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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Magic of Getting Away


From City-Data.com
Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
Written content only
Vacation!

In the glossary of the workday dictionary, there's no other word which conveys such a soul-satisfying combination of joy, peace, and freedom.  For 7 or 14 glorious days and nights, we revel in that magical realm of "Don't have to be anywheresville."  The burdens of the job are gleefully unshouldered and cast aside as we dance away the chains of servitude.

(Actually, if you're one of those people who use up vacation just so you can clean gutters and screens and paint walls, you can stop here.)

Vacations actually happen in stages.

In the planning stage, a destination is chosen and dates decided.  Reservations are made while the mind begins to manufacture a virtual reality play called "What It Will Be Like."

In the next stage, we unload our burdens, engaging in the somewhat delicate ballet of shifting jobs to co-workers.  Whether they want them or not, the jobs are taken on, mainly because they (and you) know full well that the reverse will happen when their time comes up.  At home, you arrange for the mail and the newspaper to be held, the dog to be boarded, and the request to the neighbors to "keep an eye on things" during the absence.

The third phase usually kicks in about Wednesday before leaving.  You know Friday is coming, but part of you feels a sort of dream-like unreality that this trip is actually going to happen.


Finally, Friday arrives, and you skip through the doors with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  You leave behind the stressful and the mundane (along with the company Blackberry.  Oops.).  You don't even mind the commute home because you know this is the last time for two glorious weeks.  Arriving home, the suitcase is whipped out of the closet (or basement or attic) and filled with clothes.  The suitbag stays home because...so is the suit.  After a final inventory, the suitcase is loaded into the car and you retire, even though you know the excitement you feel will keep you up for a time.

The next morning, you climb into the car and either (1) head for the highway or (2) drive to the airport.  Shuffling through the security checkpoint, you note other pressed and dressed people, obviously bound on a business trip.  Inside, you pity them.

The plane backs away from the gate, rumbles down the taxiway, and in a glorious rush of power, soars into the sky.  Looking down on the fast-receding Earth, you finally feel that wonderful sense of freedom.  They can't call you back.  You're finally on vacation.

Arriving at your destination, you collect the bags, grab the rental car, and head for your final stop.  Once there, maybe you'll explore the sights, or perhaps just stretch out at poolside, feeling the warm sun bake the tension from your being.

Vacations assume a life of their own.  Some days are full of frantic activity, others with selfish indolence.  When the first week ends, there is something of a realization that this marvelous time is already half over.  The next week gets filled up with all the stuff you wanted to do before going back.  Golf, hiking, concerts, velvet nights at some nameless Tiki bar while the strangely relaxing sound of surf hitting the beach adds a continuous soundtrack to the night.

All things must come to an end, and so it is with vacations.  As you pack your bags, part of you is reluctant to leave, but another part is looking forward to "getting home," and back into that familiar routine.

Getting home means unpacking, doing laundry, picking up the accumulated mail, and trying to get your head back into the business game.  Getting back to work, you become the center of envious attention as they admire your newly-acquired tan and hear your stories, a few of which may actually be true.

Life once again takes ahold and puts us back on the treadmill.  A week or so later, you realize the suitcase is still out.  Sighing, you pick it up.  But as you move it, you hear a sound inside.  Opening up, you find a piece of a memory; a handful of sand from a flawless white beach.  For a moment, you're back there, feeling the tropical air on your skin as the light of the full moon casts the world in soft silver.  You realize that vacations are not just about having a good time.

They're about creating memories.
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