It’s August already. If I’m going to figure out some kind of summer break, I’d better get cracking. In March we were getting our hearts set on Nova Scotia by ferry, but that’s not going to happen. US residents aren’t even allowed in Canada at the moment. After all the time spent “resting”–not working much because all my shows and most of my students were canceled–I didn’t feel that I’d earned a vacation, but whether I’ve earned it or not, I need one. Just not quite certain of the form.
I’m not the biggest fan of beaches or hiking, at least not for more than a couple of hours at a time. Spa activities like massages and facials make me tense. Anything I do is going to have to be local: I lack the guts and budget to hop on a plane (or even a train).
I didn’t have a lot of formal vacations as a kid. Every couple of years my father would shoehorn the five of us and our books, toys, and suitcases into the car and drive from our home in Virginia to Texas, where my grandparents lived. Once we got to Dallas, it was too hot and bright for any activity but staying inside the house with the AC blasting, playing endless hands of canasta while my grandmother talked nonstop. At night, once the temperatures had declined to the low 90s, we went out for walks with my grandfather, but he had a heart condition, so we didn’t generally go far or fast.
The thing I enjoyed most about these vacations was the process of getting there. On the interstate, back when the posted speed limits could be as high as 85 MPH, our car rattled and shook like a roller coaster. It was fun to look up from my history book at the scenery, once we were off the interstate. Best of all, every night we would stay in a motel. Mostly these were the motels where you parked the car right outside your room, although every once in a while we had a room on an actual inside hallway. Motels full of the most wonderful things: coin-operated vibrating beds! ice machines! heavily chlorinated swimming pools!
My husband Dave grew up in Massachusetts. His family took vacations every year, mostly to the same campgrounds in New Hampshire or Cape Cod, sometimes to his grandparents’ place in Maine. There they would spend a couple of weeks doing vacation-land things: canoeing, hiking, mini golf, drive-in theaters, swimming. He remembers those days fondly, but we didn’t have much success in recreating them with Sonny. We did stay for a week in Cape Cod one year. It rained almost nonstop, although we did go to a drive-in movie one night and spent lots of time shopping in Wellfleet and Provincetown.
As a family traveling to new places and exploring them, especially cities, has been our favorite vacation strategy, and we’ve taken at least one or two trips most years. Plus all the weekends where we’ve gone on little road trips where the guiding principle is “what’s around that corner”?
My favorite is traveling to a new city, which feelsto me like opening a score. At first glance it’s a jumble of notes–streets, statues, houses, parks, docks, people, landscape, stores, buses, restaurants, museums. To make sense of them I set up base camp in the hotel, then get outside onto those strange streets, walking them, building structures in my head, adding detail and context and direction. Learning that music refreshes and organizes my brain.
I think, then, that a road trip may soothe the jumble in my head. This will probably be a small one, getting 50 miles away from home and hunting for intriguing corners. I’ll also take a small break from my weekend blogging–so, Dear Readers, I’ll see you in September. I hope you all have the chance for restful/restorative vacations before fall descends.