Summer vacation is always so exciting, whether it’s spent at the beach, the pool, or in the backyard. My summer certainly started off with a bang, though not the kind I would hope for. The fire threw a wrench in many of our summer plans. I swore we’d go to the beach at least 3 times, seeing as how we live a mere 35 minutes away. Didn’t happen. I said we’d go to the Jacksonville zoo, the park, the water park–all promises unfulfilled. I simply didn’t have the time or energy to take them. Now school starts in exactly one week and all I can do is feel guilty about what we didn’t do. Oh well, such is motherhoood.
Despite all the craziness of Summer 2011, I was determined that my trip home would not be cancelled. I needed that trip more than ever after all the drama. So I packed up ALL my clothes which, depressingly, fit into 1/2 of a medium-sized suitcase, the kids’ clothes, some toiletries, snacks, video games and chargers for home and the car, books, diapers and wipes, crayons, a cooler full of drinks, my hotel reservation confirmation, etc. and we took our trip.
I learned a lot on the road and at home. Some things, I can’t put into words. Not yet, anyway. As for the ones I can express, here are the top ten.
Ten Things I Learned On Summer Vacation
1. If you’re leaving on an extended vacation, a major repair will be required on the car or the house the day you’re supposed to leave.
In my case, it was both. I had to get new tires for the car. While this isn’t a major repair (new engine, transmission, etc.) it was still not cheap. Gone are the days when a tire cost a mere $50. Three tires=$600+ Ouch.
The problem with the house was the plumbing. The night before we were left, I was doing laundry and found the hallway flooded. The washwater was backing up into the toilets and the bathtub. I had to call RotoRooter to fix it. They quickly cleared the pipes of tree roots and then rotorootered me as well with the $300 bill. Double ouch.
2. Not all music is driving music.
One of the most exciting parts of this trip for me was being able to pick all the music. I spent a couple of hours making what I thought was the perfect playlist. I started up the music before I pulled out of the driveway and I was cruising along fine. Until about an hour down the road and Death Cab For Cutie’s album began to play. Now, I like Death Cab for Cutie, but it is NOT driving music. Ben Gibbard’s voice along with miles upon miles of tree-lined roads and yellow lines is a prescription for sleep that rivals Ambien. I luckily had some other stuff that was perfect driving music, regardless of what my kids had to say about it: The All-American Rejects (yeah, I actually like that), Adele, The Black Keys, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
3. Cruise Control and the Nintendo DS are two of the best inventions ever.
Speaking as a woman with chronic back pain, a tendency for foot and leg cramps, and an extremely low tolerance for whining and fighting kids, I can honestly say these two things are right up there with central air conditioning and indoor plumbing. That being said, fie on those stupid drivers who don’t understand what “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT” means. They totally screwed up my cruise control experience.
4. Never say anything in front of a two-year-old that you don’t want repeated.
You can read about that here.
5. Your family is weird, whether you realize it or not.
I never exactly thought we were normal (see here, and here), but I didn’t realize just how different we were until I saw it in stark relief against the families of my brother and my cousins or in the now childless house of my parents.
6. Everybody loves the zoo.
It was approximately 200°F the day we went to the zoo but the only one who complained was my 12-year-old. He complains that water is too wet, so I don’t pay any attention to him anyway.
7. The line between mature woman and high school girl is very small indeed.
One of the highlights of my trip was girls’ night with some friends from high school. We talked about motherhood, kids, jobs, and our lives in general. We also talked about people from high school. Specifically, we talked about people from high school as if we were still in high school. It wasn’t the mature thing to do, but we also talked about how dumb we were in high school, too. That totally makes it okay.
I haven’t had a night out with these girls for a looong time and it was a wonderful reunion. While we were sitting in the restaurant laughing and talking too loud, I felt several different things at once. I felt old, young, smart, stupid, sophisticated, childish, bold, self-conscious, happy, sad, and important. It was good for my soul. The margaritas didn’t hurt, either.
8. Madonna may not be an affected poser after all.
Living somewhere for an extended period of time almost guarantees a change in speech patterns. Like Madonna, I have acquired an accent. Unfortunately it isn’t an English one, it’s a southern one. I’m sure some of you are under the impression that Kentucky is a southern state (it is if you’re from anywhere in Kentucky except for Louisville, it isn’t if you’re from any other southern state–strictly Border State.) If you are under that impression, you may also be under the impression that all Southern accents are the same. They aren’t. Anyway, I was informed that I have acquired an odd way of saying “want.” I now say “wont.” At first, this disturbed me. I’ve prided myself on my minimal accent all my life. For example, I’ve never said the word “warsh” for “wash” as many Kentuckians are wont to do. (I did mean “wont’ and not “want” there, in case you were wondering.) Then I took the proper attitude about it and decided I didn’t care. Besides, everybody’s got an accent. Furthermore, a ridiculously cartoonish southern accent has done wonders for people like Paula Deen. A few more years down here and I might be able acquire enough of the local dialect and milk it to sell cakes or publish a book. The world really needs more eccentric southern writers, don’t you think?
9. I have an unhealthy relationship with food.
White Castle, Mark’s Feed Store, Christy’s, Rally’s, Steak and Shake, and Valley Dairy Freeze. I patronized all these places while I was in Kentucky. Some of them twice. I also drank Big Red. I relished every morsel and drop. I even brought it home with me (in the form of 50 lbs. that went straight to my giant gut. At least it had plenty of company with the other 300 lbs. I acquired in Georgia.)
10. I prefer hills and dirt to marshes and sand.
Living on the coast has its perks–beaches, warm winters, and coastal skies. However, driving through the hills made me forget all that. Up, down, and around we went–the kids squealing with every dip and curve. Me, reveling in the terrain and the greenness of it all. I took pictures of tree-lined, deeply sloping driveways. Of hills covered in green, regretting I’d miss the reds, oranges, and yellows of Fall. I took my shoes off to walk on my grandma’s lawn of soft grass, not a sand spur or fire ant bed in sight. I did a lot of porch sitting, enjoying the sounds of the bobwhite, which is my favorite bird. My favorite because it’s the only bird I recognize by its call and because my grandma used to whistle to them when we sat in her sideyard when I was little. The bobwhite call.
Of course there are trees, grass, and bobwhites in Georgia. But it’s not the same. Like Dorothy Gale from Kansas so wisely stated, “There’s no place like home.”