Vacation My Way

As the house lights faded, my nose burned with emotion.

It’s rare that I don’t feel more than one emotion at once.

That day, last Saturday, it was gratitude, awe, pride, all together.

My kids, both older teens, and I had settled into our seats. Row 13, slightly off center. The theatre had filled fast around us, everyone thrumming with excitement over the renowned illusionist who was due to take the stage any minute.

It was a phenomenal show, I’ll say, but it was more than just a show to me, which circles me back to the emotion of the moment, of our long weekend.

This was our first vacation, the three of us. Our first real vacation—more than a single-night “staycation” in my native Kansas City, which we’ve managed a couple times over the years.

This was the first book-a-hotel-for-multiple-nights, coordinate-and-pre-purchase-event-tix, build-a-full-and-fabulous-itinerary, drive-a-fair-distance-from-home vacation we’ve ever been able to take together in the full decade (and then some) I’ve lived as a single mom and DV survivor.

There hasn’t been a budget before now, any/all wherewithal completely lacking. I’ve had so many more important things to do, for literal years. Work. Re-establish and stabilize. Define myself. Fight. Create and maintain a safe space for my kids. Heal.

But it was finally time. And I was finally able to pull it off.

Just so you know, we’re not talking grandiose scale. We took a modest trip, which was exactly right for us.

We did what we wanted. We balanced entertainment with leisure, and lots of delicious food. We enjoyed each other and manifested a peaceful, easy, happy time.

The “vacations” of my life before weren’t so. You probably know, survivor. Trips are mostly filled with tension, usually some ulterior motive, and fueled by someone who cares more about what others think about the projection — and audience consumption — of the fancy, impressive “vacation.” All that matters is how it looks to others, not whether it’s actually fun, enjoyable for everyone, rejuvenating for those who need and deserve it.

I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. Of the emotions I used to associate with vacation.

But this time, long overdue, I did it my way. My little family did it our way, and it did not disappoint.

I still feel so much gratitude, awe, pride.

And for the first time in years, I look forward to another vacation.

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