Vacation and Other Miseries


I’m posting from Portland, Oregon, where we are with friends on our annual trek to the Rose City to enjoy food and wine, a weekend ‘bacchanal’! Tomorrow, Sunday, is the International Pinot Noir Celebration’s ‘Passport to Pinot’ in McMinnville, where we’ll enjoy tasting over 130 pinot noirs from around the world. Today we wandered a farmers’ market in the Hollywood area of town. David bought ingredients for and made his traditional “Saturday in Portland” lunch: sautéed greens with bacon, mushrooms, hazelnuts, and cherries. Yum.

It has been a wide week with a lot going on in a small space, much of it right between my ears.

I spent last weekend with my women’s group at the Russian River. Most of us arrived with our baggage and noise around all the ways we weren’t yet who we wanted to be (like thin enough to feel comfortable in a bathing suit). We were quickly called to notice our noise, with the help of our Zen member, Juliet, and to remember that life is about joy. We can leave our suffering behind. It was like flipping a switch! Suddenly I felt peaceful, expansive and full of hope, the quiet kind that doesn’t require dogged forward motion to prove its presence.

We paddle-boarded at the River on Sunday, reveling in the sound of children screeching and laughing as they do near or in water. On Monday morning, the river was more peaceful and three of us took a Stand-up paddle (SUP) board yoga class. Our instructor guided us through a yoga routine on our boards on the water, often suggesting before we moved into a pose, “remembering where you are…” Of the seven students, I was the only one to fall in, with gusto, as I tried to move from a seated position into a standing warrior’s pose.  Just another part of a magical weekend with my women’s group.

When I got home, David was out and most of the condo surfaces were covered with a fine white layer of dust, created by the drywall repair man. The restoration of our first floor was finally underway. When I left on Saturday, the first floor had some organized chaos on in it, including piles of laundry – sheets and towels – that had needed washing after our return in March but had gone to storage in April as we cleared the condo of stuff for the first part of the restoration.  It probably didn’t look like a system with a plan, but it was. On Monday, everything was pushed out of the way or piled into boxes so the dry wall man could do his work.

What is it that allows, or makes, a person transition from a posture of peace and acceptance to having a lizard brain do the driving?  I was supremely cranky and discontent when David got home, and couldn’t find my way out of it. I seemed not to be able to handle the disconnect between my peaceful weekend experience and the reality of our disrupted living conditions when I got home. When I tried to explain how I was feeling, I felt that David wasn’t listening and didn’t understand, which only deepened my crankiness.  It took until the morning for me to have some insight to my mood, and to apologize to David.

This whole year, and certainly since our return to San Francisco in March, has had little of the grounding I had hoped for during my gap year. I love being home, and had imagined finding a new routine in my life without work in San Francisco. Yes, I had wanted the two plus months in Canada in the early part of the year, but I also wanted to be home once we were back. When we got back in late March, we stayed in Airbnbs or similar lodging for six weeks, and even once we decided to live in the construction zone, two of our floors were disrupted for months. The hole in the concrete slab on the first floor was open for 3 ¼ months; the concrete pour just took place on July 15. The first floor restoration will continue into the first two weeks in August, coinciding with our nieces’ visits (they’ll have to sleep on an Aero bed in the dining room!), exactly what we had hoped to avoid.

All this by way of building the case for my conclusion early last week that the last thing I really wanted, or needed, was to leave home to go on vacation to Canada in mid-August. Two years ago, we signed up for a week of fishing (fly fishing for salmon) on Vancouver Island with our friends from Seattle, tagged to our bi-annual scuba diving trip to, you guessed it, God’s Pocket Resort. I just felt overwhelmed by the idea of packing up, driving north, and not being home for another chunk of time.

So I ventured the truth with David. He wasn’t happy but he seemed to accept it. I felt some initial relief, but continued to worry the ripples of such a decision (How would our friends feel?  Could we fill my spot on the dive charter so as not to lose the money? Etc. etc.)  A few days later, David came home from errands and said that he wanted me to reconsider and to join him on our planned vacation. While had been out that morning, I had, in fact, come to the same conclusion.

What I know to be true is that we are each in control of our world view. If I think these three weeks will be hard and not good for me, then sure enough, I can look forward to three weeks of vacation misery. But I also know life isn’t black and white, and that marriage takes both truth and compromise. I told David I would go, but that I might not fish a lot, and I probably wouldn’t scuba dive. He said, wonderful man that he is: “tell me what you need and we’ll make that happen.”

What I need is the freedom to sleep and read, some quiet, alone time between group activities and fun, and some routine (with his participation) around exercise and healthy eating. What I need is to speak the truth about what I want to do or not do, even if that’s not convenient. I know it would be easier for me to have all that at home. Being home would also fill the hole created by being away so much this year, and by being dislocated and disrupted in our home even when we were there.

But I also know I can have whatever I want wherever I am (well, except being physically home if I’m not!). If I can hold that truth, and ask for and allow for what I want, I can trade misery for a lovely, adventurous vacation. And I’ll be home in no time at all.


I post about once a week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, or even Friday. Sometimes, like today, when the week has been hectic, I’ll post on a Saturday… Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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One thought on “Vacation and Other Miseries

  1. You guys cover some territory. Just arrived in PDX myself to go to Chamber Music NE concert at Reed. Back tomorrow. Have fun at Pinot event. Mary

    Sent from my iPhone



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