The plan was to go to Italy with my Bestie; a repeat of our 2014 trip, catching some of the cities we missed the first time around. But when her plans changed and we couldn’t go together, I deleted those vacation dates completely off my calendar. When I mentioned this to my therapist, she stared at me, drew in a slow breath as if taking a moment to weigh her words, but in the end opting for bluntness said to me, “Bitch are you crazy?” Okay, she didn’t say “Bitch” but it was clearly in the subtext. She said, “You’re burnt out. You need a vacation.”
Just as I’m recovering from being a workaholic, control freak, perfectionist, finally figuring out who I want to be as I grow forward, I was thrust into the new and unwanted role of caretaker for two elderly parents who are not at all aging gracefully and will not improve. I am now managing the legal, medical, and financial lives of three adults. It’s a job that gets harder every day and so do I.
The last 18 months have taken a significant toll on my health. No fewer than three doctors have attributed my medical problems to being caused or exacerbated by stress. I’ve been medicating and meditating.
Inspired by the adamant side eye from my therapist, I went onto the Living Social website and looked for trips that were available for the same dates that I had hastily cancelled. I narrowed it down to the Dominican Republic and Munich. I’ve loved Germany ever since passing through there on an Armed Forces Entertainment comedy tour. Weiner schnitzel, Riesling, the Autobahn, events that start on time … I love it all. But going to Munich meant a full itinerary of activities and tours that I would’ve felt delightfully compelled to do. The DR trip was to an all-inclusive resort. No formal plans; just liquor, food, and fun. They had me at all.
And so, here I am in the Dominican Republic; and my goal is modest: BE ON VACATION. I’m not multitasking, working and/or visiting family. I'm not making any decisions. I'm not taking care of anyone but me. I. Am. On. Vacation. This is new for me. I have travelled the globe extensively for work. I’ve seen a lot of airports, hotels, and highways; but rest and relaxation? Rarely. By my ownsome for pleasure? Never. (Technical Note: yes, I am writing this whilst posted up at the beach bar, but the air, sun, water, and spirits, have fueled my creativity; a very desirable and hoped for side effect.)
I plan to spend my days being mildly inebriated (and properly hydrated; the true meaning of two-fisted drinking). All-inclusive is a beautiful thing. I want to feel the sun on my skin, as much as the SPF 100 will allow. I want to stare at the ocean and let my mind wander; have an epiphany over a Mojito. Or just have the Mojito. As the Counting Crows crooned: “If you’ve never stared off into the distance then your life is a shame.”
My most ambitious task is to read a book. I am the queen of unabridged audiobooks. But sometimes I fear that I’m losing the habit and patience for holding-a-book, turning-the-page traditional reading. I feel the need to exercise this muscle before it gets too far out of shape and/or is outlawed by a 3AM executive tweet. I’m hopeful that a vacation is an excellent excuse to reacquaint myself with that pre “Fahrenheit 451” pleasure.
A chance stroll through a Barnes & Noble gifted me with Stephen King’s Joyland. I’ve read everything the man has ever written: short stories, novels, novellas... well, everything apparently except Joyland. And so here we are, Stephen and I, together on vacation. Thirty-six pages in and already quotable: “The thrill doesn’t last long, but while it does, it’s a fine thing.” A fine thing indeed. Quickly followed by page 54, “Love leaves scars.” Yes. Yes it does.
If anybody needs me, I’ll be at the beach, not reading my email.