Every year when I'm in Colorado, I have to remind myself: It's like this because you're on vacation.
It wouldn't be like this every day if you lived here, I tell myself. You wouldn't spend hours sitting on the patio admiring the flower beds that the condo's groundskeeper plants and tends, and you wouldn't spend hours more hiking or biking or walking along the walking trails. You're doing that because you're on vacation. If you lived here, you'd do laundry and shop for groceries and plan meals and return emails and go to the dry cleaner (where is the dry cleaner in this town, anyway? I don't think I know. In 40 years of vacationing here, I've never taken anything to be dry-cleaned. That's because I don't wear anything when I'm here that requires dry-cleaning). You'd undergo dental procedures and host family events and volunteer to be a room parent in the kids' classrooms.
The fact that I do none of that in Colorado is, of course, what makes it vacation. Which is why it's so hard to leave once our two-week stay is up.
But this time, before leaving, I resolved to take a little bit of vacation home with me. Not just a sprig of fragrant sagebrush from the side of the jogging path, or a t-shirt with a witty message about life in the mountains, or the less welcome pile of credit card receipts from our various dinners out, since a big part of us being on vacation is me declaring a sabbatical from my usual daily meal-planning responsibilities.
This time, I'm taking vacation mindset home with me.
In part, this is due to the calendar dates. We often travel toward the end of the summer. By the time we get home most years, the date on the calendar dictates that it's time for me to start thinking about school supply lists and room parent responsibilites for the upcoming year. And in general, I like finishing our summer travels and knowing it's time to get back to real life with the looming approach of my favorite season, fall.
This year, circumstances were such that we vacationed at the beginning of the summer, less than a week after school ended for the kids. It felt wonderful to wrap up my graduation-planning responsibilities, wash out the kids' lunchboxes for the last time, and start packing.....but it also meant that we returned with the whole rest of the summer looming before us, and no more travel plans at all.
Which is what motivated me to be proactive about continuing to make it a vacation. I thought about all that I liked best about being in Colorado for the past two weeks. The family time. The abundant time outdoors. The fact that I was more lenient with my diet and never stepped on the scale. Getting to sleep beyond my usual weekday 5:10 a.m. alarm. Devoting much more time to reading than I normally do.
I can do that, I told myself. Those are all things I can take home with me, just as easily as sagebrush or t-shirts.
So now I'm home but determined to keep making summer a vacation. Yes, I'm back at work, with piles of deadlines looming, interviews to conduct, research to implement. But it's also mid-July. So I'm being lenient with my diet. And taking walks after dinner. And reading novels instead of the New York Times. And reverting to last summer's standard of cutting back to one blog entry a week instead of my usual two.
It was a great trip, but there are still nearly two months left before the kids go back to school, and I'm determined to make the most of it. We may be far from the Rockies, but we're in New England, with beaches to visit, ponds to swim in, and smaller mountains to climb. I'll work around my deadlines and refuse to lose sight of the fact that summer continues even if I have no more airline tickets to redeem.
And I'll even avoid wearing clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. Because if I've gone forty years without needing a dry cleaner in Aspen, I can surely go seven more weeks without one at home.