In these essays, I challenge myself to write dangerously — focused on the ideas and feelings at the time. I set them aside, for publishing later. So, the events detailed in the essays do not always correlate with the date they are released on my website.
I google things that Google cannot answer. Why does my leg hurt? Where did I leave my phone? I mentally compose forum threads — never to publish. Recently, I’ve thought about anonymously asking the masses about how I vacation. I’m only looking for validation. All other points of view will be disregarded.
I want to skip Christmas — and Thanksgiving, Easter, Independence Day, and my birthday. I never want to go on a vacation ever again.
This point of view endeared me to my husband. We both hated the holidays and vacations (or so he said). Meaning that we would avoid doing obligatory things. Even as a child, I did not like vacations and holidays. My parents and siblings recall them as fond memories of excess, tradition, wonderment, and joy.
Exhaust and Excess
Preparation and anticipation begin the process — emotions and activities I don’t want to experience. I don’t want to rush to clean the house, do extra laundry, shop, pack, plan in service of relaxation. I don’t want to scream my way through an airport. The escalation of work in preparation for a time of no work confounds me. (This repeats itself at the end of the cycle.)
Then, the events themselves are things I would rather not do.
On family vacations, the women are expected to keep house — cooking, picking up, and arranging activities. In my daily life, I fill the feminine role in my own way and it does not match the way my people live. Can you tell I’m the oldest and a girl?
Holidays are the same. Every moment, I must socialize or care for someone.
We are engaged in structured activities, merging our schedules, and doing things together — until we absolutely dislike each other. We bicker over who lost the hotel remote and what we’re going to do next. This or that? We stand in lines.
Where My People Are
Several years ago, one side of my family attempted a large group family vacation. We participated once, under duress. My people have realized, probably with some hurt feelings, that I will not go even if they cover some of the expenses. I will not go even if I had limitless time off. I will not go for free childcare.
I build this up in my head (#im14andthisisdeep). I’m not like the rest of you. I don’t like what you like. I don’t dislike you. I just like myself more. We don’t value the same things. We enjoy different moments. We just aren’t compatible.
I don’t want to be where my people are. It’s not because they’re not my people. I’d like to not live with them ever for any period of time.
The Rainbow Cookie
When I was pregnant, several years ago, my mother asked me what kind of cookies my husband liked. That is how we talk in our family during the holidays. The women take care of all the things for the men from gifts to food.
“I don’t know. Ask him what kind of cookies he likes.”
“What kind of cookies?”
“Fine. He says lemon cookies but really Rainbow Cookies.”
Somehow, I am researching how to make rainbow cookies and procuring ingredients. I am 7 months pregnant and sifting flour to make 3 separately colored layers of “proper sponge”. It’s a two-day process involving an overnight layering of 3 sponge cakes weighted down with canned goods.
Each step that I tried to pass off to my husband became a barrier to familial bliss. Each year, I stepped back a little. My family tried to make it a tradition. I just wanted it to end.
“If my husband really wants rainbow cookies, he can make them.”
“But, it’s a family tradition.”
“No, it’s not.”
“You started the tradition when you were pregnant.”
“Not a tradition. Not making cookies.”
I don’t like baking and I feel guilty that I don’t like baking. It’s a dynamic our holidays would not be complete without. The tension of the thing — me not baking ruins the baking for everyone.
I also dislike board games, family get-togethers, and most holiday food. Three years ago, I contracted Lymes with Alpha-gal. Now, I’m one of those neurotic-seeming types that will die if I eat red meat. Everything is covered in bacon and I can’t breathe.
Vacations only work if you are all generally pointed in the same direction of yearning. We all want to be at Disney World. We all want to sit down and eat turkey. We all want to decorate cupcakes.
I want to be the grandfather in the corner taking a nap. But, I will never be a grandfather and therefore, I ruin it.
You may ask, logically, what kind of miserable life I desire — without Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, or vacations.
I want time off to read. I work hard. My life is full. I want to read more and days off are my only time to do this.
My perfect Christmas?
I wake up and feed my husband and son something. Perhaps the bagels were purchased days before. They’ll be nice bagels, of course. But, I will leave them to operate the toaster on their own. Then, they will do — whatever it is they do. I will read.
My perfect birthday?
I will eat takeout, sit alone, and read. It’s in September so, I want to read outside. I’ll be in the shade. I will not respond to text messages. I don’t need a cake. Cake is nice but, I’ll skip the cake if I have to do a party with it.
My perfect vacation?
I will go somewhere that is not a tourist location. I won’t sightsee. I won’t do loads of laundry beforehand. I’ll pack. I’ll mop.
I’ll go to the library. I will get 2 books that are trendy, 2 books I’ve already read and know I like, and 1 book that makes me look smart. I will only read the ones I’ve already read.
Finally, I want to skip family holidays because I don’t want to wear a bra. I would like free nipples inside and in semi-public settings. This is an important part of my time off — letting my breasts exist anonymously.
They are a burden in everyday life. I have to wrap them up and cover them all the time. High-necked shirts and underwire bras for work. Loose-fitting tops and thickly padded bralettes for church. Tight sports bras and blousy t-shirts for the gym.
I check my mailbox with just a camisole. No one has died yet but, it’s a risk I take every day.
During the holidays my breasts are an unwelcome addition and thus, my comfort is compromised. Books and no bra — two things I desperately want in my everyday life and two things I prioritize for my time off.
Time Off and Time On
My time off is a precious thing. I work and — take care of my family — all the time. When I’m not working, I don’t want extra caregiving lumped onto me. My husband will not die if he has to make his own sandwich. My son can exist without constant entertainment from me.
If that means skipping, hiding, and side-stepping — it’s not because I don’t like my people. I like my people. I just want time off.