Vacation (Or Why I’m So Bad at this Lately)

I’m just not even going to acknowledge the elephant in the (virtual) room. I’m sorry I’m bad at this lately. Time is a suck.

^*^

It has come to my attention over the last few years that there are essentially two ways to vacation. The first type of person points to a map–maybe randomly, maybe with slightly more intentionality–and selects a place, maybe somewhere he’s never been before, and then he books the trip, telling himself that the details of the days spent in this new place will be worked out later. In this case, the act of getting away is the point.

The second type of person has ideas in his head–like “I want to see the Eiffel Tower” or “I’d like to experience authentic Italian food” or maybe “I wonder just how hot it can get in Israel in the summer?”–and then sets out to get himself to that place. There’s an itinerary, there’s lots of preplanning, even if working in “down time” is part of that. In this person’s mind, the destination is the point.

I believe I’ve always known this about myself, but it’s become clear to me lately that I am cemented into the latter category. Furthermore, it’s also obvious that I married into the former category, and I mean that of almost the entirety of my wife’s family.

This isn’t a judgement thing. My preference is for the latter, and so of course, I also find it to be the best choice (“Why wouldn’t you have a plan to do specific things when you go somewhere?” I’d ask); this doesn’t mean that people don’t get plenty of good out of the dart board method.

The problem is that when these two methods of vacationing clash, it’s a very oil-and-water like scenario. I can say this with certainty because in the past few years, I’ve experienced it enough to feel as if I can refer to myself as a bit of an expert on the subject.

Most recently, my wife, daughter and I joined 12 members of my wife’s family (and a few longtime family friends) in Curacao for six days of vacation. If you’re thinking to yourself right now “Where is that,” don’t worry, you aren’t alone (it’s probably the most frequent question we got leading up to trip, so much so that I just started anticipating it when telling people where we were going). It’s basically here:

curacao-location-map-min

Yes, it requires two zooms to see it, seeing as the first level zoom only places it, but there’s no indication if its actual location or size. It’s small (roughly 171 square miles, less than the metro area of Charlotte), and decidedly melting pot in its cultural background. Part Caribbean island, part South American influences, partially still Dutch, it’s certainly one of the more interesting places I’ve ever seen in that regard. However, it also uses its main features–namely the beaches and other water-based attractions–as tourist draws, and justifiably so.

The problem being, at least for me, that I’ve never been a big fan of the water in any form, least of all the ocean water. So that put me in a bit of a troubling place as far as that was concerned. The second part of it was the fact that it was during the planning of the trip that I realized how much my in-laws and I differ on vacation philosophies.

Again, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just preferences colliding. We were offered to join on the trip, we said we would, and it was only later that I realized the trip wasn’t for any reason other than just to go and be around the family. That’s all fair, it just isn’t my preference.

So while everyone else spent much of the week going off on excursions and seeing as much of the island as they could, I did a lot of reading in the house we were renting. While everyone else went to the beach, I tried to see if I could finish all the books I’d brought with me from the library. Save for one trip, where my father-in-law, two brothers-in-law and myself went golfing, and non-water related trips to Willemstad, I stayed at the house, and was mostly okay with it.

The golf was cool, though. Check this out (and please, correct my footwork here if you can be helpful):

XSUYhtVzRmuBIRZVh2rdrg

This wasn’t my chosen method of vacationing, so I made the best of it by doing what I wanted to do while I was there, which was basically to enjoy the opportunity to do nothing for a few days. I didn’t concern myself with what was happening at home too much, mostly because I couldn’t. And that was fine.

In an ideal world, I’m starting to realize more and more, I’d be able to check off my list of places to see: Goodison Park during an Everton match; the rest of Liverpool; San Francisco as an adult, including Levi’s Stadium for a 49ers game; Rome because I didn’t make it there before and to see all the sites there; Seattle because I’ve been told that the city fits my personality; more Cubs games at Wrigley Field, but also in a few other stadiums throughout the country; Scotland to explore the place where my family came from all those years ago. And those are just the ones that immediately popped into my head. I’m sure I can think of more.

Needless to say, if I never return to the Caribbean again, I’ll survive. Nothing against the Caribbean or its islands, they just aren’t my ideal. And I think that’s got to be okay in the same way that other people might think, “A vacation full of doing stuff! Why would you want to do that?” and that’s good for them.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just looking to maximize the experiences for myself (I think our one-year anniversary trip to Chicago supports that fact). And maybe that’s selfish. But I suppose that’s how vacations work, isn’t it? Everyone is trying to get the most out of it for his/herself, and that works out nicely if everyone is pretty much on the same page.

I suppose, then, it’s up to me to figure out how to maximize the experiences, even if the situation isn’t necessarily the one I’d have chosen.

^*^

As for why I’m bad at this, it’s the same old list: summer classes, vacation, writing for Niner Noise, my podcast, and general lack of ideas. I just have to get over that. 

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