There’s always something specific I daydream about over and over before vacation. Last summer it was sitting under a moon-lit sky eating pizza. This time, it was boogie boarding in the warm water and getting lei’d. (No offense Ryan, but I mean that literally, like the smell and feeling of the cool fragrant flowers around my neck in the fanned hotel lobby).
Choosing to go on a parents only vacation to Hawaii when you’re in the thick of parenthood is a little dicey. It’s a wonder we made it back and didn’t ship our kids out to Kauai to start our new life on a plantation. We appreciated this trip like two people who have never seen the ocean before or felt sunshine on their skin. My heart was on my knees in bewilderment and gratitude every second of the day.
We had free minds, free time, connection, sleeping-in, extra long showers and so much shredding and snorkeling. My pre-trip daydreams were fulfilled in abundance and by night, I actually dreamt about a happy sea turtle doing flips in the ocean (in contrast to either not dreaming because I’m not sleeping at home or that recurring high school nightmare where I can’t find my bloody class schedule).
While it was a great escape, grief still weaseled it’s way into my luggage. This trip wasn’t about my dad, or for my dad, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad.
It’s hard to find the flow between seemingly opposing emotions; to gracefully move between happy and sad without getting stuck.
One morning I sat mindlessly in awe of the beautiful view from our hotel room and then suddenly was hit with the strong, familiar scent of an unfolded newspaper on the bed. My dad came flooding in. When our speedboat tour took off into the ocean, the sound of the engine and the wind on my face made it feel as if my dad was the captain in the bucket hat. As I flew through the clear waters on my boogie board with nothing but a gigantic grin on my face, I could feel him by my side.
And yet I resisted the pull to “go there” every time. Sometimes when I’m happy and at peace, I just want to stay in that place as long as I can. It feels hard to cry.
But after too many moments of not going there, I was forced to go there. Emotions built up like a volcano and I had to release it all; I had to feel extreme sadness while spying palm trees out of the corner of my eye.
But just for a few moments.
This feeling of feelings business is hard work. Learning how to navigate the tides with resilience, to move like the wind. She does it so seamlessly; for me it’s like a full-time desk job.
While I’m at it, I also wonder how to bring “vacation” home with us. It feels unacceptable to not feel that level of bliss more in “real life”. My dad always used to grow a casual goatee on our summer trips and then he would shave it off the day we got back home. Back to reality.
Let’s keep the goatee on. I want to chase the sunshine and easily find peace of mind. Kauai Ry – can you come home with us too?
I cried leaving my girls and then cried to coming home, but the middle – the salty, intentional, sweet, refreshing middle – was all worth it.
Another eye opener from vacation: we need new pillows.