Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Odd Relationship with Vacations

Friday I’m leaving for Baja California for two weeks. The first week is an educational trip along the west coast; the second will be on our boat along the tip of Baja near La Paz. I love the desert and I’m sure it will be a wonderful trip.

I always say I’m excited about traveling, but part of me usually dreads it. It isn’t the packing and the wearisome job of making all the connections, or the fear that I’ll find I’ve forgotten something essential—passport? toothbrush? medicines? No, it’s the actual going away from home that I mind. Partly I mind the guilt I feel about leaving my two terriers, who seem traumatized if I go the grocery store. But that’s only a small part of the dread. What I really dread is missing the everyday wonders of my surroundings. I’ll miss the height of the wisteria bloom season or the short burst of tulips. I won’t be there for a particular weekend festival I like, or for someone’s wedding. I’ll miss my daily routines. Especially writing. Yes, I know I should be glad for a break. But…

In the first couple of days of a vacation I think to myself, “Okay, you only have twelve days to go. Only eleven more days. Only ten days.” But then at some point I begin to feel enchanted with my new “home.” I settle in to hearing a language that I don’t understand, start to feel an affinity with the landscape, start to adopt new rhythms. And by the time I have to leave, I get dread again—this time gathering myself to go home.

Some people would say I have trouble with transitions. But that isn’t really the case. I’m adaptable. Actually the problem is that I fall in love with wherever I am. Some people say they could never live in a big city, or a small town, or the country, or the mountains, or the seaside. I know that I could live almost anywhere. Once we lived in Italy for 1 ½ years, and by the time we left it was like I was leaving a place I had lived all my life. Another time we stayed for a month on a particular island in the Bahamas. I still mourn losing my stroll to the local coffee shop where there was always a jigsaw puzzle being worked on and where I easily fell into the enjoyment of listening to the daily gossip.

I sometimes get interview questions that say, “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” The answer is, “anywhere.” Give me a couple of days and I start putting down roots. So as much as I dread leaving Friday, I know that I’ll put down some fresh roots—even if it’s only for a week. And I won’t want to leave.

In the end, what vacation does is feed my imagination so that I go home to my writing refreshed. I have to remember that.


No comments: