I hated that question when I was a kid. Every first-day-of-school, grades 4-8, the assignment was “write an essay on how you spent your summer vacation.”
My dad worked retail, six days a week, before the era of paid vacation leave. What I did on my summer break was work in the garden (when I couldn’t wiggle out of it), spend a week with my grandparents (with my big sister along to make sure I behaved), Vacation Bible School for two weeks, and, occasionally, a movie. Many lazy days, playtime under the big shade tree, and sitting with Mother listening to her soap operas.
I never saw any of that as fodder for an essay. It did not compare to, say, my friend’s trip to Dallas Fair Park and Aquarium.
But, all that is in the past. This summer I have had three wonderful vacations already and it’s still 5 more weeks till Labor Day.
In June I joined with my youngest daughter’s family to celebrate her 60th birthday! She told her husband, “No surprise party,” but he couldn’t resist. I was a surprise. It was a delightful weekend with the Quade family when I was able to meet my newest great grand, Caleb Lucas, and read stories to his big brother, Noah.
A scant month later even more of us got together in Oklahoma for our annual family ‘union’ with all my kids, grands, and great-grands who were able to come. Some were missing because of sickness or work, but we had another great family time including a hilarious game of Trivial Pursuit.
Last weekend, I took heart in mouth and climbed aboard an airplane to Baltimore to visit my youngest son, Phillip, who I had not seen since Christmas. Such a good time.
I had never been to Maryland and I thoroughly enjoyed being chauffeured around to see the Harbor, historic neighborhoods, and the scenic drive to Annapolis. We didn’t tour the Naval Academy, as we had planned, but drove across the Severn River that runs into Chesapeake Bay. Though the natives complained about the heat (85 degrees), I loved the breeze off the bay as we walked the path down to the water’s edge. (There has been no breeze in Arkansas since tornado season.)
After a quick brunch with grandson Aaron who drove up from D.C. and a satisfying day sight-seeing, Phillip and I engaged in our favorite joint activity: binge-watching sitcom reruns.
Sunday noon, and time to return home. Just a little weepy at leaving him, I checked in, found my gate, and boarded my flight home. Even though I had to sit in a middle seat, I chose a place next to a nice-looking young man dressed in a Southwest Airlines uniform. (FYI, he had opted for a seat over the wing. Good for him, good for me.)
As I fastened my seat belt, the announcement came over the speaker: “We will be in Dallas in 2 1/2 hours.” I said, “What? Did she say Dallas?” The nice young man answered that was indeed what she said. I explained that I was going to Little Rock … they took my boarding pass and everything.
The off-duty pilot then told me that this was a ‘direct’ flight, not to be confused with a ‘non-stop’ flight. (I’m not making this up.) ‘Non-stop’ means you fly from city to city without stopping. ‘Direct’ means you fly from city to city without getting off the plane, though you may indeed stop to let some passengers off and take more on.
I didn’t argue with him, glad to know that eventually I would land in Little Rock without any effort on my part, though Baltimore to Little Rock via Dallas doesn’t really seem direct. And instead of experiencing take-off twice on this trip, it was three times.
And that’s what I did on my summer vacation. If I just had a chance to write about it.
Oh, wait. I just did.