This last week my daughters were out of school for Carnival; a full week home with Mom. Not wanting to squander this opportunity, we planned a little vacation to Disneyland in Paris. As it is only a four hour drive for us, we could not possibly pass on the chance to take the kids for their first Disney trip while they are still young enough to be excited. So we packed up the car, and took three days and two nights to go nuts at the park. There was much fun to be had, including the thrill my younger daughter had from having Snow White call her a princess, and getting Mickey and Minnie to sign her cast, and the joy of my older daughter meeting Alice and learning to enjoy her first ride (it only took three times on Pirates of the Caribbean for her to decide she wasn’t going to die on the small dips).
For me vacation is a time to recharge as completely as I ever do. I try to stick to a very firm policy of no work during family time, unless it is absolutely necessary. That means no writing, no drafting, no querying, no blogging, and only minimal homework, if it cannot be done early or is due before we will return. It usually means there is a mad dash to get things done before I leave, however I usually return ready to work again. For example, this last week I was rushing to get another edit done on my manuscript. I am currently sending out queries for this novel, however I have a hard time completely calling it done. As I send out my letters I try to be conscious of any improvements I can make; when sending out sample chapters, if they are not working I need to keep working on them. While I didn’t get completely through again, I am anxious to get back to work having had three days to clear my head. I have found these small trips, just a weekend where I intentionally do not think about my writing makes the story become clear again. Simply put I regain my focus.
As I return to reality, which unfortunately included almost 30 pages of writing to be done for school, here are five things about taking a vacation.
I hate packing. When leaving the house for any extended period of time, it is definitely a requirement, but I don’t have to like it. First I drag the suitcases up from the basement, then search my closet for the clothing that I am going to be locked into wearing for a period of time, no matter what happens. I have to hope these clothes fit the weather for wherever we are going, that they are comfortable enough to survive an active trip, and of course that I don’t forget anything important, such as contact fluid or underwear. Then, after a short period of time, you have to pack it all back up to come home. Packing when driving somewhere is marginally better, as you don’t have to worry as much about everything fitting into your suitcase, as long as it fits in the car.
Unpacking isn’t any better. Your vacation is over, and yet the clean up is still sitting there. Mocking you. It’s a horrible way to bookend your vacation.
Growing up, there were a lot of us. I have six brothers and one sister, so getting anywhere was not an easy proposition. Flying was not financially reasonable, so we drove everywhere. At the time, I didn’t mind it. Now, having flown occasionally for other trips, I don’t enjoy the drive as much as I used to. It’s nice to know you can pull over if people need to use the rest room, or just to stretch. Of course when flying the plane doesn’t need to stop for those things, you just keep moving. Whatever your choice of travel method, sometimes the journey is almost as much fun as the destination. When driving, my husband and I talk. A lot. Probably more than we do when we’re at home. It is easy to forget why we love each other sometimes, and then we get in the car and I fall in love all over again.
I plan vacation as if I am going into war. It’s not just the hotel, travel, and activity tickets. I know what I want to accomplish before I get there and usually have a plan of attack. When we went to Dublin, I knew I wanted to see the Trinity College Library, and the Jameson Distillery. Going to Inverness, I knew I wanted to find Nessie, hear some bagpipers, and admire how sexy a man looks in a kilt. For Disneyland, we needed to meet a princess, find Alice, buy me mugs, and ride as many of the rides as possible. Twice. Sometimes the plans are vague and leave a lot of wiggle room, which I like having so that I can add in the things I didn’t know I had to do. But I can’t let go of my plan completely. Having my plan makes sure I don’t leave and instantly regret something I didn’t do.
I always pack running clothes when I do on vacation, but I rarely use them. Most often, my running around involves walking everywhere we go. And I mean everywhere. I hate driving in the city, particularly a city I don’t know. So when we travel, we drive or fly into the city, park the car and do not return until we are going home. Some places we walk everywhere, as we did in Dublin. Other times, we combine walking with the metro, as we did in Paris and London. No matter where we are, or exactly how we are traveling, we move constantly. Everyday we return to our hotel room, tired and sore from the constant movement. And strangely enough, we all love it.
After the vacation, you are supposed to be relaxed and calm, having recovered whatever sense of normalcy you were missing. I’m not sure who does that, but it has never been me. I come back from vacation just as stressed as I was before I left as I attempt to return to life. There is laundry to wash, souvenirs to put away, a sad puppy who missed her family, homework to catch up on, and writing that needs to be done. The joke of needing a vacation to get over the last vacation is not entirely true; I need to vacation to recover from the return home.
Unfortunately, I am still recovering from my return home. I wanted to dive right back into my blogging, writing, cleaning, and homework schedule, however I am still a little behind. Hopefully, I can finish my recovery this week and not miss any more writing days.