Friday, April 22, 2011

Vacation ethos

It’s so easy to fall into the vacation trap and say “Why can’t it always be like this?”

Well, because if it were always like this, it wouldn’t be vacation, of course.

But still. There are so many aspects of yesterday that I wish we could keep as part of our regular non-vacation life rather than just having it be part of what’s special about vacation week. The unhurried morning, which left me plenty of time to do a four-mile run around Sarah’s DC neighborhood, drink a cup of coffee with my brother-in-law, and eat breakfast while watching Tim and Holly play in the yard. The fact that Tim and Holly were having so much fun together: taking turns pushing each other on the swing, climbing into the treehouse, Tim giving Holly a piggy back across the lawn. And just getting to spend the day sightseeing with the two of them.

Without making a big deal about it, I talked to Tim about our subway routing ahead of time and then stood back once we were on our way to see if he could navigate the journey himself. It’s been a year since we were last on the Washington Metro system, but Tim knew where to catch the escalator into the station and used the map on the wall there to figure out which direction we needed to go in and how many stops it would be. Once we reached the Smithsonian area, he helped me read the street map to figure out which direction to head in.

Later in the day, we met up with their cousins Hannah and Andrew, who are not on vacation this week. While Hannah played soccer, Tim, Holly, Andrew and some school friends of Andrew’s played a sideline soccer game of their own and explored the playground. And this was after we arrived at the subway stop where Sarah planned to pick us up and both the kids said they’d rather start walking in the direction Sarah would be coming from rather than just sit and wait.

Why can’t it be like this at home? I catch myself wondering. Why can’t the kids have so much fun together? Why can’t I be so unhurried? Why can’t Tim so easily take responsibility for age-appropriate tasks? Why can’t they spend hours and hours walking or playing in the sunshine, seemingly indefatigable given such beautiful weather and interesting surroundings?

Well, because this is vacation. And vacation isn’t the same as regular day-to-day life. Regular day-to-day life is actually pretty good for us too, but right now we’re away from home and having a lot of fun, and so it makes sense that everything seems a little more fun, a little easier, a little more fulfilling than it normally does.

That’s what vacation is all about, and that’s why I always look forward to it so much. It’s different from regular life. It’s special. It’s vacation.

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