If you say the words “family vacation” to Helena, she will immediately jump up and shout “YAY, I’M GOING TO GRANNY’S!” because Granny’s is the best vacation destination in the entire world, bar none. When we tell her that we are planning something a little more involved than the half hour drive to Granny’s, she’ll be totally disappointed but all you have to do is whisper the word “hotel” and she will completely forget about Granny and run upstairs to pack her “busy bag” for the car ride and then stand by the door, even if we’re not leaving for another month.
If you say the words “family vacation” to Zoe, she will immediately demand the names and locations of any and all stores in the vicinity of the hotel because the only reason one goes on a vacation in the first place is to shop. She’s been to New York City, Washington DC and Boston in the past year and while she’s a little fuzzy on the Empire State Building, the Lincoln Memorial and The Freedom Trail, she can tell you without hesitation that she found the best knock off purses one block east of that place called Radio City Something Or Other. We are so proud.
If you say the words “family vacation” to Nate, he will immediately whip out his lap top and I won’t see his face again for the next eighteen hours as he scours the Internet, methodically and painstakingly building an itinerary for our trip. This itinerary can run several pages in length and will leave me speechless, simply because I can’t find the words to convey ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND without sounding bitchy.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for his organizational skills and his desire that we have the opportunity to appreciate everything a vacation has to offer – he really cares that we have a good time. I mean, he could be at the other extreme and drive into the hotel parking garage, toss me the keys and tell me he’ll see me in a week back at the car, right? But Nate is at the other extreme, the one where every single second of our lives while on vacation will be planned, scheduled and accounted for. We will see every sight there is to see and a few that haven’t been discovered yet. We will have an assortment of maps in various sizes to get us from Sight A to Sight B, cross over to Sight E, then backtrack to Sight C and if we make good time, catch Sight D. Otherwise, we’ll see Sight D the next day provided no one has to take a pee between Sight F and G. We will be on the go from the second we lock our front door. There is no such thing as “down time” on Nate’s vacation unless it has been built into our itinerary in thirty second increments. To Nate, a destination isn’t so much a thing to enjoy as a thing to conquer.
If you say the words “family vacation” to me, I will immediately become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of prep work that must be done before any vacation can take place. Because I am a paranoid freak of nature who is governed by Murphy’s Law, I simply cannot leave on vacation unless my house is in pristine condition and our affairs are in order because if, God forbid, Nate and I died while on vacation and someone had to enter our house and gather our things and saw that our bed had not been made since 2006, I would die of embarrassment. How I would accomplish this after having died while on vacation, I do not know but I’m creative so I’m sure I’d find a way.
I take forever to pack because I must be prepared to dress for any occasion, no matter how remote the possibility …. ice storm, hurricane, drought, earthquake, avalanche, bumping into George Clooney and accompanying him to the Oscars, what have you. I must also be prepared for any and all emergencies like spontaneous onset menopause, being robbed at knife point, severe anaphylactic shock or being chased by a rabid iguana. And I am skeptical when Nate assures me that we are not going to the depths of the Borneo Jungle and that we can, at our leisure, stop and buy whatever it is we need. I’m pretty sure that what he really means is that I will have a four minute window of opportunity on Tuesday afternoon from 2:05 p.m. to 2:09 p.m., before the train arrives to take us to Sight K, to pick up emergency supplies like anti-depressants, mace, epi pens and a rabies kit. Should Zoe blow up like a blow fish at 2:10 p.m., or Helena foam at the mouth like Cujo at 2:12 p.m., or I wig out from hormonal combustion at 2:20 p.m., we will all be SOL.
This is why I pack a pharmacy. I want to be prepared. I don’t want to buy new stuff. I want my stuff. I like my stuff. Except shoes. I’m always open to buying new shoes. And socks. I like new socks.
No one else in this house cares about the condition of our house or our financial affairs when we’re on vacation and as such, they are completely clueless as to the prep work involved. As far as they are concerned, the Vacation Fairy swoops down through our ventilation system and takes care of everything for them. Aren’t they lucky?
The Vacation Fairy has a to-do list a mile long and if she’s really on top of things, she might even create a color-coded excel spread sheet to help her keep track of her duties. Or, she might just say the hell with it and wing it. There’s no middle ground with our Vacation Fairy. She’s hormonal too. I like her.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that drags out the suitcases and assigns one to each member of the family and then lines them up in the upstairs hallway. The suitcases, not the family members. Although, that might not be a bad idea. I’ll suggest it to her.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that does multiple loads of laundry every single day for one straight week to ensure that everyone has the greatest number of outfits from which to choose. Those outfits that are not chosen will be neatly put away in dressers and closets. The only articles of clothing remaining unwashed will be those taken from dirty bodies prior to showering on the morning we leave. The Vacation Fairy does not like scavenger hunts so those dirty articles better be tossed into one and only one laundry basket in the laundry room or she will be ticked off and a ticked off Vacation Fairy is not a pretty sight. She will then ensure that the other 87 laundry baskets will be neatly stacked in the corner of our closet. I love it when she does that. It does wonders for my OCD. I bet she’s got a little OCD going on too. Good for her.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that goes through each and every single article of clothing for Helena to ensure that she has enough suitable outfits for every day and night of vacation because if Helena was left to her own devices, she’d pack her suitcase with two swimsuits, seven pairs of flip flops, her Nintendo DS, a scarf, the picture she drew two years ago in kindergarten and as many Littlest Pet Shop figures as can be crammed inside. Helena does not think underwear is a necessity. Or pants.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that reviews the clothing choices of Zoe and never bitches, moans or complains about Zoe’s predisposition to wear three layers of tops, thereby increasing the size and weight of her suitcase exponentially. The Vacation Fairy would like to submit a letter of protest to whoever is in charge of the fashion industry at the moment, requesting that someone get off his or her ass and declare that layering is so yesterday. I’m going to help her.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that stays far far away from Nate during this time because she knows he will put off packing until fifteen minutes before we leave and this drives the Vacation Fairy berserk and then when she realizes that he is, once again, managing to pack a week’s worth of clothes into a laptop bag, she goes ballistic and yells “THAT IS JUST NOT NORMAL” and then leaves the room before her head explodes.
Oh wait. That’s me.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that plans all the meals for the week preceding a vacation and shops accordingly so that no food goes to waste or rots while we are gone. She’s very efficient that way and it’s a great comfort to me knowing that I won’t be knocked unconscious from a stench when I come back and open the refrigerator door. My family should appreciate the fact that no one has to vomit and ask “what died?” twenty-two times a week for two months following our return. Sometimes the efforts of the Vacation Fairy are highly under recognized. If they’re not careful, we’ll all be smelling moldy tuna fish for months on end because the Vacation Fairy got wise and went on strike. Woe to the scab who tries to cross that picket line.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that makes a list of all toiletries that are needed for the vacation because no one uses the same shampoo and no one uses the same shaving creme and someone is allergic to this and someone else is allergic to that and what if someone needs this and what if someone needs that and JUST SHOOT ME NOW. I mean her. The Vacation Fairy. Not me. I have nothing to do with it. But please don’t shoot her either because that would be mean. Anyway, the Vacation Fairy ensures that each item is purchased and packed in the appropriate suitcase. Inevitably she will pack tampons and pads in my suitcase because she knows that God has it in for me.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that ensures all of our bills are paid before we leave and that our check book is balanced and all of our bank statements are reconciled. I, for one, have a much better time on vacation when I do not have to worry about our car and house being repossessed. I can focus all my energy on keeping my short, squat legs moving fast enough to keep up with my tall, dark handsome 6’2″ Nate, without him having to stop and wait up for me every forty-five seconds which could put a permanent dent in our itinerary. I mean, if we can’t get from Sight A to Sight B in the allotted time, there’s no reason to even go. Am I right?
It’s the Vacation Fairy that cancels our paper and mail because she knows nothing screams HEY, YOU THERE! MR. SUSPICIOUS CHARACTER IN THE MOVING VAN! THERE’S NO ONE HOME! COME ON IN! IT’S YOUR LUCKY DAY! louder than fourteen newspapers and ten inches of mail falling out of your mailbox.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that arranges for a neighbor to watch our house while we are gone and provides them with a key if they need entry, together with detailed instructions about our alarm system so that they are not arrested and jailed over the weekend for breaking and entering. The Vacation Fairy is well aware that no one will want to be neighborly with us and invite us to any cookouts if we’ve caused them to have a criminal record.
It’s the Vacation Fairy that cleans the house from top to bottom, including the refrigerator, pantry and laundry room, because she knows how much we all like to come home to a clean house after spending ten hours in a car with Cheetos on the floor. She makes sure all the beds have clean sheets. Have I mentioned that I love the Vacation Fairy? And no, you can’t have her. Get your own.
It is the Vacation Fairy that updates the spiral bound, color-coded Estate Information Manifesto that includes all the important family and financial information in case Nate and I don’t come back from vacation, for whatever reason. And no, the Vacation Fairy isn’t morbid whatsoever and tries to approach life with a “glass is half full” attitude but knows all too well that shit happens and when it does, it tends to suck that glass bone dry so let’s give her a little appreciation, shall we? She’s just trying to make sure that the next of kin doesn’t have to split a vein trying to decipher whether this bill is paid and what this account is for and how can we prove they were really married and where should the children go and what are they going to live on and who should be invited to the funeral. She should be commended. In fact, feel free to send her an engraved plaque. I’m sure she’d appreciate it.
Don’t worry, Vacation Fairy – I got your back.