest memories from our childhood.  When it’s time to leave, the mothers cry, everyone hugs, and the yet to depart group gets left on the porch to talk, lovingly of course, behind the backs of whomever just honked farewell at the top of the drive.

Charleston: August in Charleston means you simultaneously swim in the humidity and bake in the heat, which is fine by me because it’s a permanent excuse for a bad hair day, and all that sweating is enough to convince you that the quarter mile walk to the bakery has more than earned you the calories in that biscuit the size of your head they serve for breakfast.  Folks are so nice you find it hard not to forgive their inability to admit defeat over a war fought two centuries ago, and the ocean is just warm enough to make you wish you could stay there forever.  Whilst visiting, I ate in some of the city’s finest restaurants, and ordered wine by the bottle, not the glass, basking in the glow of financial stability only savored by the childless late twenty-something.  It was, to be more succinct, my vision for adult Disneyland.  

The best part about summer vacations these days though, is knowing there’s no school year to dictate what comes next.  Life is full of fun stuff one can choose to compile into an obnoxious blog post, so look for the sequel: My Fall/Winter/Spring Vacation, posted whenever there’s a lull long enough to think of something clever to share.