I am my father's daughter and not a natural vacationer. Unlike Dad, I have total access to the office from just about everywhere. Actually, not being a wilderness type, I have access from everywhere. This is a mixed blessing. My father always had a big staff to man the ship. Even so, despite his compulsive frugality Dad would even make pricey ship-to-shore calls to check in with the office on a daily basis. Times change and now the staff is tiny. I am the only real administrator so I try to stay online during business hours. A few years ago I drove one of the most beautiful stretches of Northern California suffering through endless cell phone negotiations with an impossible customer. This trip I get word of a threatened lawsuit. While my dad never really modeled getting away from the office and purely relaxing, he did teach me not to be afraid of attorneys. I've had many decades of experience with legal letters. Nothing will come of the recent one except my irritation at the instigator's churlishness. Nevertheless, it is difficult, even in the middle of sylvan redwoods to stop myself from chewing over the wording of my response.
We visit the little cabin in Mount Hermon several times a year and while I choose to remain in touch with the office, the rest of the agenda is limited pretty much to shopping for provisions, preparing meals, hanging with close friends who live next door, reading and walking in the forest. The cabin feels like our own. We know where everything is and have an arrival routine-remove all artificial flowers from sight, reorganize pots and pans and unplug the carbon dioxide monitor so I can plug in my laptop. I have mastered the quirky stove and know where the plushest towels are stored. The best thing is the weekends when I don't have to monitor the office. I sleep late and luxuriate in the prospect of a day without a single thing I have to do.
We do venture out this trip for a Richard Thompson concert in Santa Cruz. Thompson is a guitarist's guitarist and wonderful songwriter. He came on the scene with Fairport Convention in1967. He left the band in 1971. I think he is most well known for this affiliation, although he's had very respectable solo career. I provide these dates here to clarify for the reader the demographic we encounter at the show. There were a couple of families with kids or maybe grand kids but ninety percent of the crowd is older than we are, but by just a smidgen. There's a sea of white hair. Indian skirts, Birkenstalks and embroidered shirts. Signs of recent knee replacement surgery.
I am weirded out by being so weirded out by the oldness of the Richard Thompson crowd. It is a scene from some wacky 1960s skit about where old hippies go to die. I experience a sensation similar to when I check out my high school class page on Facebook. Everyone looks so friggin' old. Despite compelling evidence-my skin looks different and suddenly my eyebrows have gone white-I cannot accept that I am the same age as the Richard Thompson concert goers or my fellow Grant High School alumni. It guess it is normal to deny our mortality but maybe my reluctance to accept that my days are indeed numbered distracts me from getting the most out of them.
Some sort of serenity would make the decay of my body more tolerable but I am still distracted by small problems, blown way out of proportion. I know that the irritations that cause me to toss and turn and wake up in the middle of the night will be resolved. My health is good. My husband loves me. My kids aren't delinquents. I have over 200 friends on Facebook and I even know some of them. Millions of people would trade my problems for their own. At age 55 I've honed the discipline to be careful about my diet, keep the momentum going on writing projects and exercise just about everyday. But, I still don't have the self control to keep small annoyances from tamping down my carpe diem spirit. While my late mother has been knocked around a bit in this blog, she gave me good advice about coping with anxiety. Mom always encouraged me to make a list of all of my worries and stash it away to be read in six months. Inevitably, after half a year passes these troubles are long forgotten.
The last couple days of our visits to the Redwoods are sort of wistful. Finally we wash the linens and towels, scrub the floors, put the artificial flowers back on view, replace the carbon monoxide detector and lock up. I hold back tears but we listen to good music or books on tape on the drive back and before we know it we arrive at home. The kids are stretched out on the couch and the TV is blaring. They've tried to keep things in decent order but it will be weeks before a number of kitchen utensils resurface.
I am unpacked and caught up on the mail within an hour and the vacation is over. While there are no redwood vistas, it is usually breezy on Mount Washington and we have verdant views from every window. The jacaranda and gardenias are in bloom. The cats laze indolently on the deck. The dogs are happier to see us than the kids. Sentimental knickknacks acquired during our twenty years in the house cram the shelves. While we fantasize that the little cabin is our own, when I can separate from the anxieties pertinent to maintaining and paying for our house, I love the space that we don't have to pretend is ours.
We'll return to the redwoods in a couple of months. I've made my list. I know indeed that in six months the trifles that dog me now will most likely be forgotten. I am one of the crowd at the Richard Thompson concert and I am an alumni of the Grant High class of 1975. The list I make in six month's time might well have concerns that are not insignificant or resolvable in six months, or a lifetime. I will refrain from french fries and drag my tired ass out of bed at the crack of dawn to trudge through the hills. I will keep myself manacled to my computer every Friday until there are some words I am not embarrassed to have read. I have always been a worrier though. I guess the best I can expect is that having averred the futility of this I will be more mindful and not let petty concerns obscure the sweetness of the cabin, my real home and my family. Note to self: Vacation is just a state of mind.