Thursday, January 12, 2012

We've Gotta Get Out of This Place

I need a vacation.

Like, seriously need a vacation. Not in an "Gee, my life is so crazy, I could sure use a break, golly!" way, but in a "I am about to claw my own skin off if I don't go somewhere new soon" way.

I know there's some crazy statistic out there that claims most Americans never leave the country, and few even leave their home states, but I am not one of those people. I am a traveler. I like to go places. Mostly for the food, and, in my adult life, for the hooch: I've had reindeer in Finland, vodka in Russia, bignets in New Orleans, pizza in Chicago, oxtail in Spain, microbrew in Colorado, falafel in Israel, ale in England, wine in Italy, and, once in South Africa, some weird homemade moonshine someone brought to a party from, I don't know, Botswana or something, that caused me to black out for a short while.

Before my first son, the Juban Princeling, was born I overheard a man in an elevator tell his friend, "My wife and I just got back from vacation. Our first one in 15 years without the kids."

I vowed then and there to never be that guy. 

Three times my husband and I have tried to get out of town. Three times we have been thwarted by fate's fickle douchiness. 

In 2008 we booked a trip to Paris for a week. OMG did we get into it. I bought a "French for Your Trip" CD, the Lonely Planet guide to Paris, and my friend who had lived there briefly as a model - you know, as you do - inscribed detailed notes on a map for us. The Princeling, who by then would be seven months old, would stay with my parents in Miami while we ate bread and cheese and wine in a French park and slept in a French hotel room not littered with pacifiers, burp clothes, and spit-up stains.

Then we decided to move, from Manhattan to Brooklyn. And moving ain't cheap. And we had just finished paying off the massive credit card debt we had accrued while "nesting" in anticipation of the Princeling's birth. Something had to give, and that something was Paris.

Our next attempt at a child-free vacation happened in February 2010. For my birthday we booked ourselves three nights in a quaint little bed and breakfast upstate, complete with in-room hot tub. My mom would come up the week before and fly back to Miami with the Princeling. For weeks I had visions of spending my birthday sipping champagne in a hot tub while my gorgeous and awesome husband fed me chocolates.

Instead, my mom got stranded here in the Great Blizzard Snowpocalypse of 2010, and by the time she managed to get home, not even the promise of three days with the Princeling all to herself could convince her to take him off our hands. My gorgeous and awesome husband even offered to fly down with the Princeling and then return three days later just to pick him up, but no. My parents had seen the Awful Beast that is February weather in New York, and, like the survivors at the end of a zombie movie, they boarded up and went radio silent for a while.

Most recently, my parents - who clearly felt guilty about their post-Snowpocalypse, end-of-zombie-movie behavior that RUINED MY HOT TUB AND CHAMPAGNE BIRTHDAY (hashtag: firstworldproblems) - booked us on a week long cruise for this past April. I'm not a fan of cruises generally, but I didn't care. By the time they offered I was so desperate to go somewhere I would have taken a trip to Kabul. 

My husband and I booked our on-shore activities. Scuba classes in Cozumel. Horseback riding among Mayan ruins. Ziplining in Costa Rica. And OHMYGOD SEVEN MORNINGS OF WAKING UP WHENEVER THE HELL WE WANT TO WAKE UP. No one whining at us that the hot dog we made that he asked for is "too yucky." No one screaming "Bah!" into our faces when we tell him he can't have a lollipop for breakfast. No one responding with, "You could do it," when tell him to clean up his toys. Just my loverman and me, in places that are not New York or South Florida, places where our parents and child are not. Paradise.

So of course that never happened, because my dad was diagnosed with cancer last February and was scheduled to receive his first chemo treatment the week of our cruise. Just to spite me. We just could not burden my poor mother with both a 60-year old chemo patient AND an energetic 2 1/2-year old. If we had any doubts about this, in March I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder, and would still be recovering come cruise time in April: no booze, no ziplining.

My point is, it's not for lack of trying that the hubby and I haven't made it beyond New York or South Florida for the past four years. We're not those creepy parents whose lives come to a screeching halt with the arrival of kinderfolk. We are more than happy to dump our offspring on his grandparents so we can bust out our passports and try new foods and alcohols in exotic locales.

Because of my dad's cancer (calm down, he is 100% fine now. He even took a trip to Paris - !!! - and Amsterdam in October.) we made many visits to Miami in 2011, some just me and the Princeling, others all three of us. And now, with the imminent arrival of the Duke of Juban (ETA: March 2012) we feel we've earned the right to a Florida-free year in 2012. Oh, I know. Boo-hoo, we had to go to Florida. But we didn't go to fun Florida. We went to visit our parents, which, even in Florida is pretty much like going to visit your parents anywhere else. A couple of nights we went out to dinner in Miami, and I think we saw some movies. 


That's why we are making 2012 the year we finally take a proper vacation. With the kids! I don't even care. The Princeling is a fun guy, let's schlep him along. His baby bro, too. A friend suggested we do a family-friendly all-inclusive resort, and I found one in Barbados that has a nursery for the Duke and a Kid's Club for the Princeling so that from 9am to 5pm every day our kids can be other people's problems while the two of us glue giant frozen margaritas to our hands and go kayaking, possibly both together. AND WE ARE GOING. I don't care if we all die trying. I don't care if five hurricanes block our flight. I don't care if we all have to travel in body casts. I don't care if a giant earthquake rips open a chasm in the east coast and Balrog comes out. Come Hell or high water, we are taking a goddamn vacation this year.

This, I vow.


Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress said...

You totally deserve a vacay this year. With or without the kids, it is sometimes just necessary as hell to get away from the place you live, the people you see everyday and just BE.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Meredith L. said...

Thanks. It's now been over 4 years since I've been anywhere but to see my parents (or my in-laws) in South Florida, excepting a total of three nights - spread out - to visit my cousin in Virginia. I'm starting to feel like a meth addict without a fix.

Brinda said...

I feel that the last paragraph is tempting fate to send down swarms of locusts... NAH. Your post cracked me up (sorry to laugh at your very serious misfortune). I am crossing my finger and toes that they run out of glasses and must serve you margaritas in buckets.

Meredith L. said...

Bring on the locusts. Nothing will keep me from my vacay!!!

Traci Bell said...

Hi Meredith,

The only vacations I've been on since 2005 were to see family in PA, so I understand where you are coming from.

I say go!!

Meredith L. said...

2005??? Girl, get in my suitcase! You need this worse than I do!

Kara said...

Hell yay! Vacation! You clearly are entitled and deserve it. Now you just have to figure out how to handle the kiddos after 5pm and a few too many margaritas. Enjoy!

Meredith L. said...

Now you just have to figure out how to handle the kiddos after 5pm and a few too many margaritas.

Yes ma'am!

Deb said...

only my 2nd time visiting but i just have to comment on this. Enjoy your family vacay, but do not give up on getting away alone!! when my sister's kids were little (she has 4) I used to babysit so they could go away. stuff always happened. once her daughter threw up all over me and the floor as they were walking out the door. I just yelled, "go! go! don't look back!" my own kids are 14 and 11 now, but when they were little I got my payback. my sister watched the kids twice: we managed a 10 day trip to maine (hiking, b&b, food, wine, beautiful scenery) and a 10 trip to seattle (same stuff). we kept the trips domestic to give us more flexibility in case we needed it for kid emergencies. now that they're older, we've taken them with us to mexico and to costa rica. soon they'll be grown and i'll be sad that they don't travel with us anymore (we have to go alone?). Isn't life wierd? I tell you all this just to encourage you to persevere since you have willing grandparents. it WILL happen. and it IS worth it. You WILL travel again! :)

Meredith L. said...

Thank you, Deb!

We do plan to resume our attempts to travel without kids, once the new baby is a little older. A preschooler and an infant are a little much for a 60-something couple, but once the baby is about a year old - you know, basically sleeping through the night, on a schedule, eating normal foods - it should be fine. And then, Napa Valley, here we come!

Patti said...

Wow, you've got some serious va-cay juju saved up! Enjoy!

Meredith L. said...

Thank you, Patti!

jwg said...

My daughter found a resort in jamaica called the Franklyn D (I think). Notexpensive, or terribly fancy, but the all-inclusive rates include a nanny for each family. Check it out.