In less than two months I'm going to do what, to me, used to be the unthinkable: take a vacation. I used to think that I'd rather be trapped in an elevator with Justin Bieber and Honey Boo Boo's entire family than go on a vacation. Even when I watch TV, I can't relax; I just keep thinking about all the work that I still have to do. I didn't think I'd be able to deal with several days off, because I rarely take even just one day off.
The last time I did any real traveling was when I participated in a study abroad program in Spain; that was thirteen years ago, when I was twenty. Most of my classmates slept or sunbathed all day and then went barhopping at night with American tourists. I walked up and down the streets of the city I lived in, ate tapas at Spanish bars, visited Barcelona and Bilbao, went to museums, talked to Spaniards (who were amused by my clumsy attempts at Spanish), almost converted to a new religion before I finally realized what they were talking about (I'm not making that up), and wrote down everything I saw and experienced in my journal. I resolved that when I got older, I'd continue traveling and see the world.
I didn't. Instead I got my master's degree and started teaching high school students, half of whom cursed me out or started fights in class; the other half showed me poems and rap lyrics they wrote and confided in me about their problems with other students and their families.
I went on to teach college students during the day, where I had to deal with students who acted like Kim Kardashian had just been elected president when I gave them B's. I worked in a bookstore and a clothing store at night. I had the money to travel, but I didn't have the time.
I traveled to Kentucky to review AP literature exams. I traveled to New Orleans and St. Louis for weddings. I went to my parents' home in another state twice a year; lately I've had to go there more often to help them with personal issues, and I even had to give up my spring break one year for them. But I haven't gone anywhere that was just for me.
Now I'm in my thirties and I think back to that twenty-year-old girl I used to be, the one who didn't work all the time and was eager to soak up as much of life as she could. I stopped being that person several years and several jobs ago. I think that working two or three jobs, seven days a week, for so long drained me and turned me into a neurotic workaholic.
Last year when I was going to my parents' house to take care of their dogs so that they could go on a vacation, I thought about how unfair it was that I never got to go on my own vacations. And then I thought, what's stopping me now? I have the money and I have the time. So why not go?
I chose New York because I've read so many books and seen so many TV shows and movies that are set in New York. I also heard that you don't need a car to get around the city, which is good because I usually don't stop shrieking until I take my hands off the steering wheel.
So I finally booked a trip to New York for the end of August. I reserved a room for four nights in Chinatown, partly because it's on my list of places I want to see. I also want to see Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and that Serendipity cafe from that John Cusack movie. I want to eat New York style pizza (though I still think Chicago-style pizza is the best), buy an "I Heart New York" T-shirt and be the stereotypical New York tourist. I also kind of want to dance on that giant keyboard in Fao Schwartz like Tom Hanks did in Big. I'm not bringing any work with me, and yet somehow I think I'll be able to relax. I can't wait.
What about you? What's your dream vacation?
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