Remember going back to school as a child and being asked to write, "What I Did on My Summer Vacation?" As a child who loved to write more than talk, I always looked forward to that particular assignment and the opportunity to express myself on paper.
I don't recall much of what I wrote, but I'm confident some of it was filled with details of family vacations—times like when my two siblings and I would pile into the rear of our Plymouth station wagon (so early in the morning that our eyes had not yet fully adjusted to the light) and devour our lunch sandwiches (bologna on white bread smeared with butter … really. Really??) before we even reached the next town.
By the time we arrived at our destination hours later, our stomachs were growling—and so were our parents, because of all the bickering that went on among my brother, sister and me.
Our car trips were to the usual spots popular among young families: one summer it was Washington, DC; another it would be Mystic, Conn., or Salem, Mass. There are undoubtedly many more that escape my memory (there I go again with that memory thing), but I'm sure you have your own list of places and memories.
It's funny how I remember what it felt like to leave for vacations as a child but never remember what it felt like to return home.
I've been thinking a lot about vacations lately because I just returned from one. And in this so-called midlife, life gets a bit more complicated. Bologna sandwiches don't hold the appeal they once did (thank goodness for that), and summer vacations, though wonderful, come with challenges, especially when you head home.
Why is it that the rich memories of vacation—days upon days of meandering through time and feeling like you don't have to do anything you don't want to do and can do just about anything you feel like doing—so quickly evaporate once the plane touches down or even before?
I was determined not to let a four-hour weather delay dare touch my vacation-zen, but face it: It's tough to ignore the hassle that comes with gate changes. And how hard is it not to absorb at least some of the negative energy that surrounded me?
Grumpy passengers, loud static announcements, confusion and impatience reigned throughout the international terminal at San Francisco's airport, where dining options were less-than-stellar.
I'll spare you the details of the rest, which include making the mistake of taking advantage of Internet 35,000 feet up in the air to check my emails and getting home really, really late and discovering a freezer that quit sometime between when I left and when I returned. (Twelve days is a long time for chicken, fish and ice cream to defrost and sit there.) Insert gagging noise.
I'm grateful I could get away. I'm still remembering the bliss of being on vacation. That isn't totally escaping my memory.
But if you have suggestions for easing reentry and preserving some of those vacation-is-bliss-feelings, please feel free to share them below.
As for the freezer, I took advantage of the opportunity to clean it out and get rid of the things that had been sitting there since my last vacation.
And that huge pile of mail that still taunts me? I'll get to it before my next vacation, I'm sure.
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.