The house is quiet. All weekend it’s been quiet. Cool air through the windows. My love and I, coming down from being away.
It’s weird to be home and a relief, too.
Two straight weeks of vacation…wonderful, intense, insane, beautiful. And now that I am back in my quiet house with all of the beautiful colors and familiar places to sit and breathe and come back to myself, I am realizing a few great truths about vacation.
1. If I want it to be a real vacation, don’t take any work.
Since it took me five days to truly disconnect from the constant vibration of checking email, interacting with clients, reading Facebook and worrying about to-dos and lists, there was no place for work on this vacation. Once I finally unplugged, I felt free. Quiet. Able to see the bright sunlight emanating from a perfect blue sky.
The flavors were stronger, the scents brighter. Salt air, melting butter, fresh made ice cream in northern Michigan with the cows chomping on grass just beyond the deck. Which brings me to a second truth…
2. When I work, I am not fully in the world.
Let’s face it. If we are tied to desks and screens, we might hear the birds twittering outside the open window but we don’t really focus on them. Or their importance.
On a typical work day, a drive in the car includes quick phone calls to check things off my list and often insane races to get things done. On these vacations, my daughter read to us from the Hunger Games trilogy as we drove long miles together. The car was silent. Nobody complained. Phones did not beep. We listened. Together.
In. The. Moment.
When I work, I juggle projects and ideas, clients and demands. I aim to finish, to please, to satisfy, to inspire. Yes, there is inspiration and awe in the work that many of us do, but while we multitask, both online and off, we are never truly present anywhere.
3. Silence is essential at vacation’s end.
We timed this jaunt so that when we returned home, my children went to their father for the weekend and my step-daughter went to her mother. So Dan and I are savoring the silence and the stillness. Yes, the house is dusty from inaction and two weeks of our absence. We have some unpacking to do.
But the first night home, we climbed into bed somewhere after 8 o’clock and watched a movie on-demand. The windows were open. The air sifted through the screens. We watched and we talked and we lingered and it was so incredibly lovely.
Yesterday morning, we wandered through Eastern Market and breakfasted at Le Petit Dejeuner, a new charming bistro in Detroit serving fantastic fresh food for people to share. Had the kids been home, we would have continued the race that is a family vacation. And never truly unwound.
4. Sometimes, the best plans are the ones we don’t plan.
These last two weeks were unplanned. Sure, we had destinations (Bethany Beach, Delaware and Crystal Mountain, Michigan) and we had ideas, but we weren’t too attached to the latter. Whatever unfolded was fine.
For the first time at the beach, we didn’t do much. We barely shopped at the outlets. We only dabbled in the boardwalk and Funland on the very last day. We devoted our time to leisurely breakfasts followed by outstretched days in sand and surf. It was, in a word, beautiful.
Up North, while we had thought we wanted to go go go – to Traverse City, to Sleeping Bear Dunes, to all the little towns a half-hour’s drive away – what we ended up doing was being together, among cousins, at the resort.
The kids climbed the rock walls every single day. Traversed the adventure course. The alpine slide – once. Most of the days were spent poolside, cousins splashing and laughing and dinners just didn’t matter that much as long as we were all together.
5. Coming home is more than a place.
In the last hours of vacation, all energies collided and emotions runneth over. Coming home meant quieting. Listening to my soul speak. Sitting. Basking.
The skies opened up in the night, and I awoke yesterday to gentle rainfall and gray all around. But, it was beautiful. Even now, there is humidity coming through the open windows and I refuse to turn on the air because it feels good just to feel.
Going away is an impressive gift. It gives us the light of perspective, a chance to breathe, time away from routine to gain insight.
Best of all, vacations have become, for me, a time to slow down with my children and really bask in the sunshine that is their presence. All day, all night, all of us together, with no work beckoning, no places to be, no shifts in parenting time. Just all of us together all the time.