Anna June, Ben and I got back from a short beach vacation on Sunday, May 31. I love the beach. But I also have some strong opinions about what I want and don't want to do on vacation that makes it hard for others to love me when I am on vacation. Here are some examples.
1. I do not like to clean on vacation. This includes washing dishes and clothes. But the DIY vacation rentals on the Gulf Coast pretty much have you doing both. We stayed in my cousin Ginger's studio apartment behind her beach cottage. It was wonderful, and just the right size for us. But I didn't plan ahead to buy paper dishes and we ended up using some cups and plates. It didn't take long at all to wash the dishes, and if I had really wanted, I could have gone back out to Target or a different store to get some. Which brings me to my next problem...
2. I do not like to go shopping on vacation, unless it is for souvenirs. I tried instituting a NO TARGET rule while we were out of town. When we spent our "babymoon" at the cottage, we found ourselves in the Target maternity section so I could buy a swimsuit - I had no idea I was "showing" at the time and that my old suit wouldn't stretch that far. It was a necessity, but an annoying one.
3. I want to see and do everything. Of course, this conflicts with the point of vacation - to rest. We did not experience anything new on this trip.
4. Ancillary to #3 - I like eating at new places. But Ginger's cottage, which actually has a name - Paz Del Mar - is two doors down from Thomas Donuts. When we pulled up, we saw a banner saying they were now open for dinner instead of just breakfast and lunch. So we ate there five times in four days. I am not too sad about this, as it kept us out of traffic and other terrible establishments. We went to eat at a pizza place that Ben remembered as being good but I remembered as taking way too long. It took way too long and we had leftovers to deal with.
5. More powerful than my need to rest is my need to not feel guilty. If my relatives are in the area, well, I feel guilty if we don't go see them. We are blessed with family all up and down the Gulf Coast. In Panama City, for example, is my great aunt Helen and her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, Lindsay, who is about a year older than AJ. When they were all in Birmingham for Grandma Hazel's funeral, the two girls played together like best friends. So when I said we'd come visit them when we went to the beach, I meant it. We ended up going to Aunt Helen's for dinner and then having Lindsay come play at the beach on Saturday morning for a few hours. My guilt was absolved, and AJ had a lot of fun playing with another kid.
6. I burn. My skin is almost transparent, it is so pale. People refer to it as "porcelain." When I buy makeup, I just go for the lightest shade - the one at the Clinique counter used to be called "01- Pale." So it is inevitable that every year, despite my best sunscreen choices, I will burn. This year, Ben was napping and AJ was playing, so I didn't get either of them to put sunscreen on my back. After we had been in Florida less than 24 hours, my entire back became as red as a lobster, including fingerprint marks showing just where I could reach. It would be funny if it hadn't been so painful.
7. Going back to #4, I don't like to eat at chain restaurants, especially fast food ones. I really can't stand it when we visit places that we have in Birmingham. We eat fast food all the time - I want vacation to be different. I could see eating at a chain that's not in our neighborhood. But we ate at McDonald's TWICE on this trip for the sake of convenience. So very sad.
8. I can't sleep, and I can't sleep in, either. Ever. Anywhere. In a space with all three of us, I am bound to keep someone up or wake someone up with my bathroom-going, snoring, tossing or iPad use when all other lights are out. It's out of kindness, really, that at home we can spread out.
9. I'm blogging all of this. OK, Maybe not all of it, but I may just put that photo online so don't do anything stupid or look bad.
10. I will probably cry. I cry easily, but one look at my too-big-too-fast daughter playing in the water all by herself and I burst into tears. Where does the time go? Why does vacation have to be so short? My life isn't that bad, so why do I need to escape it so thoroughly? Can we retire soon so we can move to the lake or, even better, the beach? Or maybe retire to a lake and still vacation at the beach?
The weather was perfect most of the time we were there. The waves were huge the first two days but calmer the last two. The water was crystal clear - we saw the fish nibbling our toes.
Now that the sunburn has peeled, I am ready to go back. But of course, no one will want to come with me.
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