Vacation. I Wish I’d Stayed (Not Really.)

It has been ten years since we took a vacation that is purely recreational. We’ve traveled, but it has always been tied to a conference or a work trip or so forth. That’s been fun and interesting, but not always restful or relaxing.

Now that I’m away
I wish I’d stayed

This year, we made a plan. We opted to take a driving trip through Northern Pennsylvania to explore unfamiliar parts of the state we both call home. We made a list of sites and experiences. We made another list of LGBTQ owned businesses and spaces along the way. The B&B’s are reserved (not Air BnB, but actual hotels) and a few sightseeing trips have been booked.

Our plan is to start in Erie so we can get some shore/water time even if its just walking along the beach. Then we are heading into Elk County to visit the elk. In a horse drawn wagon. Seriously. Other plans include a tour of lumber ghost towns, a trip to the Zippo Lighter Museum (my grandfather was a Zippo sales manager), Kinzua Dam, Pine Creek Gorge, and a dining car train trip along the PA/NY border on a former lumber rail line. We are winding up by heading to Altoona to stay in a hotel famous for providing a great view of the Horseshoe Curve train changes.

Then home. Short bouts of driving with lots of meandering and a carefully research array of Democratic or progressive owned venues.

I am genuinely looking forward to this trip, but I am also anxious as can be. Everything is covered – the house is clean, the pet/house sitter is booked and has her keys and instructions, the car is inspected and road ready, the reservations are made, the budget is holding steady, books and magazines packed, etc. We are taking the vacation we can afford and one that will give us lots of new experiences. We won’t be far from home if there’s a crisis. Our house/pet sitter will be here around the clock for most of the time and she’s terrific with our crew.

We do this to plan, but also to help me manage my apprehension. I’m not exactly anxious about a particular thing – it is just the general ‘get out of the house’ social anxiety that pervades my everyday life. Then the reality that I’ll be away from my house for a week, no matter how cute and Democratic the accommodations. And around the edges are fears about vacation-type bad things happening.

I see I was wrong
And I’m not so strong
I should’ve known all along
That time would tell

I plan to deal with this by making sure to take time every single day to just chill in the room and connect with my tools, even if that means watching General Hospital via HULU on my tablet. It isn’t the electronics that I need, it is the routine and familiarity.

I’ve got my mindfulness apps and my portable battery chargers to keep my phone in good shape. I’ve got a ton of questions and curiosity about Northern Pennsylvania. I’ll have daily photos from our pet sitter to assure me repeatedly that everyone is fine. And most importantly, I want this to work.

I want to have a nice vacation, not just wish the week away so I can get back to my routine. I want to be able to have experiences and embrace new things and connect with my environment. I want to stand in vast spaces, be it a dam or a gorge or a forest, and adjust my perspective on life even if I don’t do a lick of hiking. I want to remind myself that it can be okay stepping outside of my house and even when its not okay, its going to be okay. I can get from not okay to okay.

Taking a vacation that’s for fun is … different for me. I grew up going for years without a vacation to having a big luxurious one the years that the gambling paid off. I don’t believe in some mishmash “everyone takes an annual vacation but me” whiny stuff. Be glad for what you get. But I do believe that we all need downtime for ourselves and with our loved ones. We need to have fun, to explore, and to learn together.

I’m fortunate that Laura and I enjoy a lot of the same types of activities. We also both appreciate some alone time so there’s no drama around taking a nap or a walk or whatever. We are both excited about riding in a horse drawn wagon to view elk in their native habitat. And I’m sure we’ll both be stiff later, but have appreciated doing this. We click on vacation.

Vacation, all I ever wanted
Vacation, had to get away

But I will be glad to get home again. Until next time …

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