Oh, those horrible essays we had to write (neatly!). Who can possibly pack in everything about vacation into one of those. I spent two weeks at the same place with two different sets of people and one constant set. The first week I was with my family–father, stepmother and stepbrother. The second week with Mr. Geeky’s family–brother, sister, father, brother’s wife and 3 children under 3. My family–Mr. Geeky, Geeky Boy and Geeky Boy–were there the whole time. Vacationing with one’s extended family is difficult if you don’t see them very often. The first week was a bit easier in that regard than the second because we’d done this before and knew what to expect. The second week was more difficult for several reasons. We’d never spent more than a couple of days with these people and we all had different ideas of what makes a relaxing vacation. I had fun both weeks and didn’t let the inevitable family friction bother me too much, but I did feel a little bad that other family members (especially the second week) weren’t enjoying themselves.
Mr. Geeky’s family, being from a landlocked state, don’t get to the beach very often. I have been going to this particular spot for over 30 years. I know the beach and I have definite ideas of what’s fun to do when there’s nothing much to do. I personally like to sit in the surf in my chair and read, taking breaks to ride the surf with the kids or build a sandcastle with them. I like to go on long walks and pick up seashells and watch birds dive for fish. Sometimes I’ll go crabbing on the creeks or fish with my dad. I like to sleep in and sip coffee on the deck and watch the ocean slowly rise or slowly retreat. I like to eat dinner late, preferably fresh seafood and corn and peaches. It’s hard to do any of those things with three small children and I remember the years when we had to work around naps and feeding times and the kids were not enthralled with the sand. But we managed. And we kept coming back.
When the tide was low, we played many rounds of bocce ball, something almost everyone enjoyed both weeks. Later, I remembered that we had often played 4 square in years past, but we forgot this year. We rode rafts and boogie boards in the surf. Even Geeky Girl floated in the shallower water and let the waves carry her in. The first week, we made it out to a nice restaurant for dinner with good wine and good conversation and lots of laughing. We also went to the place on the corner, where everything is fried, but still tastes good. We returned to that place the next week. At first, the babies were restless, but as soon as the hushpuppies arrived, they settled in. We went for walks on the beach at night, played cards and board games and on the last night, set off fireworks, a big hit with the kids.
The second week, we all missed my mother in law. It was a kind of unspoken tension all week. Mr. Geeky said later, we should have toasted her at some point. But I think everyone was trying so hard to deal with their own grief and feelings that they couldn’t think that globally. Mr. Geeky’s mom really was a glue that held everyone together, that helped erase the tensions that naturally develop between people with very different personalities. Her absence was definitely felt.
The whole two weeks were a much needed break and time away from everything–even the news. I wish I had more time to sit and reflect and not be concerned with the day-to-day. We should all take time for that, not just in the summer.