My vacation began Friday, August 26th.
I live by myself. I could say alone, but I don’t live alone. I have neighbors. They influence some of my behavior. I open and close my windows to their voices. I travel the same road to work each day and see the same people walking in the early dawn.
Living by myself also means I vacation by myself most of the time. I have taken a day or two to visit with out of town family and friends. But rarely do those friends and family have nine days to spend in one place with one person. This vacation would be spent alone. I had originally planned to tent camp for four days beginning Sunday the 28th. Plans change. Things happen. Life, gets in the way.
My original plans changed when my car decided she needed a new part. Actually, two parts. It happened three weeks before the start of my vacation. I received the diagnosis. Called around for the best deal and then put down a huge chunk of money for parts to be ordered. It would take a week for the parts to come in. Okay so far.
Two weeks before my vacation and the parts came in. Great. First appointment available to replace the parts was Tuesday, August 30th. Right in the middle of my vacation and my tent camp reservation. Plan change. I agreed to the date. Cancelled my reservations for my camp site. And spent the next week wondering what I was going to do now on my long anticipated nine days off. Thursday the 25th arrived and though I still didn’t have an idea what I would do on my vacation, I was ready for the time off.
I slept in on Friday. Usually I’m up at 4:30 to get ready for work and spend a little time with a manuscript. I commute to work and my travel time is anywhere from 40 minutes to 60 minutes. Weather being the culprit and not traffic. I got out of bed at 8:30. Four extra hours! I wanted this first day to be full of the mundane things. Things I would do on any given first day of two days off. So, I did have a plan for Friday.
The first thing I wanted to do was get a haircut. My hair was becoming unruly. A cut was in order. While waiting for my turn at the chair I leafed through the magazine at my elbow. It was a fashion magazine. Not something I even look at in line at the grocery. I didn’t bring my cell phone with me since I was two blocks from home and had no other plans but to get a haircut. The magazine had a line on the cover that caught my eye.
“Summer is the time for experimentation.” Sure, it’s August and summer where I live will be over in a matter of days, not weeks. Something about the line hit me square in the face. I found the article and though clearly written for fashionistas, of which I’m not, I liked the idea of doing something different. I set the magazine down, went to the receptionist and told her that I changed my mind. I don’t want a haircut. I want a perm. She told me that I’d have to wait until one of the stylists had an opening since only one in the shop did perms. Okay by me. This is day one of my vacation and my plan was to come here. I’ll wait.
Three hours later I had my perm. Curls cascade down my head and I look like a wet poodle. Don’t worry said the stylist. This is a new perm, it will relax. Oh, I’m not worried. It’s only hair.
I played with my curls and decided since I spent four times as much for the perm as I would have for the cut, I needed something to keep the curls from becoming a mass of frizz. Off to Walgreen’s for a cheaper lotion than the one hawked at the salon. Found what I wanted and took it home. I spent the afternoon playing with my hair. Absently pulling at the curls while I started the other things on my list for the day.
Yes, even on vacation I had a list.
Laundry was on that list. Get the work clothes cleaned, dried and put away for the next eight days. And grocery shopping. I wanted a couple of things that I don’t find time for during the work week. Like something to grill. Then there was a need to clean up the place. I didn’t want to think about cleaning after Friday so I did the usual household chores of vacuuming, dusting, and general tidying up. Funny how things look different when you actually have to pick them up and move them to dust under them. I spent a good hour looking over things I see everyday. Shells from the beach, rocks and driftwood. Tangible, touchable memories.
Friday evening I ate half a steak. The rest would go in a salad or paired with eggs. or maybe a fajita. Day one came to a close.
I was up by 9:00. The weather was cooler today. The morning fog lifted to overcast skies. The temperature was mild but we didn’t see the sun today. And today, I finished my manuscript. Shieldmaiden Book Two: Jewel of Fire is now ready for clean up. I put it aside to work on a little each day, cleaning up all those things I forget to watch for when writing. Like commas. My editors can tell you, those little things have a way of multiplying something fierce in my work. See reddened face. Book 3 is already forming words and pictures in my head.
I got the closet cleaned out. Loaded a bunch of stuff in the car for Goodwill and I’ll take that over to the donation center on Monday. Threw some stuff away too. I still have too many boxes of things I don’t want but just can’t give to Goodwill. I may try to eBay or otherwise sell the dishes. They were once very popular in Europe. I no longer want them. Not even to give to my family. They are a very particular pattern. Hard to pass on something with a specific pattern.
I was going to wash Kelly today, but didn’t get to it. My girl will have to go to the dealer with a dirty dress. Maybe they’ll wash her when they’re done. Oh, Kelly is the name of my jeep.
It was a long day. I didn’t get to bed until after 2 a.m.
Today was the day I was going to drive up the coast to a small campground right on the sand. I was to have spent four days with my tent, the sea and no distractions. I didn’t get out of bed until nearly noon. I was a little depressed about the loss of my ‘quiet time.’ I’m sure you’ll understand. You’ve made plans before. Plans that sounded like a little slice of heaven, only to have something happen to change those plans. Inadvertently you alter your perception of what remains. I started Sunday the 28th with a foul taste in my mouth and a headache.
I started on the manuscript. Looking for inconsistencies. Too many commas. Too few words of dialogue. I’d stop now and again to look out my window and sigh deeply. I really wanted to be someplace else. I was tempted to put on a movie as background noise. But resisted the temptation and put on music. There was a growing dissension among the troops. I was getting restless.
My previous publisher decided to call it a day and my stories, three with this publisher, reverted back to me. I spent the evening of Day three uploading my stories to the self publishing side of Kindle. I was in bed just after midnight.
It was colder today. The sun was supposed to make an appearance later but until he does, the wind is chilly. The landscape team for my apartment complex tried to keep up with the falling leaves. Mother Nature had something else in store. I do believe our summer is making an exit. Unless we get a late reprieve early next month, it will be time to pull out the long sleeve shirts and heavy socks. I’ve already moved my little heater to the bathroom.
I spent the day reading my manuscript out loud for errors. It’s one way I go over the material. If I hear it and it doesn’t work, it gets changed. I’ve done this for everything I’ve ever written. Used to drive my parents nuts when I’d be reciting my homework over the tv.
I was in bed early. Kelly has her appointment tomorrow. I have to drive her 45 minutes south to the dealership. My plan is to hang around town, walk over to the beach and the beach front shops, lunch at a local cafe and then head back home. There is still plenty of week left for me to take my jeep and get away, if only for a day at a time.
Day five. Up early enough to get to the dealer by 10. I was there at 9:45. Dropped off my key and started to walk around. It was still early for the shops on a Tuesday. Most don’t open until 11 on the weekdays. Made for a nice quiet walk around the small shops and cute beach front cottages. I got down to the sand to walk the beach and my cellphone goes off in my pocket. Yep, took the phone this time because I was away from home and well, Kelly was in the hands of strangers. I’m rather fond of my jeep. She’s gotten me through some really rough times. She’s been dependable. And I’m not going to give up on her because she had a part run foul.
I digress. The call was from the dealer.
Seems the service desk scheduled two cars for the 10:00 slot. My car, which needed extensive work to replace the parts, was going to take longer than the two hours first quoted. I hadn’t expected to be in town for several hours or even the whole day. I was offered a loaner car for free and would be called when my Kelly was ready to be picked up. I figured that since they were offering a loaner the work was going to take all day. I accepted the loaner and drove back home knowing I wouldn’t get my car back until the next day. Instead of one day for car work, I was now looking at two. Good thing I was on vacation.
I drove home slowly in a car I was unsure of. I parked it in an open spot in the complex and not in my parking stall. That stall is reserved for my Kelly.
I worked a little on the manuscript but my heart wasn’t in it. I was depressed. I felt cheated. By 2:00p.m. I was back into the manuscript. I completed it as far as I could. I submitted the manuscript to the publisher. Gone.
I went to bed thinking about the rest of the vacation and how I might salvage it. I still wanted to go somewhere but now it would have to be close to home. The car repair ate up all the money I saved and then some. The rest of the vacation would have to be spent very close to home.
Day six. Good timing. The contract for the second book in the series was in the mailbox today. I signed it and then read where my publisher was going to have to close for a couple of days because of Hurricane Hermine. Here, we are having wet weather too because of a tropical storm. This one in the Pacific.
I headed south to pick up my jeep. It was raining when I arrived at the dealer and after paying the remainder of the repair costs I headed back north and home.
I stopped at a public parking lot in the middle of my own town and decided I needed a walk. I spent the early afternoon walking in the rain looking into store fronts I usually drive by and pay only the littlest attention. I talked to some of the shop owners and when they learned I was a local their tunes changed and their smiles became more genuine.
Tourism, the bread and butter of my town, is sometimes embraced and sometimes not. It’s cyclic. Some years we have wonderful tourist trade. Good mannered visitors who appreciate the slower pace of the town. Then there are those off years when the tourists are loud and ill mannered. More police sirens to stop the speeding cars. More petty theft. More vandalism on the beaches. And more trash. During the summer it’s usual to see locals carrying plastic bags on the beach to pick up after the tourists. Sad but true.
The sun came out around 4:00p.m. and it was warm and slightly humid. I headed for the sand.
I walked for a long time. Picking up little things to examine and then put them back down for others to see. Shells broken by the gulls, agates the color of sunset and driftwood carved by the storms and left high up on the beach. My apartment is adorned with some of these treasures.
I was home by 7. Hungry from the walk and pleasantly tired. Day six of nine and it was a good day.
Was going to wash Kelly today but it’s still drizzling. I’m a little angry with myself for not just taking off and driving up the coast or someplace inland. Today, I really feel the end of the vacation coming and I admit I am disappointed. I should have made a plan B. Or a plan C. I didn’t. Feel like I wasted the whole week. I’m sluggish today. Something I haven’t done all week I’m about to do. Sit on the couch and watch a movie.
Which turned into three movies. I could have read. I could have written. I could have walked. I didn’t. The day moved to night and I felt a deep regret.
Day eight. I didn’t get out of bed until mid morning. I’ve tried to keep upbeat about this vacation. After all, I couldn’t help what happened to the car. The money was well spent and she’ll run well again. Only, I don’t really feel upbeat. Still, I did rest. I did manage to put work behind me. Sure, it was replaced with other distractions, not all pleasant. I did manage to meet some nice shop owners. Carol, Tim, Linda, Bob, Bob, Hannah and Chris. I plan on stopping by their shops again in the off season when a friendly smile is needed to buoy a sluggish tourist trade. Perhaps karma intervened and I was supposed to have this side trip this year. Discovering the people who work and live in my town. If anything I was renewed with a sense of ownership of my little community. It has also renewed my desire to stop my commute and work closer to home. This is a seed that will take a while to find fruition. Work in a tourist community is closely tied to the whims of the economy as well as the weather. I’ll keep my eyes open.
Supper was fresh halibut steak. The sunset was muted today. The remnants of the tropical storm still hover over the coast.
I started the day at 8:00 a.m. My family back in California are backpacking in the Sierra this weekend. It’s the last real weekend to do this as the weather in the Sierra will change quickly to fall. Summer leaves the Sierra as quickly as it arrives.
I put together my lunches for the coming work week. It’s something I do on my last day off every week before returning to work. Today is no different. Work clothes are washed and hanging ready.
Some will see this vacation as a waste of time. Some will see it as a respite from a frenetic work schedule. I did accomplish some things I meant to do. I got those stories back out in circulation for others to read. I did finish a manuscript and sent it off to the publisher. I did sign a contract for that manuscript. I met new people and saw things in town I didn’t know were there. It wasn’t what I set out to do. I’m still restless. I still want to go somewhere. Do something. Tune out. Disconnect.
I’ll spend the afternoon updating a few things on social media. This will go to my blog. It will get emailed to a friend in Arizona. It will go into a digital journal. And hopefully, when I feel the need to read it again, I’ll remember not the broken plans for this vacation but the new friends I discovered.