Spring Sunday: The Spring Break Unwind

Spring Sunday: The Spring Break Unwind

It takes a while for the mind to adjust to vacation. Consciously, we think we’re relaxing. We go through the motions of relaxing. We do yoga. Drink beer. Stretch out in the sun. Sleep in. Yet, for me, it isn’t until about day 4, that I actually begin to let go.

DSC_0162Some of the letting go is hard. I’m so accustomed to packing every minute of the day, hyper-scheduling a day so I that I have time to work, exercise, write, do graduate school work, spend time with my children, spend time with my husband, shop, cook, clean, pack lunches, and still find time to take a breath and grab a glass of wine so that I can actually unwind and sleep after moving that quickly all day. The days in Telluride are so packed that the events no longer feel distinguished or even fun; they are instead like the rungs of a ladder, steps I must climb each day before I set the ladder down and start again the next day.

When I go on vacation, at first, I relish in the ease of my days. My phone is off. I’ve have gone for a run, read a book, and played in the pool with my kids and it’s only 11 o’clock in the morning? My heart beats with the possibility of such time. It’s a joy to do these things and not rush. The rungs of the day become plateaus from which to gaze and reflect rather than steps to an end.

Yet, unconsciously, I’m also uneasy with this new expansion of time. I dream we discover a secret Irish inn. I’m just about to take that first sip of Guinness when I realize that I need to find internet access because I have a 10-page paper due the following day that I haven’t started. I awake and my heart’s racing: I’ve forgotten something or someone, somewhere. I hear the wind flapping the branches of the Hawaiian palm trees together outside and I imagine my heart doing the same—slapping the blood against the sides of my heart, trying to find peace in this new state, in this place halfway across the Pacific Ocean, a place that depending on how you see it is either halfway to somewhere or halfway to nowhere, an intermission or a destination.

DSC_0183I have come to Big Island of Hawaii, as I have for the past 6 years with my family, because it is both: an intermission and a destination. Ostensibly, we come because it is a place where everyone has fun; my kids love the beach and my husband and I get to feel like we’re still traveling. It is an intermission in our otherwise busy lives, a place where we get to reconnect as a family.

Yet, increasingly, Hawaii has also become a destination, a place that demarcates one year in my life from another. This is a place where I’ve started running again after 2 separate injuries and once after having a baby. Last year, it was Hawaii where I started writing the novel I’m working on. Trips to Hawaii have become the large rungs of the ladder from which I view the rest of my life. A place where I not only recharge; I change. Indeed, for the first weeks after I return from Hawaii, Telluride feels different. How have I never noticed that sign on Main Street? Or the way the light hits that spot at the top of my stairs? It’s like I’ve been in a foreign country for a year. My eyes ache from all the noticing. Yet nothing’s changed; it’s only me.

This is all because of what happens after day 4. After I’ve artificially relaxed and then tossed in my sleep. After I’ve flicked on my phone and stared at its blue glow lighting up the room like a flashlight peeking out of covers, and discovered there’s actually nothing I’ve forgotten. I’m exactly where I need to be. It’s day 5 and I’m on a 2 week vacation with my family. There’s nowhere I need to be but here.

The next night, I awake with the wind again. But this time, I go with the wind. I dream I’m on a sailboat that’s pushing out to sea. I have no idea where I’m heading, or where I’ll be when I return to this enchanted island next year. I lean back and let the sails fly.

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