Thursday, July 29, 2010
The Mournful Bleatings of a Former Middle Class Dreg
"Jesus, if I have to see one more person writing their vacation to do lists or bitching about how hard it is to come back from a vacation, I'm going to fucking cancel my Facebook account and never turn on the computer again. Shit. When was the last time we took a vacation? Not work, not visits to family, but a real vacation? 2006?"
"Was that the year we went to D.C. before we went to Indiana and Illinois to visit family?"
"Oh, lighten up, Lucy. Your whole life is a vacation. Just ask your dad. Now how about getting out and applying for that job at McDonands he keeps talking about."
Some days the thing that really makes this marriage work is the ability to put the other person swiftly and precisely into their place. When we are kind, it's done with humor. When we're ready to take out the long knives, not so much. The truth is, MathMan knows how to get at that deep, dark, ugly place inside me, make me look at it, poke it with a stick, and then bury it back where it belongs until next time. It's when we deny that that ugly nugget exists that we get into our horrible scrapes.
He neither indulges nor discourages me when I'm being petulant and whiny. He shoves, lures, cajoles me beyond it so that I can be less self-pitying and like myself just a bit. Sometimes to his peril. He's good for me. The bastard.
If ever I'm standing on the ledge, please get MathMan. He, to his credit and his everlasting regret, I suspect, knows what makes me tick. And he knows my preferred chocolate (cheap), wine (Malbec) and ice cream flavor (chocolate marshmallow).
So it's true. I've been a bit resentful of the social media exposure I've had to other people's fabulous lives and disposable income. It's made me chew the inside of my cheek and push back from the keyboard on more than one occasion when I want to lash out.
But then, I thought no. We're here because of the mistakes we've made, the bad decisions, the drama I have introduced into the fold. Suck it up, sister. Deal. And then I read Betsy Lerner's take on vacations and am reminded that I'm a lot like her. The idea of a vacation is one thing. The execution of that idea is something else entirely. No matter where I go, the compulsion to have things just so, the annoying sighs, the short fuse, they all get packed right along with my smelly sandals and that pretty shawl I never take out and wear because I've never worn a shawl in my life. They don't go well with the cargo shorts, do they? Even I know that.
So what if you can't actually take a vacation? That's what books are for! They transport you. Well, at least they used to. Why not stop feeling sorry for yourself and give it a whirl?
Turns out the still do transport. I picked up Ayelet Waldman's Red Hook Road at the library last week. I've never been to Maine, but I'd like to go there. Why not visit through this novel? If you can overlook the main premise of the story (death of newlyweds, a real downer), it's got those elements that do take me out of my own dreary housewifery and transports me to the salty air and sandy beaches of coastal Maine where I can sail and listen to the seagulls and eat fresh lobster while wearing a swimsuit without the slightest hint of self-consciousness.
Anyway, I'll be writing a review of it as soon as I'm finished reading it. It's time to cut the ties binding my to the computer and read.
Before I go, I thought I'd share with you another of life's tiny ironies. I decided to follow Ayelet Waldman on Twitter. She tweets almost daily. And, of course, this week, just when I decide to follow her, she and her husband Michael Chabon and their children are.......on vacation.
Do you take mental vacations? What are you reading to escape? When you close your eyes, where do you "vacation?" And go on - tell me about your favorite vacation, if you'd like. I can take it.