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Needing a Vacation & Finding a Vacation

Like a lot of companies, my employer has a “busy season” that culminates in a conference filled with community, connection, and of course, colossal to-do lists. The week before heading out-of-state for the event, my partner and I were dogsitting The Most Amazing Dachshund in the WorldTM when the exhaustion started to take over and I laid down on the floor and told The Most Amazing Dachshund in the WorldTM how I really needed a vacation. She proceeded to enthusiastically lick my face. Close enough.

A week and change later, it would all be behind me and I would feel the wash of relief that comes from a job well done. And as the conference closing ceremony drew to an end, I found myself giddy with all the hyper-specific information I could let melt from my brain.

It would have been easy, at this point, to start thinking about “vacation” in the traditional sense. Packed cars. Road trip maps. Boarding passes. Tents and rentals and reading entire books in one day.

But I didn’t have time for that. My partner (who had joined me in the trip if only for those little moments of encouragement and comfort at the end and beginning of the day) and I had a train to catch that would drop us off back home in New York. And we had a very important mission to accomplish before then.

My friend had told me about the best vegan ice cream and it wasn’t too far from the conference hotel. With our suitcases stowed in the lobby and my lanyard still dangling from my neck, my partner and I left for the ice cream shop, power walking into the chilled March air with a lightness and sense of relief I hadn’t felt in a minute.

We arrived at the ice cream parlor and it was every bit as magical as my friend had described. There was nobody there—I suppose Sunday lunch time on St. Patrick’s Day weekend isn’t the most popular hour for trendy frozen desserts—and I reveled in the casual conversation we struck up with the employee. They let us sample multiple flavors and gave their opinions on the best combinations. There was no need to rush—I skew toward slightly later trains for that reason.

I ordered the largest ice cream sundae I have ever had in my life.

My partner got a coffee.

We sat across from each other on a long picnic table bench and I realized I was on vacation. Not because I was in a new city for a few more hours. Not because I had splurged on expensive ice cream. But rather because my mindset was so focused solely on savoring.

As far as I was concerned, I had nowhere to be and all day to get there.

I sat there and got to talk to the person I love without worrying about a missed email. I sat there and was captivated by the local art and decor of the place. I sat there and felt myself ground. It was like my feet hit the ground for the first time in two months. But rather than run, they stayed.

It’s easy to associate “vacation” with a far off place or a new experience. And I do recognize that this story doesn’t take place in my neighborhood. But it’s something I could certainly replicate there.

Perhaps the vacation I really needed and wanted is as simple as time. Undivided attention. Relaxation. Savoring. (The ice cream didn’t hurt.) But in recalling this story, I’m reminded of another busy season I experienced some years ago. When I finally crossed that metaphorical finish line, I walked across the street to my favorite park and laid on my back in the grass.

I watched the clouds move by. I laid in silence for a while and then I called a friend. It was as simple as time. Undivided attention. Relaxation. Savoring.

Wherever you are, I hope you take some time this month to go on vacation. And I hope you appreciate that it can be as simple as slow sips of your morning beverage, your favorite song whispering in the air.


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