With school starting today for many area schools, the most frequently question asked is "What did you do on your summer vacation?" I'm sure there will be at least a mention of a trip out of town in addition to other things. For me, five years post-college, what constitutes a summer vacation is more a matter of a few hours or a couple of days than anything else. I don't mean this is a pity party way; I'm just realizing some stuff with my life now versus my life before.
Over the weekend, I made a quick day trip down to Round Rock, a suburb that is 25 miles north of Austin. The reason was to see a writer friend of mine and interview him for the book. At one point in our talk, I realized, "This is my summer vacation." Five hours out of town, in addition to a weekend trip down to Houston for a birthday party in June, and this is it for a summer vacation. Then I started thinking about what summer vacation is for and whom it is best suited for.
Make no mistake: I've had plenty of days off this summer. However, the number of things I'd like to go out and do are challenged by tight budgets, the summer heat and being constantly on call with work. To save gas, I haven't gone out unless it was for a necessary matter. Be it work, a show, grocery shopping or a walk, I stay at home as much as possible. I did get a chance to hit up the Modern one day and that was great, but the thought of going to something like Six Flags is out of the question. Activities like these are just not fun when you want to be by yourself.
When I think of a textbook definition of a vacation, I think of a couple to a handful of days in a place that is not considered your home. You do all the touristy things in town, like visit monuments and take tours. For me, I'll do the touristy things, but not all of them.
When I visited Chicago last October, I wanted to go to Millennium Park a few times and I did. I passed by the Sears Tower a few times because Nick was working down the street from it. The most thrilling stuff for me was our show at Beat Kitchen, visiting the offices of Punk Planet and the AV Club. That's not typical touristy stuff, but I don't think I can be satisfied with just doing all touristy stuff.
Ever since I've been out of college, I've wanted to visit a coastal town like someplace in North Carolina. I'm talking lighthouses, rocky beaches and bed and breakfasts. However, when I think when would be a good time to visit, it just so happens to be during hurricane season. So I scratch that one off the list.
The biggest stumbling block is working within the confines of a tight budget. I don't have the cash nor the desire to go gambling in a place like Atlantic City, Las Vegas or even Shreveport/Bossier City. I don't really have a disposable income at this point and am not at all hot on being in debt. So, my days off are often spent in front of the computer editing, in my recliner reading a book or magazine and general sitting around with Juliet. This is what I want to do, but sometimes I think this is the only stuff I can do.
I will say this: back when I was in middle school and high school, time away from school was a must. Being in environments where there weren't tardy bells, threats of getting detention or outside marching band practices were nice. I always looked forward to this kind of time off and was amazed at the amount of time off I got in college. There was fall break, spring break, government holidays and a month-long holiday break. That stuff was really relaxing during that time, but I didn't realize how bad internal stress and anxiety were plaguing me then.
Week-long summer vacations are great for families, but what about those that don't have families or the kind of cash to throw around for one of those? There are no plans to go river-rafting, horseback riding or visit Disney World for me, so just like I normally do, I create my own sense of entertainment. But I won't lie: those aforementioned activities are fun, but feel like they are not in the cards with my current station in life.