We don’t change who we are when we go on vacation, though the pictures may say otherwise. Take these three little bears on a log. So cute! Such brotherly affection!
In reality, they can only be that close for the snap of one picture. My boys believe sand was put on this earth for them to fling in their brothers’ eyes and mouths, and Michigan has a lot of sand. Dunes and dunes of it – enough, even, to give my boys other ideas of what to do with it.
And so we happened upon a simple equation: Sand + Water = Vacation Fun
Which helped Matt and I achieve our main vacation goal: rest. How do you vacation? I think this should be a Top Three per-marital counseling question, along with budgeting and family planning. Matt and I have always been in complete sync on our vacation lazy, but this year we downshifted to a new level – as in we purchased our $9 Cherry Hut pie on the way in so the only thing we had to bother with in the mornings was slicing a piece of it to pair with coffee and a book.
More often than not, though, I just held the book. I brought five to read, but only worked through one small one. I also brought a large journal, but I never picked up a pen. Mostly I looked around, listened, and let my mind wander. At first, it stuck on Lu business, but after 48 hours of no email or author dashboards, I shook that off. Sometimes the logistics of what awaited us on our return – school for the boys, teaching for me – snuck in, but it’s not like I was going to Wal-Mart for the school supplies I’d intended to buy before I left. I was too busy traipsing over dunes and dipping my feet in the cold water of Lake Michigan while my boys did their best to run away with the tide.
The days went on. We worked out the kinks of five us sharing 1200 square feet of cabin. Life as usual felt far, far away and so my mind could wander without censor, like what the view over the next dune looked like. And then there was the afternoon I tubed down a river with Tommy curled up on me for a nap. He hasn’t napped with me in years. Was this his last? My mind filled with the wonder of it. One morning we woke up to rain, which could make for a vacation killer, but our cabin had a screened porch. I took my coffee and pie out there to think about nothing other than the sound of rain on the metal roof.
No, we don’t change who we are on vacation. Vacation brings who we are into sharp relief. It reminds us. Sometimes I worry I trade the present for the future, preventing me from really being here, but the blank slate of vacation showed me otherwise. I am engaged with the people and events happening right now, but in my normal present there’s a lot more underfoot to drop it all for a nap or to listen to the rain while I eat my breakfast pie.
Vacation also reminded me of something else, from a Bible study on Ruth I did two years ago. God’s plans don’t center around me; they include me.
I’m writing this on the eve of the week that school starts. I still haven’t bought school supplies or gone to the grocery for lunch grub for the boys’ lunches. There’s laundry to do. The boys need haircuts. I need to update the fall family calendar with all the meetings, clubs, practices, work schedules, and everything else that threatens to carry off this truth. So I’m staving off the present tide for another minute to anchor it on paper. It’s not about me; it includes me. I’m no prophet, but I think this is going to be an important distinction in the coming months.
And now I’m off: to buy tissue and pencils and a dozen other random things, but for one last thing. Michigan you are not my beloved Maine. And you are beautiful. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, and maybe I’ll even return in 2018 to see how far this little love triangle goes.