My friend Ruth’s visit coincided with a week I had little planned and barely a deadline to meet in addition to a sudden realization about the big summer vacation I planned for la familia: it might just be hell. At the intersection of these insights and happenings, I stepped neatly into a staycation.
As for the big vacation, I have a tendency — akin to leemings jumping off the cliff to sea — to plan vacations that aren’t so much fun for me primarily because I choose places requiring long drives, close living quarters with ample family, and I have family members who rarely want to do what I want to do (take walks, make art, cook interesting meals and then write poetry about it). My children, even if young adult types, are expert squabblers too (although for our upcoming vacation, I’ve just about made each sign in blood that there will be no bloodshed). What I do get from family vacations are great stories to share with friends, the kinds of stories in which thunder claps just when everyone throws up on each other or squadrons of mosquitoes attack our heroine.
So a staycation is something founded on not having to empty multiple tanks of gas, not having to stand at fast food counters so weary I can’t decide if french fries are healthy because they’re made from a vegetable, and not having to tell Ken that we’ve made a terrible mistake in coming here, I’m utterly depressed, and we will never do another family vacation again.
Instead, Ruth and I went to the Flint Hills, ate fried chicken at the Hays House and pie at the Emma Chase Cafe, tried to stand up straight in 30 mph wind gusts, laughed a lot and drove home. We went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where we stared at photographs of miners in the 1860s west, laughed so hard at the creepy paintings of scary-looking cupids and half-naked women from the Baroque period that we almost fell over, and took photos of each other with a giant Boddhisattva statue from the 2nd century. We wandered Lawrence, worked out on exercise bikes and lounged in the hot tub at Body Boutique, got massages, ate big salads at the Eldridge, and caught part of the first summer band concert and all of the Art Tougeau parade. We partied at the Cosmic Beauty School and shopped at Checkers and the Merc. Today we’ll go to yoga class, thrift-store shopping, and then enjoy Game Night with friends coming over to play Apples to Apples while we all eat meatballs.
All in all, I’m ending this week refreshed, happy, light-hearted and very happy for the vacation-type weather that has moved in recently, and at this moment, watching the first hummingbird I’ve seen this year move across my line of vision, welcoming me home.