“So how was your vacation?”
It is a question to which I really should have an answer. I usually start by saying “Good.” because on the whole that is true. When everything is averaged out it was a good trip. If I’m feeling more honest or whimsical I’ll say “Hard to summarize.” This is also true, because the trip had three distinct stages and each one could fill an entire conversation. Often I’ll follow up with a few highlights, things I think will interest the other person. Because I’m almost always in a small-talk sort of conversation and if I try to really unpack my trip experiences I’ll be like that person who sits down and makes everyone look at slides until they’re bored to tears. I don’t want to be that person, so I keep it short and bright.
Yes parts of my vacation were dark and difficult, but only because of the emotional baggage I packed along with me. Leaving my house, Howard, my responsibilities, for two weeks was deeply unsettling to parts of my psyche. As a result I had odd anxiety reactions on the drive, frequent difficulty sleeping, and restless dreams. Of the many benefits from this vacation I think the biggest is that I have just demonstrated to that piece of my brain that I can leave for an extended period of time and it will not result in disaster. Howard is fine. Comics got made. Kiki shipped the packages. Nothing else turned into a crisis. This is good. Had there been a crisis, I’m sure we would have managed it. Instead I had to manage that part of my brain which was certain that crisis must be imminent and kept randomly flooding me with jolts of adrenaline which I then had to calm down from.
The only reason I planned this extended trip was because of my parent’s fiftieth anniversary and giving them space to go on a trip was the best gift I could think of. I would never have scheduled things this way otherwise. Now the experience is giving back to me, because I can picture an extended trip not ending in disaster. I couldn’t before. Any thing of the sort was auto-filed in the “not possible” bin. And perhaps in years previous it truly wasn’t possible. The emotional work I’ve done to sort out my anxiety is reaping benefits. Add in Howard’s anti-depressants and the work we’ve done together to identify and recalibrate family patterns, and many things become possible which would have been miserable before.
Of course we have so many things scheduled for the rest of the year that this new knowledge will have to lay idle for a while. Next year is not quite so full. Yet.
My vacation was good. I learned things about myself. I got to see beauty. I put my toes in the ocean and wore out my legs with walking. I went wallowing in nostalgia. I spent time with my Grandma. I gave time to my parents so they could vacation. I reconnected with family and friends. I spent time with my kids. It was a good trip. I’m glad to be home.