It had been almost three years since my last week-long vacation, and I forgot how hard returning to the real world can be after a week with nothing to do but lounge on a towel in the sun, eat, and occasionally splash in the waves. It doesn’t help that Pittsburgh refuses to actually have spring this year. I went from a week of highs in the 80’s and constant sunshine to highs in the low 60’s and constant clouds.
The vacation life always leads to me to fantasize about a permanent vacation- winning the lottery, retiring early, selling a book for millions of dollars. And by permanent vacation, I don’t mean to suggest I’d never be productive again. I get bored easily, even when it comes to sitting on my own couch, and love to have projects. The dream would be to set the project agenda myself: work on a book, take brilliant photographs, write real letters to everyone I know, learn to cook Indian food, sleep and wake when my body wants to instead of when the alarm goes off.
I actually discovered that when well-rested my body likes to wake up around 9 am. And all these years I said I was a night owl. But instead, on vacation, I woke up at 9, fixed breakfast, watched the waves from the patio, and eventually dragged myself and a pile of books out to the beach to roast (in SPF30- red hair and all). Lunch was generally fruit dragged out in my beach bag. Then for dinner, I either feasted on Mexican (which you cannot get in Pittsburgh), grilled out, or one lazy night, called for pizza. By ten or so, I was sun-sated and ready to hit the hay.
Things I did not miss: typing all day in front of a screen, my Blackberry, my expensive cable tv, dashing for buses, or bundling up in anything heavier than a sweatshirt. I skipped out on the computer access almost all week (with the exception of double-checking flight plans, the aforementioned pizza order, and congratulating my cousin on her early-arriving newborn).
When I’m home, it’s amazing how much time I manage to kill (and I mean that literally) online. I was reading whole books in a day or two, seeing sunrises and sunsets, visiting the manatee sanctuary where I waded in ten feet away from a whole family of them, writing poems, and cooking my own meals (instead of relying on takeout). Don’t get me wrong- I know the computer is a necessary evil (and I find great reading material in many of your blogs). But the pointless clicking about for another article on “New Hair Ideas for Spring” or playing Word Challenge on Facebook or checking the top headlines on CNN for the 9 millionth time this hour is a major time suck.
If there’s one thing I got from vacation, besides 978 trillion new freckles, it’s the realization that I need to pick at least one day a week to unplug a little bit more. Or give myself a mom-style limit on browsing time. Because I’d much rather get caught up in an adventure than trapped deeper in the interwebs.