Coping with the unshareable vacation


It’s a tree-falls-in-the-woods-type problem I have: If you’re on vacation but aren’t posting on Facebook, is it really a vacation?

By Andrew Pridgen

I’ve diagnosed myself with a new syndrome, it’s called: Vacation Association Perception Inferiority Disorder, or VAPID for short. I’m pretty sure millions of Americans suffer in silence and I’m hoping they make a pill for it and call it something like Vacavia. While it may cause anal fissures or death, Vacavia will give people like me the courage to share even their most modest vacations.

My insecurities are not entirely of my own doing. Here is a sampling of vacation locations that have appeared on my Facebook feed since the beginning of July: Amsterdam, Antigua, Banff, Barcelona, Belgium, Belarus, Christchurch, Cinque Terre, Dublin, Ethiopia (OK, it was a work trip, but still), London, Luxembourg, Morocco, Kauai, Maui (x4) and Munich.

Granted, there are some selfies taken at less exotic ports of call; your Orlandos and Santa Barbaras and Yosemites and Yellowstones—but for the most part the folks I’m one degree of online separation from are doing it with passports and Amex Blacks in hand—or so I’m assuming.

This is not to say my little vacation isn’t simply wonderful.

Less than three days in and I’m already having a lot of those vacation-type ideas:

  • I could live here
  • I really need to stand more
  • Even though I’m eating worse and drinking more, I feel like I’m totally losing weight
  • More than one set of tourists has stopped and asked me directions, so I must look like I’m a local
  • I could run a restaurant. This town’s totally starving for a higher-end, but small bistro—you know, just a simple menu and tablecloths with locally sourced ingredients (in this case that’d be crawfish and bark)
  • The housing market here isn’t as over-the-top-expensive as I thought…I’m only about $1.7 million short of where I need to be
  • Maybe I should ask to work remotely
  • When I’m here, I’m outdoors all the time so no more devices—except maybe my iPhone and Apple TV with Netflix and Hulu…but that’s it
  • Maybe I should be a butcher. This town could use a good butcher. Is there a butcher school nearby? Googling butcher school
  • …Or just be up here and manage people’s airbnb/home maintenance…there’s got to be a niche for that. It’s all about—I’m discovering—finding your niche
  • I need to just sit down and read more. From books. Preferably from old paperbacks. Preferably under a tree
  • Everyone’s your friend on vacation. Why can’t we all be friends year-round?

…The only problem is these epiphanies don’t seem quite so profound when I’m checking in at a burger joint that consists of a take-out window outside a slots-only casino.

The other problem is—well, even though it’s not exactly a stay-cation—we are crashing at the family house in a mountain town where I have lived before (and frankly, hope to live in again at some point). So, all these feelings I’m having, all these places I’m seeing, are not new to me. Though many of them are being seen for the first time.

You see, my son is just over a year old and yesterday was his first dip in the lake. His first sandy diaper. His first minnows nibbling at his toes. His first confrontation with another boy—one day his elder—at the pool as they fought over one another’s (toy) balls.

It was his first bite of tri-tip and black beans at my favorite burrito place and his first Steller’s jay landing on the deck eating the Triscuit crumbs from his snack. His first look at trees so tall he can’t tilt his head back far enough without losing his balance, so he sets down with an involuntary thud. And his first time staying up past 9 o’clock running around screaming for the sheer delight of it with his jammies on and an animal cracker in his hand.

We’re staying in the home my dad said they’d have to wheel him out of feet first. That was nearly the case two falls ago as he summoned every last reserve of strength the chemo didn’t take to get up here one more time. I remember his teardrops staining his favorite flannel as we were packing to go.

I still have a difficult time setting foot into his room.

Maybe next year, we’ll set a course for a locale exotic. Aruban sands or languid nights in some undiscovered Madrid alleyway where music and laughter echoes to the rooftops till dawn.

The world beckons. There are photos that need to be taken in front of ruins. There are wondrous notions that need to make their way from my brain to my fingertips to the social medias.

Those will happen, gladly. And posted…whether you real-life like it or not. Coming to you live. On your feed. For you all to see and feel obligated to like not because you wish you were there but because nobody deserves only six likes for 18 hours in the air, lost baggage and forgotten reservations.

But for now. I’m OK with my little vacation to the lake. The known. The routine. The old haunts. Enjoying something I love with the people I love most.

Isn’t that, after all, a little bit of what we’re attempting to share?


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