A few post-vacation epiphanies

By Caitlin Kelly

The very best vacations — yes, always a luxury! — return us to normal life with some fresh ideas and insights, some new ways of thinking or behaving.

Maybe we tried a new form of exercise (hiking, biking, surfing, snorkel or scuba, kayaking).

Maybe some new foods.

Maybe we altered our daily rhythms, getting up much earlier to savor sunrise and cooler temperatures or staying up really late to enjoy local nightlife.

My month away, solo, driving coastal California, gave me much-needed solitude but also some fantastic opportunities to get to know my friends better, through long conversations, un-rushed, over a good meal or just sitting in the shade.

The best decision I made — and one I am keeping up now that I’m home: much less exposure to the news, especially the useless national nightly news on. American television which (apart from the PBS Newshour) is a tedious and predictable gorefest of violence and sticky sentimentality.

I didn’t watch TV news or listen to radio news once and my mood and outlook are much improved!

Yes, the world is going to hell. I do know that.

But marinating in it every day isn’t doing me any good either.

If it’s that crucial I will see it (and do) on Twitter.

I didn’t expect to, but I fell hard for California, and was checking real estate prices everywhere, both for purchase (hopeless!) and rentals, and am now looking for a way to rent for a month or more in L.A. and maybe also in Monterey, my two favorites.

I dropped my normal routines of spin class two to three times a week, and that felt good.

I’ve always hoped to retire to France, probably only part-time, so this new love of California is interesting — but French real estate, depending on the area, is so much more affordable, (and the euro is now on par with the U.S. dollar.) So we’ve got pleasant decisions at some point.

My best takeaway was just being out there all alone for a month. I’ve been traveling the world alone since I spent four months, at 22, visiting Portugal, Italy, France and Spain (most of it in Spain and Portugal.) It’s never scared me and I’ve never had a bad experience despite people insisting I’m “brave” to travel alone at length as a woman.

Refreshing my much-valued sense of independence was a great joy — but so was the lovely home and husband awaiting my return!

I hope you’ll all be able to take a restorative break.

18 thoughts on “A few post-vacation epiphanies

  1. Dave Holzman

    Your account was refreshing and inspiring.
    There’s a part of me that regrets having left Berkeley after I graduated. I had a professor who wanted me to work with him, and someone in on office where I went every day when I had gotten back for senior year, because a class I needed supposedly didn’t have room for me, and I was just checking every day to see if the problem was solved (it eventually was, as I fully expected it would be). He was impressed with my equanimity in the face of bureaucratic problems, and I had confidence in the bureaucracy.
    I also remember the joy of watching the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the Upper Level Cafe, drinking espresso and talking to people.
    But I’m not sure I’d want to be in California now, as I suspect the heat and fires are just going to keep getting worse for the rest of my life.
    France–that’s another story. I don’t know. But I do want to get back there for a week or two, so that my French will be fluent again, and because I miss the place.
    But I’d hoped this spring to drive leisurely out to Seattle, and down the coast probably just to the Bay Area, before retracing routes we’d taken when I was 4, and 8. I don’t remember seeing the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City when I was 4, but I do remember remembering seeing it, and I remember seeing it at 8. And I remember how narrow Colorado 40 was, the main route between Salt Lake City and Denver, well, that’s partly because I took a photo looking west about half way from the Utah border to Steamboat Springs. And I remember thinking our car was going to fall off of the road because when I looked out over the right front fender, all I could see was the valley far below.
    I’m glad to read of your vacation, and I’m glad to read of your joy at seeing your home and husband once again.

    1. Lots of memories! I agree that California has a lot of environmental issues to cope with…But I finally understand now, in a way I didn’t before, why people have such a deep attachment to the place.

      1. Dave Holzman

        I’ve always understood that deep attachment. I also have a (relatively) high concentration of friends in the Bay Area. But it was nicer when it was less heavily populated. Menlo Park was once a haven for artists and writers, and I lived in Perry Lane, the two block street with the big live oak in the middle of it, the summer of ’57, a year before Ken Kesey lived on that street. About a decade ago or maybe more, I looked up number 2 (the tiny cottage we lived in that summer) on Zillow. I was shocked to find it was worth 1.2 million. Then I noticed it had been built in the early ’00s. Our cottage had been torn down. (And given the proximity to Sand Hill Road, that was not surprising.) I knew I would never set foot on that street again.

        Still, having been in Berkeley as recently as ’15, I could easily see living there, although I probably couldn’t afford it.

  2. California sounds wonderful, I’m glad you were able to return refreshed and renewed. šŸ™‚ Good breaks are so important for taking stock. My week with my boyfriend in Corfu in May was incredibly restorative. All my stress just melted away with the sun, relaxed pace (eating dinner at 10 or 11 pm every night, on Greek time) and hiking almost every day through olive groves, stopping off for a late lunch at seaside tavernas. I love the smell of the maquis there, if only it could be possible to bottle it!

    Now back to daily life and its pressures — my mother broke her right arm / wrist badly this week so I’ve had to return home to care for her, alongside the pressures of my job and the last six months of writing my Master’s thesis. My brother will do what he can to help, but it does always feel there is an expectation from my other siblings that as the youngest daughter and the one without children, I will be the one to drop everything and step in!

    1. I am very eager to get to Corfu…sounds idyllic.

      Get on your brothers to help!!!! I have the same issue with mine — and it only stops if you insist they step up. You are already overloaded.

  3. I would like a restorative break at some point. However, right now I’m busy unpacking, as I just moved into my first home that I own, a condo I closed on last month. I’ve been busy this week trying to unpack and make any immediate repairs/renovations as necessary (caulked the tub, my first time caulking anything). And on Monday, I return to work once the Internet is installed (my provider should have done it already, but they screwed up). With the time I’ve taken off for the move, it might be some time before I can take a break, though I’m always hopeful I will be able to in the near future. I’m already thinking of places I want to go.

  4. it’s amazing how time away from our everyday lives can put things in a totally new perspective. I think that’s a hope for travel, that we’d return somehow changed for the better, in ways we never expected. a wonderful bonus

  5. What a beautiful photo of Morro Bay! We just completed our move from San Francisco Bay Area to Virginia and during that insane week the news was the furthest thing from my mind and I didn’t miss it one bit. If it’s important I’ll find out. It’s easy to stay informed. Meanwhile, adjusting to a new time zone means all my news ‘shows’ are on three hours later…well past my bedtime. Makes it really, really easy to say goodnight to the nightly news.

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