The beach towels are washed and put away, the mail has been read, filed or shredded, the refrigerator experiments have been released into the wild while new food items were purchased to take their place, and the various pets have been held and petted and cuddled and loved A LOT. Notice I said A LOT, but not too much, because Gabby is the neediest, meow-iest cat in the whole world. Just ask her.
It was an interesting vacation this year, and I learned several things about travel, vacation and myself. To whit:
Item The First: As I unpacked my suitcase this afternoon, I discovered I never once wore socks. Every single pair was clean and untouched, exactly where I put them two weeks ago. The closest I came to socks was donning the requisite pair of No-Nonsense Panty Hose when I heard TeenTuna sing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. (It wasn't exactly gay apparel, but I thought it was the right thing to do). Otherwise, the entire vacation was a sandal, tennis shoe or flip-flop kind of affair. I'm thinking now I needed to get away because my feet were suffocating.
Item The Second: As I packed for vacation two weeks ago, I worried I was forgetting things. I always worry I am forgetting things as once, a few years ago, I went on vacation to the beach -- to the OCEAN where I've gone for the past many years -- and I forgot to bring a bathing suit. Any bathing suit. Which meant I had to buy one. At the beach. At the OCEAN. Where they know they have you right where they want you so you start sawing off an arm and a leg before you're inside the store.
Fortunately, I haven't forgotten a bathing suit since then, but now it isn't about that anyway. It isn't about forgetting your toothpaste or your socks (which you don't need). Now it's all about the cords. Going on vacation? I needed an inventory list of CORDS. Cell phone? Needs a cord. Portable DVD player? Needs THREE CORDS. Camera? Cord. iPod? Bazillion cords. GameBoy? Cord Cord Cord. It's crazy, I tell you, because just like a bathing suit, if you're missing a cord, you're going to be hunting for the first Radio Shack Cord-Emporium you can find (Nags Head, Mile Post 14. Just ask me), because it gets to the point that your car needs a CORD so you can have a splitter and plug MORE CORDS into your car because the GameBoy needs to recharge while you watch Pirates of the Caribbean for the 90th time. Getting all these cords right? It's a lot of pressure.
Item The Third: Little kids make things fun. This year was NephewSan's first year at the OCEAN with the BOATS and the BEACH and the...the....THE FISH and the RIVER (we don't know where that one came from) and considering he's just two years old, he did amazingly well. Whereas TeenTuna was scared to death of the ocean at that age, NephewSan wasn't frightened but was appropriately cautious. When he wasn't paying attention so much, I scooped him up and walked a ways into the ocean, and then next thing you knew a wave would come up and tickle his feet and guess what? It was ok. Then dad held him and they walked a little more and had a grand old time. GO IN OCEAN? became a common phrase. Right after SEASHELL! SEASHELL! SEASHELL! CRAB HOLE!! CRAB HOLE!! CRAB HOLE!! I think it took them twice as long to make it back to the house because he had to point out every single crab hole he saw. That kind of excitement was infectious and reminded us why we love the ocean so much.
Item The Last: It was good to go, but it's good to be home. I'm not sure that is so much of a discovery, but what seemed different this year was that I didn't dread vacation coming to an end. I didn't spend the last day at the beach feeling depressed that it was the last day and I had to leave. This year, somehow, it was OK, and it wasn't because there was anything inferior about our trip. Quite the contrary, the weather was perfect (it rained uh.....NEVER) and everything went quite well. And it wasn't because I didn't need a vacation. Believe me, I NEEDED A VACATION. BADLY. I had been running on empty for quite awhile and needed to exit the GreenTuna superhighway of insanity. But I'm glad I'm back, and after 24 hours, re-entry hasn't been bad at all. In fact, it's been pretty darn good.
Watch out. I'm rested and ready to go.