A more accurate title might be “what I remembered,” “what I realized,” or simply “what I thought about.” Being on vacation is quite a lot like going on a practice retreat, in particular the way it allows you to step out of your regular routines, your normal life, to simply be with yourself in a difference space, to look back and view where you usually live from a bit of a distance. If you allow it, if you take the time to notice, if you are willing to stay open, it has something to teach you.
I’m still officially off Facebook and Instagram. After having to try really hard at times to stay away (but sticking to my plan because I knew if I didn’t I’d be so disappointed), now that I “can,” now that my official fast is over, I find myself reluctant to go back. Eric asked me the first night at a motel on our drive back if I was back on or if I was going to wait until we got home. I told him not only was I going to wait, I was going to wait until the day after we got home. The next night however I was really tempted to go back. I gave myself some space instead and realized that if I got back in, I’d feel like I had to do something, share a picture or make a post, and I wasn’t ready for that yet.
This morning I’m trying to keep in mind that coming back from vacation, as on retreat, there’s a necessary period of reentry, that I need time to process and rest and unpack, to reintegrate into my every day life. Contemplating the awareness, the insight I’m bringing back with me feels like a good place to begin.
What I learned while I was on vacation:
1. The ocean is the supreme white noise machine. I miss it so much already. It is so soothing to my highly sensitive nervous system.
2. If you pay for a house with a view of the ocean, the foggy gray days when you can’t see it are a real bummer. And yet, the days it’s clear, you just want to sit by the window all day and stare at it. Added bonus if there are bald eagles hunting and bunnies munching the grass and a spot for the dog to nap.
3. Kids move a lot, but when they are hungry they eat and when they are tired they rest. My brother and his granddaughter Lia came to visit us at the beach and he said, “she does something for five minutes, and then she’s off to do something else.” After our second trip to the beach the second day, she came up to me, after flying her kite and playing in the sand and water, and very seriously said, “Let’s go back home. My legs are tired.” When we got back, got her cleaned up, and put her on the couch with a movie and her blanket, she was OUT. I could learn a lot from her, I think. Also, I do not regret not having kids of my own, as much as I love other people’s kids.
4. I love reading SO much. When we got to Oregon, my mom gave me a bag of books she’d saved for me. I read Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive; Ask Again, Yes; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory; Daughter of Moloka’i; and on my Kindle I read A Kind of Freedom and Norwegian Wood. They were all really good. And it’s funny how much more you can read if you aren’t on Facebook and Instagram.
5. It’s clear that I need to live near trees and water. Colorado and Oregon are very different, but I have both in both places and this time I realized how necessary they are to my sanity.
6. The only summers I get any kind of tan are when I’m in Oregon. In Colorado in the summer, you can’t stay out in the direct sun long enough to tan.
7. I love potatoes and bread in all forms: chips, baked, fried, smashed, toasted, etc.
8. Unpacking from vacation is the perfect time to downsize. Being gone, away from all your stuff, clarifies what you really need, what you really want and use, what you want to keep and what can go.
9. When something you thought was true turns out not to be, it can break you or set you free. I choose freedom.
10. There’s a real chance that Ringo is going to stay an only dog. I would have never thought I’d say that, that I’d be happy with “only one,” and yet, we have been through some really hard things with our dogs, things that feel like they need space. I am craving some ease and more joy in that aspect of my life, and Ringo was SO good by himself on this trip, it made us start thinking we might like to keep things that way — easy. I’m not sure how long we’ll feel this way, but I’m honoring it, allowing it for as long as it wants to stick around. There will be more dogs, for sure, just not for now.