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Opinion June 2014

The Old Gal

Vacation Vexation

By Anne Ashley

To me, unwinding simply means finding the next thing to do after finishing the last thing I did. I find it difficult to switch off or to “chill” at the best of times, but a vacation, mini-break or whatever my better-half camouflages it as, fills me with utter dread.

You would think that planning for a vacation was a good thing (actually, it was nothing more than a mini-break). You would be forgiven for assuming that being able to get away from it all would fill me with joy and excitement (some folk I know even get as much pleasure from the preparations and booking hotel rooms and necessary foreign accouterments as they do the actual getting away part! Strange people). However, no, the feeling is quite the opposite for me.

In fact, I get separation anxiety the moment my long-suffering husband mentions anything even remotely associated with us being away from home. You know how adults spell out certain anti-social words in front of young and impressionable minds? You know how grown-ups use euphemisms when talking about taboo topics in the presence of innocence? Even the slightest indication that my husband is contemplating relaxing elsewhere sends me into such an instant panic that he now disguises his intentions to vacation outside the home by using gentle expressions such as a “rest” or a “break” or a “breather” in order to broach the delicate subject without incurring the inevitable fallout!

Poor man – what he wouldn’t give to be married to one of those women you see in movies or advertisements that can throw a hairbrush and an extra pair of underwear into a plastic bag and “go” without hyperventilating into a paper bag at the thought! What he wouldn’t give for a life partner that surprises him with a romantic stopover in a quaint B&B somewhere just...because, without needing to down valium like M&Ms!

I’ve never been one to relax or unwind at the end of my day, even at home. To me, unwinding simply means finding the next thing to do after finishing the last thing I did. I find it difficult to switch off or to “chill” at the best of times, but a vacation, mini-break or whatever my better half camouflages it as, fills me with utter dread. The thought of having to choose meals from an unfamiliar menu or having to perform cosmetic miracles in a hotel room where electrical sockets are situated 300 yards from the mirror, or the window is facing in the wrong direction, is guaranteed to hasten a meltdown! Moreover, you do not even want to get me started on what passes for an adequate iron in hotel rooms these days.

By the time I’ve finished packing my essentials plus the things I might need, plus my “what if” items, my husband’s baggage allowance is reduced to no more than a pillowcase – which reminds me … pillows! I mean, seriously, is it asking too much that I’m provided with a pillow that can at least support my head? The last hotel I stayed in offered pillows so thin I had to confiscate all four cushions and leave my husband to fend for himself with the travel pillow. He didn’t mind the discomfort as much as he minded the addition to the list of essential things I have to bring. Two large pillows minimize his space to little more than a lunch box!

I have always been this way. I don’t understand the logic behind setting up a comfortable and familiar home, only to go somewhere uncomfortable and unfamiliar with your free time! Surely, the place to enjoy your downtime in is the place you just furnished to accommodate your every need.

This last week was further proof, if proof is needed, that vacations are not for me. A short flight and a stay with family resulted in more angst than if I had been planning a high altitude orbit into outer space. Between the arguing over what sun block people on planet California use and which travel sickness pills work the fastest, I fear I might have exhausted my saintly husband’s patience. I am sure, one of these trips; he’s not going to bring me back. Which, you guessed it, causes me to rethink that essentials list. I mean, if I am going to be abandoned somewhere without my familiar fundamentals, I’m going to need … well, everything, right?

It’s good to be home!


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