Two days ago I sat on a lounge chair gazing at the crystal clear blue water of the Bahamas. Wow, that is a blue you can stare at for a lifetime. I snorkeled, napped on the beach, had a cocktail or six, danced under the stars, and dined on amazing food while being waited on hand and foot. It was amazing! Today I returned home, excited to see my family.
It’s kinda funny that you don’t always notice how relaxed you feel until you start feeling un-relaxed. Um, yeah, a bit stressed. I just took my first cruise ever over the past weekend but after four nights away from my kids I was ready to get back to them and my husband. I arrived at the airport with more than two hours to kill which delighted me – more time to sit quietly doing only whatever I chose to do for myself – pee, get a coffee, eat a bagel without sharing it or putting it down to go fetch for someone else’s needs and desires. It was fantastic. And I knew that my vacation hours were fleeting.
My husband called as I was trying to grab my luggage off of the baggage carousel. That was when I felt my first twinge of stress. Since I still had a charged battery, I brushed it aside, continued my multitasking, and enjoyed hearing everyone’s voices again.
As I was driving on I-85 North my husband called again to ask if I’d like to join him and the girls for dinner. Since I was currently sitting in traffic with no idea of how much “go” was in this stop-and-go ride, the next wave of stress came over me. Excuse me, but I find it difficult to formulate a plan with unknown variables out of my control. But I powered through and estimated roughly an hour for my return trip and we figured out our restaurant choice.
Now that I had gotten gas and my Empty light was no longer on and I was past the thick of the traffic, it was smooth sailing. Ah, relaxing. I finally parked and put money in the meter and two minutes later I spied my family on the sidewalk. It felt good to hug those girls of mine! In the midst of two conversations about Halloween decorations and thoughts of dinner orders I nearly forgot to hug the hubs hello. Ok, I forgot and he said, “how about a hug for me?”
We sit down and let out an “old person relaxation sigh,” happy to be at our destination with drinks in hand at the only beer garden-ish restaurant in town. Which happens to have a bocce ball court. Converted (via plastic buckets and shovels) into a giant sandbox. It is fantastic. We come here because the kids dig and build while we sip on a beer and converse.
The food came fast, luring Sammy back to the table for some garlic knots. My husband had asked how the trip was and I was in the middle of filling him in. “The water was so blue you couldn’t-“
“Did you see the giant spider outside? And what about that thing we were going to tell Mommy? Daddy, did you tell her yet?”
“No, not yet.” my husband replies, “We can do that later.”
My train of thought took off without me, so I prodded for someone to fill me in on this spider and the other mystery.
“We went to Lowe’s and almost bought a ten foot tall skeleton eating a rat!” Sammy exclaimed.
“But I behaved badly and we had to leave,” chimed in Ellie from the sandbox while Sammy was still talking.
“Heeeey! You interrupted me!” whined Sammy, with big, gaping big-kid teeth clinched and eyes rolling.
The pizza came which hushed their bickering for a few minutes, the only interruption a quick grab to steady the glass of water as Ellie set it haphazardly on the table with a thunk.
Then a little girl came to the spot where Ellie was playing in the sand and I braced myself for a showdown over the shovel and sandcastle. Instead, Ellie said, “awe, she’s helping my castle.”
Shew! As we were quietly chatting and happily eating our food the little sandbox girl suddenly popped up and exclaimed, “did I hear seven? Are you seven?” she asks, looking at Sammy. Chris and I spin our brains wondering if we will have to take in this lurker and play Twenty Questions. To our relief she continues, “maybe you can play with me when you are done with dinner?” Another shew! I’m pretty grateful that my first post-vacation meal is succeeding – you know, actually swallowing food and all. Then little sandbox girl excitedly throws a big shovel-full of sand into the air, landing partly in the sandbox and partly on Ellie’s back, Ellie’s napkin, and the edge of our table. Yup, vacation was super fun. And it was suddenly crystal-clear that vacation was over. At least I can still close my eyes and picture that lounge chair facing the water and pretend I’m still there when life gets life-y.