Tonight at the dinner table we were dreaming aloud about vacation. Braydon and I were talking about various islands of the Caribbean that we’d like to explore. Owen was talking about “our family — Mommy, Papi, Kyle and Owen — going on a big airplane on vacation.” Kyle was talking about “on vacation we be going in the ocean, deep in the water with the fishes, big waves, salty in the eyes!” It was sweet family vacation day-dreaming together. It was fun. At one point I said to Braydon, Kyle, and Owen: “Hey guys, so, do you want luxury or adventure?” There was a pause. Braydon thought about it. Owen looked up with a blank face, then ate more lasagna. Kyle turned, looked me in the eyes, and said: “Luxury and adventure!” NOW THAT’S MY BOY!!!
This time of year Braydon and I always start dreaming of vacation. We have an annual tradition of vacationing in the spring — after the school year ends. We started this when we were both in graduate school and we had no money. We’d save and save and store up our loose change and plan and scheme for how we could do a vacation on the cheap. Then we’d hit the road for the 18-hour drive in a car with no air conditioning to Charleston, South Carolina. I remember it was a really big deal for us one year because my dad gave us his Mobil card and said he’d pay for our gas money. We stayed in a super cheap but very clean no-frills Hampton Inn hotel — we chose it partly because it was really inexpensive (since it was located relatively far from the beach) and partly because it served a “continental breakfast” (cereal and milk) as part of the room rate. We used to eat that breakfast in the lobby with the truck drivers every morning before we’d head off for the day. We’d pack our own food and eat on the beach for lunch. We used to bring $200 cash with us for the entire week. We had that and only that, and we made it stretch for all of our dinners and all of our spending money. We’d read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’d unwind from the year and plot our future. We talked about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months and all that we hoped for in whatever was to come in the next year. It was a little slice of heaven. And we’d come home refreshed and loaded with good memories.
We began to diverge from that Charleston vacation trip as soon as Braydon graduated with his doctorate. He got a “real job” that paid seriously good money… and that spring we took our annual vacation up a notch. We still went to Charleston, and we still drove the car with no air conditioning, but we stayed in a fancy resort. The place had nice rooms and a beautiful pool and it was right on the water. We got a taste of the good life and we liked it. Our first really incredibly divine vacation was the following year — to the Dominican Republic. Next we went to Riviera Maya in Mexico. Once we both had finished our doctorates, and were both making good money, our spring vacations just got better and better. We went back to Mexico a couple times, we travelled cross-country through France, we went with friends to a couples-only resort in Jamaica. In our late 20s/early 30s we travelled quite a bit throughout the year, but those spring trips remained our major milestone yearly event — a cornerstone of each passing year. We always did the same thing— we’d read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’d unwind from the year and plot our future. We talked about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months and all that we hoped for in whatever was to come in the next year. It was a little slice of heaven. And we’d come home refreshed and loaded with good memories.
Now that we have the boys we’ve kept our spring vacation a constant. Our first year, when the boys were just barely 12 months old, we went to Jamaica. And then last year, the week after they turned two, we went to the Turks & Caicos Islands. We are currently in the throws of major research to figure out where we’ll go this year. It’s different now. Instead of looking for resorts with spas or golf courses or scuba centers or cigar bars we’re looking for “child-friendly” with kitchenettes and washing machines and safe beaches and room service. All new needs now, but I still love the process of figuring it all out just as much. It is a fun decision to make. A luxurious and embarrassingly blessed position we find ourselves in. Ultimately, though, it really doesn’t matter where we are because this year we will do the same thing we always do, regardless of location: We’ll read books and nap in the sun and get really tan. We’ll unwind from the year and plot our future. We will talk about the high’s and the low’s of the past 12 months, and all that we hope for in whatever will come in the next year. If all goes well, it will be a little slice of heaven. And we’ll come home refreshed and loaded with good memories. All four of us.