I woke up this morning and peered into the briny depths of my savings account and figured if I only ate once a day and that was McDonald’s, I could just about afford a three day weekend trip to Middle of Nowhere, California for a long photo shoot in the desert.
My vacation history of late is downright embarrassing and if I don’t get away soon I’m taking this entire godforsaken state with me, starting with the upper east coast assholes who moved here because they wanted a lower cost of living and access to better beaches.
When I say “of late,” I want you to realize that I am talking about the last fifteen years or so.
I had two glorious days in San Francisco in 2003, when our kids were finally old enough to leave with grandma and grandpa for the weekend.
I had two amazing days in DC in 2008, even though the trip was tainted by my husband getting laid off in the middle of the worst of the recession right before the trip (we had planned for a trip to New York to meet Alton Brown at an appearance and then head down to DC. We had already put down deposits for most of the trip and were able to sell off the Alton tickets and rearrange it so we didn’t lose too much, but it was actually losing money not to go ahead and go to at least DC).
I’ve had a couple of road trips to help out friends in need that weren’t vacations at all, but still fun in a “if we survive this trip, we’re going to have great stories to tell someday down the road if we ever decide that a Check Engine NOW light at 4am in Bumblefuck, South Carolina in the rain is ever funny.” I tagged along on a friend’s birthday trip 5 years ago to New Jersey, but it was her trip and was really about her nostalgia and I don’t begrudge her that because it was her trip and her parents paid for it as a present. I did get to see Central Park out the window of a blueberry Toyota Yaris going 40mph, though, and eat at a really great tapas place in Chelsea. But, yeah, it was a lot of sitting around in her friend’s houses while they caught up.
But 2008 was 7 years ago. And 2003 was 12 years ago. In that time we’ve been destroyed not once, but THREE times in natural disasters. We’ve been homeless thanks to that same recession and that same job layoff that left us devastated for nearly a year. I personally worked up to 4 jobs at a time to help make ends meet. Sometimes driving 128 miles a day to get to the only job around in the recession. Other times with the threat of a lawsuit over my head because I had signed a non-compete with one job and I was working the same type of job with its direct competition in the next town over.
Fast forward to last summer. My husband announced that he wanted to use his vacation before the next year started (for him, the new vacation time year starts in July). I had just gotten a new job and was actually transitioning out of my old job in professional sports (had to train my replacement and was still there a few nights a week). I had no vacation or time off.
He took a week and took the kids to the Carolinas. I stayed home and worked and cleaned and helped our very pregnant hedgie give birth to 8 hoglets.
I was devastated. I know it was the only time for him and the kids to have any travel that summer, but I missed so many firsts in their lives that I will never get to see and it kills me. They’re 15 and 13 now. I don’t have much time to see many more firsts before they move out.
They came back with photos and stories and inside jokes and I had spent the previous night cleaning hedgie afterbirth out of my hair (don’t ask. She was bleeding and kept trying to escape and it was 4 in the morning and she was more relaxed when I held her and it was supposed to be for a minute and I fell asleep and woke up sometime after Josh Hedge-homme, the beautiful cinnamon snowflake hedgie, had made her entrance into the world).
Plus, we had both worked hard to dig ourselves out of the seemingly never ending hole of natural disasters and unnatural ones. And I didn’t get to share in the success and finally rest on our laurels for a week.
So, for now, I’ll keep working and writing and saving and maybe sometime this year, hopefully sometime this year, I will be able to take a weekend, either by myself or with my husband or a friend, and just get away and do what I want in a place that isn’t here. Just take my trusty Pentax and my even trustier vintage lenses and get those desert shots that are just waiting for me.
I need it. I’m tired. I’m burnt out. My creativity needs it. My body needs it. My soul needs it. People aren’t meant to work and work and scrimp and save and not see at least some personal reward for it beyond the basic “yay, you get to eat and have lights and hot water.” There’s gotta be some promise of fun adventure.
On a side note, it’s the middle of January and we haven’t had a winter since 2010. It’s well above 80 degrees right now. The maple trees started blooming right after Christmas and my acerola bloomed right after. I will have Barbados Cherries in February, a full three months ahead of schedule. Seasonal depression in a tropical climate is definitely possible. I’m rapidly getting to the point where if I see another fucking palm tree I’m going scream. My daughter and I were walking down our street recently and decided to count the palm trees. We got halfway down and were at 500 and decided that was too depressing.
Trying to look on the bright side: free coconuts.
I need a vacation.
Piper Doone is the author of the highly rated gay erotic romance, Playing Hard To Forget. Available from Amazon and Dreamspinner Press and your favorite ebook retailer in paperback and ebook.