Day: April 10, 2014

Vacations End

Howard was anxious and stressed on the drive to our vacation spot. He was relaxed on the way home, as was I. We talked over the next six weeks, which are so full of things that juggling will be necessary to accomplish them all. This is normal. After those six weeks will be summer and the rhythms of our lives will be different.

We unpacked the car and then the suitcases, amassing a large pile of clothes which need red dust washed out of them. For each bag I sorted and put things back in the places they belong. If I don’t do this task on the day that we arrive home, then we end up stepping around half-unpacked bags for weeks. Many of the things I unpacked were never used during the trip. Settlers of Catan went back on the shelf, box unopened. Each vacation is different, affected by our changing family dynamics and by our moods. This time we barely watched any movies. Instead we spent time together out at the park swinging in hammocks and floating sticks down the little stream. Afterward the kids hovered over Howard’s shoulder as he narrated his strategy for a video game. They watched the game’s story unfold with every bit as much interest as they sometimes give to movies.

Some of the things I put away were used quite a lot. The binoculars were carried on all the hikes. The file of maps proved very useful. Most of the stack of books were read. The cameras took many pictures. Those pictures will soon be the only tangible evidence of our trip. All the rest is memory.

I did one thing more after all the bags were empty and put away. I carried our hammock and our hammock swings out into the back garden. I hung them in their usual places. The air was mild and a warm breeze blew. Spring is not so far advanced at our house as it is in Moab, but it is definitely here. The time has come for us to spend portions of our day outdoors. Tis the season for hammocks. I sat in one after it was hung and felt the same peaceful repose that came to me sitting next to the wisteria on vacation. I don’t have to leave that behind, I can bring it home.

Our vacation spot is a pocket paradise, so is our house and the garden that surrounds it. Yes I can hear the cars on state street. An apartment building overlooks the yard only partially blocked by the evergreen trees we’ve planted. Over the back wall is a landscaping company that sometimes leans tall poles against the wall. The list could go onward naming the flaws of this little plot of land, why it is not perfect. Or I could make the opposing list of all the ways in which it is lovely. Both are true and which I see on a given day is far more dependent on what I carry inside me. If I carry peace, then any place can be paradise. Going on vacation gives me enough space to remember that.

I swayed gently in the hammock and thought on all of these things while the sun warmed my face. Soon my wisteria will bloom and that will be lovely too. Tomorrow I need to unpack all my business thoughts. Accounting must be done and I’ve got a booth to prepare for the convention next week. Then next Monday I need to remember how school days go. One week until FanX. Two weeks until I can begin shipping Strength of Wild Horses. Three weeks until Kiki comes home. Beyond that there are more things. It is enough to get started.

The Mother at the Pool

The other mother at the pool reclines in her bathing suit. She reads a magazine, often looking up to engage with her children in the pool. Other times there have been more people, today it is just me and her with four children in the water. I sit in the shade, fully clothed. My laptop is open and I type. I don’t don’t know if she is judging me for the choices I display. It hardly matters. My imagination supplies judgement for her, giving her a critical voice. I am obviously a workaholic who can not leave her computer at home. Or I am the disengaged mother, more interested in updating facebook than spending time with my kids. She has no way to see that I am a writer. I’m stealing this time to craft stories, because all writing time is stolen from something else. Each moment I am aware of what I neglect.

Along with the guilt for not treasuring each splashing moment with my children is the litany of how I should write differently. If I write fiction, I’m aware of the blog post that did not happen. If I blog then some part of me mourns the fiction time. Then there is the incessant knowledge that I ought to write more letters to my Grandmother, my daughter at college, my parents, siblings, friends. My head is so noisy with self-judgements, it is a wonder that I can find words at all.

That tanned mother on her lounge chair with her magazine likely has no thoughts about me, other than to tell herself what I think of her. So young mother across the pool, enjoy your quiet hour, because motherhood does not often supply hours when the kids are happy and need nothing. They can entertain each other for a time, my kids and yours, while you read words and I create them.