Go on Vacation. And Stay There.

Morning Coffee 08.01.15
Morning Coffee 08.01.15

In 2006, under the influence of great naiveté and a dose of Mother Teresa-esque desire to change the world, I ran for City Council and County Board. When I lost the election that Spring, my friend Jake had an idea. Go on vacation. To Key West.

That trip was my saving grace in the midst of significant disappointment. We landed in Key West to see Meryl Streep and her daughter awaiting a flight in the modest airport. (In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten a photo with the woman whose beauty transcends time.) From there, we took a cab to the Seashell Motel and the lone hostel on the island. The hostel had been my go-to spot for many a trip to Hemingway’s former home, a refuge from life’s storms. A random smattering of international kids and homeless twenty-somethings sit on the picnic tables in the gathering area. Admittedly the distinction between the two populations is fuzzy at best.

Each day was spent wandering the streets, initiated with a burn-your-mouth-hot Café Con Leche from Sandy’s Café and scrounging meals together with grocery store snacks. I don’t remember a lot of details beyond that. Other than buying matching Cuba hats, Jake smoking a giant cigar and splurging on one fancy Italian dinner one night at Abbondanza. But I DO remember returning to northeast Wisconsin, still lost in the aura of vacation.

When I arrived home, I flipped the switch to vacation mode daily at 5 PM and on the weekends. After work, I went for a run at various parks throughout the community, ending with sprints at the nearest elementary school football field. I found a local bar on the Fox River and had a beer at sunset, listening to the Sunday night reggae band perform. Instead of working Saturdays, which I had taken to doing, I hit the Farmer’s Market to buy giant bouquets of flowers for my apartment, and dine on egg rolls, crab rangoon and sunflower sprouts for breakfast.

As far as investing in your own longevity, I imagine an apple a day is a pretty good idea. But I would argue for implementing the regular mini-vacation as well.

As I’ve said before, lessons evolve in cycles in life until the various iterations take root in my being. So although this lesson hatched in 2006, it reemerged a few years ago when I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I learned about the Artist’s Date, a weekly endeavor you treat yourself to in order to experience life fully and inspire creativity.

So that is what I am doing. After this blog post, which is arguably a vacation in itself.

Vermont Fly Fishing
Vermont Fly Fishing

Anxious to leave on my next vacation in about an hour, I’ll wrap this up. My summer vacation lasted from July 10-19 this year, including a long weekend in Vermont, a week at my mom’s farm and culminating with the hilarity and merriment that is Pulaski Polka Days.

This weekend I am left to my own defenses, with my boys on their own adventures. I hemmed and hawed about the weekend’s festivities, considering cleaning the house, getting a massage or enjoying my favorite pretzel and mustard encrusted dinner from the neighborhood supper club. After a night of Netflix and a frozen pot pie last night, all of those options were deemed unsuitable.

Instead, the great north woods is calling me on a whim. A night at a divine bed and breakfast (the last bed they had) and indulging in both days of the Wabeno Art & Music Festival.

Time off goes too fast. And we lament returning to real life. Turning that mindset on its head a bit, I think I can manage squeezing my work days into an ongoing vacation.

Are you living the life you chose
Are you living the life that chose you

– Jason Isbell


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