Jul 18 2008
Boy, I remember the days when vacations were hard-chargin’ affairs and adventures to far off lands. We Thompsons would do ‘em up right. There were cosmopolitan ventures to New York, and laid back sojourns to hammocks in the Keys.
I remember times sitting on the dusty floors of Preservation Hall in New Orleans with a newly-bought flask whetting my whistle. We journeyed to Ireland to converse with the sheep, and even my trips to Cuba as a journalist took on tinges of vacation when the music started to drift through the Caribbean heat at night and the rum began to flow.
I remember them just like they were yesterday, even though they’re a long time gone now.
I think of this because the Thompson family will head out on a new adventure soon — our latest vacation. And this time we’re going somewhere very exotic and out-of-the-way … Orlando! Yippee.
What a different world it is with a 2 -year-old. A few years back, if I was told I was going on a trip like this, I would have said, “No thanks, I’ll go to work instead.” I was a little bit of a vacation snob.
But that said, the funny thing is, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m excited, even thrilled. Part of me is a bit confused. We’re doing everything I used to dread. We’re staying in a Disney resort where my pillow will probably whisper in my ear, “Buy more Mickey Mouse toys.” We’re spending a day at Sea World, which is nothing more than a big bowl of fish. We’re scheduling time (I mean, we have got it blocked out!) to do nothing but swim in a giant pool until the sun has baked our skin like overcooked bacon.
We’re going to eat so much ice cream that the scooper man behind the bar will pull up and say, “You know, I think you’ve had enough. Can I call you a cab?” We’re going to sleep in and buy expensive trinkets and eat lots of lousy, overpriced food. I’ve got to tell you, I might even buy a shirt that screams in the tackiest tourist colors, “My family went to Orlando and they’re still paying off their credit cards.”
Is there something wrong with me to be this excited?
I don’t think it’s that my tastes have changed (don’t expect to see me in Bermuda shorts, socks with sandals or a hat like Gilligan wore.) Rather, maybe it’s my priorities that have been altered. With a daughter, and a young one at that, I’m reconsidering how you define vacation, and especially fun.
Vacations used to be more self-centered it was about MY enjoyment. But there’s something so — how do I explain it? — something so gratifying about putting this little person’s enjoyment first. I will stop at nothing to make sure SHE has fun.
Oh, and we’re going to tear it up! The kid is already juiced. She doesn’t even know what Sea World is, but you mention we’re going there and her eyes light up and she runs about the house waving her hands like there are hornets in her shorts.
I could have just told her we were going to the IRS audit center. What does she know? When you’re a kid, it doesn’t matter where you’re going, just so long as it’s somewhere fast. She’s into it, and frankly, I am too.
I’ve thought about packing already, and normally I don’t do that until 15 minutes after we leave. I’ve started training and even heat-conditioning myself by sitting in the car with the windows up and the air conditioning off. I’m trying to simulate what it will be like to trek through an Orlando theme park in the dead of summer, but I can’t get the car hot enough.
In the next couple of days I’ll get the credit card waxed and then I’ll be truly ready to go.
Ready to experience an Orlando vacation for the first time as a parent. It’ll be a different vacation for sure, but some things won’t change — at least I’ll still have my trusty flask.