I just finished up my two week summer vacation at my mother-in-law’s house near the beach. The rest of the family is there for another two weeks, so I’m at home alone. My wife says it still counts as a vacation since I don’t have parenting obligations.
The vacation started off well, with surfing, swimming with the kids, all around relaxing and fun. I finished the latest book in Jo Nesbo’s Detective Harry Hole series(my wife says it sounds like a porno but apparently it is pronounced “Hoola” in Norwegian), “The Phantom”, then moved on to “Consider Phlebas”, the first book in the Culture series by the late Iain M. Banks. Kind of jarring to jump from Norwegian crime/mystery to intergalactic adventures. We even had a slightly awkward but generally enjoyable outing to my father in laws house and nearby park. The conditions under which we went were that there would be no discussion of the ongoing pool safety issues or the subsequent e-mails. Things started going downhill halfway through the trip when I awoke with a pulled chest muscle, probably from surfing, and my daughter started coming down with some bug that lasted about 3 days.
It was a tough adjustment to the new limitations on time and activities. The morning surf is usually the boost required to keep me in good spirits for the day. Without that surfing, and combined with the near incessant complaining/whining from my daughter, it was tough. As I’ve mentioned in the past, when I don’t get to surf I start feeling trapped and low on energy. I had hoped to meet a friend for lunch about an hour from here for my fish taco fix, but was ultimately unable to. Also the planned surf outings with my wife’s cousin’s husband were cancelled due their son’s having coming down with some illness, probably the same one my daughter had. I still managed to have fun though. Among the many family activities we did, perhaps my favorite was a beach trip(despite being only 15 minutes away, we don’t tend to go very often when we are down there) where my oldest daughter and I rode a tandem down the boardwalk. It was an hour of riding, and it felt special for just us to be doing a shared activity. I can’t wait to do it again.
Since I didn’t dare surf, I made the most of the situation and fixed up the surfboard I keep at my mother-in-law’s. The board had some holes that I had long ago covered with duct tape(so trashy looking). The problem with holes is that water eventually gets in and causes the foam to degrade and the fiberglass to separate from the remaining foam. I probably should have taken care of the holes long ago but I rationalized the fact that I use it for about 2 weeks a year and that it would interfere with my limited surfing window as reasons not to worry about it. Fixing the board helped me feel productive even if I couldn’t surf. At least I was doing something related to surfing or preparing for it. On my last day there I went for a surf on the fixed up board. My pulled muscle quickly made itself felt, so I had to hold back a bit, but I still got two great waves before I called it a morning and headed home.
Being on vacation also made me think about my career options in the future. Still no idea what I will be doing, but I’m pretty sure a key requirement going forward will be to work at a place where I have a sense of community with my fellow workers. I stopped by a small local surf shop to get some materials to repair my board and was struck by the sense of camaraderie the employees seemed to have. I know they are high school kids, they don’t make much money and that there are probably annoying parts of the job, but they seemed to be having fun just being there. It was slow and not a lot was going on, but they still seemed to be having fun.
Some images or thoughts that I had during the break:
1)Surfing on an overcast morning. Dolphins were out, but what was really striking was the silver on silver of the waves against the overcast sky. It was hard to see the waves coming or at least accurately judge their size. Liquid silver everywhere.
2)Sitting in the hot tub with the kids and squirting water out of my hands. I imagined someone hired to sit in a fountain and squirt water with their hands instead of a pump doing it. Kind of an absurd riff off George Saunders’s short story “The Semplica Girl Diaries”.
It feels good to be home and it’s nice to have time to myself. However, I realize I prefer vacations with my family. That in itself is a thought to keep me warm at night in an empty house.