I finally scheduled a weeklong vacation last month.
Other than a couple of Fridays, it had been more than a year since I’d taken time off.
“Going somewhere special?” people would ask, when they learned I’d be out.
“Got any plans?”
“Going on a cruise?”
“Planning anything fun?”
People are always so eager to know your plans … as if your lifetime’s fulfillment hinges on five measly days away from the office.
“Yes, this is the week when I’m finally going to live. The other 360 days of the year, of course, are a colorless void filled with drudgery and toil, with only my suicidal fantasies to offer escape.
“But this week, man, I’m going to own my own life! Word!”
People always want to know if you’re going somewhere, don’t they? There’s always this pressure to travel to far-off locales … as if traversing the globe is the obvious pastime of every pasty-faced cubicle-dweller.
“Let’s see … I’ve been tasked with completing a jam-packed roster of fun before retreating back to the soul-sucking drain of everyday existence.” (Places fingertip to chin.) “To which exotic locale should I abscond to enjoy my abbreviated period of long-sought-after sovereignty?”
In my case, people seemed disappointed when I told them I was staying home.
“Oh,” they said, their faces falling. “Well … are you sure that’s what you want?”
“You’re not just going to sit in front of the TV, are you?”
“Don’t you want to do something adventurous, like see the world?”
See the world? Nah. I’m much too fond of First World plumbing. Besides, if I wanted to see a city with sewage spewing down the streets, I’d visit our nation’s capitol.
For most people, the concept of traveling includes African safaris and white, sandy beaches.
The reality, of course, is crowded, stuffy airports with enhanced security pat-downs.
Do I hear the sound of a snapping rubber glove? Yeah, no thanks. You can keep your globetrotting lifestyle and unwelcome cavity searches.
Besides, staying at home is far less stressful. There’s so much pressure to have fun on vacation. You have to develop a militaristic itinerary just to stay on task.
7 a.m.: Wake up.
8 a.m.: Tromp to the buffet breakfast for brittle bacon and lukewarm coffee.
8:45 a.m.: Report to the hotel beach for surfing lesson.
9 a.m.: Quit surfing lesson, because you’re nauseated from all that brittle bacon and lukewarm coffee sloshing in your stomach.
9:30 a.m.: Report to poolside bar. Proceed to drink an endless procession of piña coladas until you abruptly pass out.
6 p.m.: Wake up floating face-down in hotel pool. Collect spandex shorts from branch of nearest tree. (Pro tip: Don’t try to determine what happened to cause said shorts to end up in tree. Some mysteries are best left unsolved.)
Truth is, I haven’t gone anywhere since January 2009, when I went on a trip with my family to Cabo. And I didn’t even enjoy it, because I’d lost my job three weeks earlier in the 2008 recession.
The whole time there, all I could think about was the inevitable job search that awaited me upon my return.
No joke — we were watching a dancing performance in the hotel theater one night, and I started wondering if I should seek out a similar job back home.
“How does one undertake a career in the hotel-theater performing arts?” I wondered aloud (my thought process no doubt hindered from all those poolside piña coladas). “Can you apply on Craigslist? Are there physical requirements? Darn — I bet there are physical requirements. The guys in this show all have washboard abs, and I look like I’m in my third trimester. Especially after all those piña coladas.”
The best vacations for me are the ones where I stay at home. I read, write, putter around, maybe take a walk around the block. I even hiked in an actual forest during my week off — with trees and dirt and pine needles and stuff. (Pro tip: Don’t yank down your spandex shorts and squat in the poison ivy.)
For me, it’s all about decompressing and breaking away from the routine.
And just that one week off made all the difference. I came back to work refreshed, relaxed — and ready to dance like Jagger for all those inebriated hotel guests.
(Pro tip: Don’t squat in front of the audience — especially when wearing spandex shorts.)