Saturday, June 16, 2012

Escaping the Every Dayishness of Life

Remember a week ago when I was all like, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!!! I CAN HANDLE ANYTHING THAT COMES MY WAY!!! WEEEE-HOOOO!!! Yeah, forget all that. It wore off. I’m back to wonky-wheeled off-kilterishness. Such are the ups and downs of a bona fide whackadoodle.
I realized my euphoria was gone this morning when half my Facebook timeline contained the word “vacation.” People are either planning one, or already on one, or just getting back from one. I don’t fit into any of those catagories because I don’t have the two things you need the most to pull of a successful vacation: free time and extra money. I work hard for the money (so hard for it, honey), which leaves little free time and yields barely enough money to get by. Ergo, "annual vacation" is not part of my lexicon at this point in my life. 

Since I was starting to feel all sorry for myself for being the only kid in class who doesn't have a vacation to talk about, I went over to Twitter, where I can usually count on something dark and irreverent to cheer me up. There, my close and personal friend (who has abolutely no idea I exist) Zak Bagans was leaving little breadcrumbs about his covert journey to a secret paradise that was in no way related to his Travel Channel job. His tweets leading up to the breadcrumbs were all "deadlines deadlines, busy busy, stress stress," which is certainly a line of thinking I can identify with. Then he suddenly shifted into "I'm outta here" mode. He started putting out little comments about how nice the weather was wherever it is he went and how weird it was not to be working for a couple of days.

Instead of passively taking in the tweets of some dude I've never even met  the overworked Ghost Adventures host and responding with an appropriately unattached "Oh how nice," I felt a decidedly inappropriate stab of jealousy. First of all, I went to Twitter to take a break from all the vacation talk I'd encountered on Facebook. And here Twitter was all like, "Neener-neener, you totally aren't taking a vacation this year - again. In your face, Sassyfats!
Thanks a lot, Twitter.
See, I know someone who is about seven years overdue for a proper vacation, and who does not see one on the horizon because of her whole middle-class-working-mother-ain’t-got-no-time-ain’t-got-no-money way of friggin' life. Her name is ME!!! ME! ME! ME!!!! (For those of you who need assistance appropriately gauging my tone, I am screaming the word “me” and stomping my foot for emphasis. Sorry about shaking the ground like that. My bad.) 

It’s not that I begrudge anybody for going on a vacation, be they a celebrity I'm stalking I follow on Twitter or someone I know in real life. Quite the contrary. Bon voyage, happy trails, have a great time, God bless, I look forward to seeing your pictures. But what really stuck in my craw (which sounds disgusting) with this particular series of tweets was that they way they were laid out like he was suddenly taking an impromptu break from his daily grind and escaping to something wonderful. So what's it to me?


My discontent has nothing to do with Zak Bagans himself - I enjoy his work but his actions have little impact on me, aside from the entertainment value his work brings to my downtime. But my discontent has everything to do with the fact that I am in dire need of a vacation and I have no chance, zip-zero-none, of embarking on some kind of grand escape journey.

See, back when I was in college, whenever I got overloaded with too much “thinky” stuff to do, I’d take little mental breaks by indulging in a daydream that looked a lot like Thelma & Louise, only without the crime spree and subsequent suicide. In my escape fantasy, I’d hop into an old convertible on a whim and then I’d drive across the desert until I didn’t feel like driving any more. I’d leave without any maps, travel plans, or phone. I’d just unplug from my every day life and go wherever the hell I wanted, for however the hell long I wanted, and enjoy every minute of it.

As the years went by and the landscape of my life changed, the desert scenery gave way to mountains. More specifically, the North Carolina mountains that hold the grotto behind a particular waterfall at a state park. I don't recall the name of the falls, the name of the park, or even how to get there. All I know is that sitting in that grotto on a hot summer day, feeling the cool mist of the waterfall on my skin, and watching the water bubble over the rocks as it cascades toward the river below makes me a serene, happy person. It's been almost 20 years since I've been there, and it's the only place I want to be when my stress level hits critical mass. As it has lately.

Um, Sassyfats? What about your family? You’d seriously leave them behind? And don't you have a job to report to?

Weren’t you paying attention? It’s a fantasy, people! In reality, I would hate being away from my family long enough to make such an escape. Two hours into my trip I’d be crying all like, “I miss my babies! I’m going home!” Not to mention the fact that if I were to make an impromptu escape without any warning or plan for coming back, my paying job would go bye-bye. Since I live here in the real world where my life is actually pretty good (don't let all the whining fool you), the total escape is best left a fantasy.

The good news is that writing all this out has brought my stress back down to a manageable level and made me feel a little less whackadoodle-ish. Sweating my frustrations out at the gym this evening helped a great deal, too. Writing and exercise are the escape routes that best fit into my real life. As for taking a vacation, Miracle Man and I usually manage to find ways to have fun with the kids within our time and budgetary constraints. We live two miles from the beach and a manageable drive away from the mountains (Yay, Maryland!), so it's not like our home life is all drudgery. We snatch vacationesque moments when we can. (Yay, Saturdays!) I might not make it to my waterfall any time soon, but luckily I have a decent enough imagination to get me to my happy place a few minutes at a time. That will just have to do for now.
Dry Falls, North Carolina 
Which may or may not be "my" waterfall, 
but it looks awfully darn close.

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