After I posted my last blog about my identity crisis, I sat watching the snow blanket my world. I put on my boots and my parka, whistled for the dogs and went for a walk up my driveway. Snowflakes melted on my face. I stopped and twirled. “My next blog post should be about how falling snow makes you feel like a kid again,” I thought. But that will not be the topic of my post because a mere three hours (and two bourbons) later, my husband was online buying me a plane ticket to someplace warm. His mother and sister were already in Maui and had called him to invite me to join them. Sitting by the pool, drinking pina coladas, reading my blog, they decided that I too needed a vacation. I am not by nature a spontaneous person. I am a plan in advance, make lists, consider alternatives type person. I hesitated, my husband coaxed, and my in laws encouraged. I bought a ticket at 10 pm, caught a 6 am flight and was on the beach in time for the sunset (which was 10 pm EST). I was exhausted but on the beach.
I had no idea that I was missing the beach until I saw the blue water, the shifting sand and the palm trees. Paradise. Soon we were sitting at Hula Grill, sipping mai tais and listening to the ukulele player. For the first time in weeks, I had no housework, no shopping, no obligations. (I cancelled all my appointments for the week when I arrived in Dallas.) Well, I did do some clothes shopping because I did a rather poor job of packing. I brought only what I could get in my carry-on but realized on my arrival that I had clothes in my suitcase that I did not need—like button down shirts. Sis in law, who has great fashion sense, helped me pick out one more outfit and I was ready to enjoy the island.
Relaxation is not easy for me. Vacations can be as stressful as my home life. When my husband and I go on vacation, we rush from one activity to another. Winter vacations are always at ski resorts. Summer vacations are a blur of hiking, kayaking, and fishing. I seldom sit and watch the sunset—I have to photograph it. True confession: one of our biggest fights happened during a camping trip. The conflict was over who had to watch the dogs so the other one could do an activity. Four days of tension marred a beautiful Sierra lake. There is no such thing as down time in my household. So I packed a swimsuit suitable for snorkeling or kayaking and running clothes. But my mom in law and sis in law vacation differently.
Their motto: no rushing, no worries. We woke up. We sat on the balcony and looked at the beach. We had a leisurely breakfast on a patio and watched a black swan swim around a koi pond. We slowly walked down the beach, looking at the waves but also stopping at shops and kiosks along the way. We booked a whale watching trip at one. When we got to the end of the beach, my mom in law sat down to rest. I fidgeted. I had to stretch. I was ready to run, to swim, to do something. We walked slowly back and then went shopping in the hotel’s mall. That afternoon we sat by the pool, drank skinny pina coladas and ordered lunch. I read a book. I went for a short swim in pool. Mom in law and I walked on the beach. When we had enough sun, we went in to get ready for dinner.
This was our week. We sat by the pool or beach. We walked around the hotel and admired the exotic birds. We ate a leisurely lunch and went out for an elegant dinner. We shopped. I bought two pairs of earrings and some gifts. Mom in law found a painting of a beach that she loved. Sis in law was on a quest for the perfect pearl earrings. These were as elusive a unicorn. Next year perhaps. Our only excursions were the whale watching trip and a morning of snorkeling.
The whale watching trip was the highlight of our trip. On a small boat, about 50 people, we were able to stand by the railing while a guide pointed out whales, mostly mothers and babies, in the distance. I wished that I had brought my Nikon instead of my little Olympus point and click. But it wouldn’t have mattered when the whale surfaced within a few feet of the boat. I was in such awe (and people rushed forward) that I couldn’t get a shot at all. But the beauty of these mammals was breath-taking.
A vacation with hours of leisurely nothing was just what I needed. Between our sun time and my flight time, I read two back issues of the New Yorker, an historical novel, The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch, a fantasy novel, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Blueprints for Better Girls by Elissa Schappell, a mystery, XO by Jeff Deavers, forty percent of a fantasy novel that was too romantic for me, and a third of Jo Nesbo’s The Leopard. I people watched. I took photos. I took walks on the beach. I sat and did nothing. I hummed “Changes in Latitude.”
It was snowing when I got off the plane. The snow was pristine; the air crisp. I had left my jacket in my truck when my husband dropped me off but no one in my household could pick me up and I had to use a car service. I was freezing. Once more I was in a frozen world of white. I longed for the sun, humming “Some Beach.”
I’m home. And I’m happier, thanks to my mom in law and sis in law. Life is now in the slow lane. One day this week, I walked my favorite running trail. When I saw a large woodpecker in a tree along my driveway, I stopped the truck. I did not reach for my cell phone to take a photo. I just watched the bird peck the tree. Sometimes life should just be lived.