We took a vacation this summer. This is not news to anyone in my life – anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures. We took our travel trailer out to Arizona – via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe – and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon. We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams. We hiked. Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out). After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones. In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one – maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For Family. Steve and I are good at making our own fun – we’ll go together to an out of town gig and enjoy a new location IN THE SPACES BETWEEN showing up for rehearsals and concerts. We’ll love it. We’ll go to visit my mom, or his – and sneak out for hikes or winery tours between eating official family meals and sleeping in guest rooms. We’ll move Steve (for example) out to Oregon for a year and explore EVERY ROADSIDE ATTRACTION the whole way across the country and have great adventures.
But none of those experiences were the same as this. In an RV you always have your own space and your own schedule. You can wake up in the morning and have your completely normal morning routine – drip coffee, outdoor yoga, journal, eggs – and know where everything is and not have to dig around in someone else’s kitchen or go out to explore a strange city in search of a drinkable dark roast. You can rest AT HOME in the afternoon without having to make conversation with a well-meaning relative or make excuses for your vacation nap or hide your beer, or lurk in a library because you checked out of your hotel but still have hours to kill before work.
And, in my case, you can bring along all of the tools, machines, and mailers that constitute your reed business, and continue to make and send shipments while traveling. The volume of my business is reduced in the summer, but there’s always SOMEONE who wants something, and this year I was able to accommodate those orders instead of putting them off. I was able to bring money in as we drove. I was able to stay in business.
And in this way, with all of these happy comforts of home, we took four weeks of vacation this year! We did not grow to hate each other, or any other perfectly nice member of our extended family. We did get to visit with friends and family, and we did get to explore, and shop and hike, and eat out in restaurants – but we got to do it on our own terms. It felt like a real break and an amazing one.
This all feels so new to me. I feel as though I’m growing into a new phase of my life, fast, and feeling a little weirdly guilty about it. Like, who am I to just TAKE a trip I’ve wanted to take, to just GO to a place I hadn’t been, for no reason other than wanting to?
I’ve been trying to say this – trying to figure out a way to say this – for some time now. I didn’t used to believe I could make choices like this. I just assumed it would always look the same, that I would always be scrambling for gigs, waiting for the phone to ring, unable to leave home without an express invitation to do so. Growing up, my family didn’t do trips that DIDN’T involve sleeping on a relative’s couch, that DIDN’T involve going to the same cabin on the same lake that we always had.
I’ve seen other grownups taking grownup vacations and didn’t fully realize until now that I am also a grownup, that I could also make a choice about where and how and when I live, I work, I vacation. There’s a freedom that I see in my life now, a sense of possibility that is NEW. I can do what I want. I love it. This is me, moving forward.