It is that time in vacation when you are nearing the ready to return home.
I’m seeing this a lot this year, and last year, too. As my children get older, they are less interested in frequent travel and more interested in being home. Whether to see friends or simply to be in the familiar, perhaps a bit of both.
Last year, we spent a week in Delaware which led right into a week in northern Michigan. It was just too much time away at the very end.
And yet, for me, I love the idea of being away for an extended time, whether to live in another country or to travel the world. Perhaps I have an eye toward retirement, toward the time when children are grown and my responsibilities fewer.
But the idea of fully immersing in a new place, in learning the bend of the roads and the hellos at the local post office and the cafes in which to write the novel I can finally publish.
Yesterday, we vacationed the way I love to. Dan and I and three of our children left the resort and drove the winding loops of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
They all climbed the first dune; I got halfway up then turned back -hot sand, steep climb, and I really do not love heights.
Then we surveyed the even steeper overlooks, the 70-degree or so drop from observation deck to Lake Michigan, the sand hill that the guide warned us was too dangerous to climb. And yet, so many people – dots on the horizon of our view – crab-walked up the very steep hill, having gotten to the bottom and with no way back but the climb, could not stand erect for fear of falling backwards.
And finally, we immersed in the pleasing waters of Lake Michigan, its hues of blue and teal, its rhythmic waves, its satisfying sand floor.
We threw the frisbee again and again in the late-day sun, and my eldest helped a little girl brave the waves. We became our best, freest selves. We lived in only that moment.
You would think that after full immersion, it would be time to go home. I think that’s what everyone is feeling now.
To be honest, the three older kids are still asleep. The little guy wraps into his pajamas on the deck with me, staring at the treetops and drinking in the silent, beautiful northern air.
What is it about the human condition that makes us yearn for the place we are not? What makes us want to return to the race, to the combustion and the confusion and the chaos?