Permanent Vacation

            Manatee and calf
We had a great vacation, but like Emmie says, the packing and traveling parts are the worst.  And the unpacking.  And, I would have to add, the “vacation withdrawal”.  Oh, I’m glad to be back with my sweet dog and my comfortable bed, healthier food and not getting lost everywhere we drive…but when you’ve had a wonderful time being away, getting back to reality is tough.

I once got the brilliant idea, after we’d just returned from a family trip to Xcaret in Mexico, of trying to live life like we’re always on vacation, so the “come down” wouldn’t be such a bummer. I wondered, ‘Why do we do things so differently when we’re away from home?’ and remembered a book I once read, Living A Beautiful Life, by Alexandra Stoddard. It talked about doing little things every day to treat yourself special, you know, like not saving the good dishes just for guests.  So I got up early to try to see the sunrise from our front porch, just like on vacation…I read the newspaper outside on the backyard patio for a change.  I served dinner buffet style, just like at the resort where our family had stayed.  But old routines soon set in.  The house needed to be cleaned, and groceries needed to be bought, and where can I see a decent sunrise in the suburbs, anyway?

This time, I haven’t even tried to soften the blow. I just close my eyes while I’m waiting in the carpool line at school, and remember.  It’s hard to believe that almost exactly 3 days ago, I was underwater, face-to-face with a baby manatee, and swimming freely with several more manatees in Kings Bay, near Crystal River, Florida…

Maybe the best way for me to get through vacation withdrawal is to download all my photos and decide what I’m going to do with them. Print them and put them in frames? Make a scrapbook page? Post some to the blog? (I promise they’ll be better than the ones I posted from the road.)  Or maybe the best antidote is to start planning our next adventure—even if it’s probably a long way in the future.  At least I take comfort in knowing that there will be a next adventure, whether it’s an hour away or a day away…because as I’ve said before, traveling together is one of the best things that any family can do. 

True, no trip, especially with kids, is ever perfect.  We did have whiny, unruly passengers with us sometimes (including our wacked-out, mentally challenged GPS, Juanita) and the second hotel where we stayed left much to be desired (should have paid more attention to the negative commentors on  But the fact that we all bonded more, especially with Cleo (who knew that she had such a great sense of humor?) is worth every cold Danish pastry and uncomfortable airplane seat you can throw my way.  We left as two parents with two daughters and a foreign exchange student– we came back as one family.

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