You know the feeling, I suspect. For months, you plan and look forward to a vacation—whether it’s a full-blown trip or a quick driveaway—and you can’t wait for the rest and relaxation that comes with it. And then you get home exhausted. You need a vacation after the vacation.
That’s how it has been for my husband, Les, and me in the aftermath of an almost-weeklong getaway to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Our fun getaway started with the Jimmy Buffett concert that we bought tickets for way back in 2019, before the entire world stalled to a halt because of COVID. It was the first time Les had seen a Buffett show, and we had a fun time, even imagining how we might plan next time to do some hardcore tailgating on par with some of the other “Parrotheads” we encountered in the parking lot. The tropical vibe of the evening seemed like the perfect introduction to a few days of relaxing at the beach, and we couldn’t wait!
The countdown to our getaway was expected to coincide with completion of our master bath remodel project, which started in mid-March, and we looked forward to coming home for a nice, hot shower in our beautiful new space. But, well, that didn’t happen. Getting a straight answer about the timeline of the project hasn’t been difficult, but getting a true answer has, and we ordered the work suspended during our vacation because the ruckus is very stressful for our pets. But at least we would have a break from the noise and commotion that has consumed our home for the past six weeks.
We kept our eye on the prize—a peaceful escape to a rental home we’ve enjoyed before, and we yearned for the calm, quiet rest that awaited us. We’d sip wine or bourbon every evening and enjoy unadulterated views of the beach from our oceanfront deck, and we’d slumber with the sliding glass door cracked a few inches, allowing the calming sound of waves crashing ashore to invade our dreams, with no alarm clock set and no pets clamoring for 3 a.m. potty breaks.
Only it didn’t quite happen that way.
Nobody mentioned to us—and when I say nobody, I mean the rental company that happily took our money for the condo stay—that the federal government had funded a significant renourishment project along the coastline we were visiting, or that the work would occur all day and all through the night, with the incessant beep-beep-beep that signals the backup of heavy equipment, and a constant clanging of enormous, rust- and barnacle-covered pipes that spanned the beach directly in front of our rental and down the beach as far as the eye could see.
This is important work. The renourishment is necessary for preservation of the beachfront, not just for the enjoyment of tourists, but for the conservation of the coast and the ecosystem around it. We could deal with this for a day or two. At least we would enjoy dinner in nearby Wilmington and walking the boardwalk and grabbing a Britt’s donut—a must-have when you are in Carolina Beach (except, they were closed). And we could still enjoy our planned beach day. Thank goodness we had arranged for an umbrella rental, which they promised to place in a safe spot. Well, kind of.
I’m not complaining; I’m just pointing out the irony of our “getting away” to a new place with equal-or-greater commotion than what we left at home. Yep, it was still full-on ruckus, only with a change of venue. We did enjoy some incredible food (and drinks), and I look forward to recreating some of that—and sharing it with you in the months ahead.
The whole “vacation” experience reminds me of our wedding day, which was the basis for our celebration now, five years later. Les and I were supposed to be married outside, beneath a sweet little white pergola at the entrance of our neighborhood. The homeowner’s association even moved up the date for painting the thing so it would be fresh and perfect for our big day and our very small wedding party of five (plus us and the rabbi). But you know what they say about the best-laid plans, right?
On that day, we threw together a last-minute plan to exchange vows in the loft of our home, a decision that led to some precious and humorous moments with our pets, who decided they should be in on the action. At the end of that day, we were married, so we accomplished the main thing. Everyone assured us that rain on your wedding day is “good luck,” which is some brand of Southern nonsense that falls easily out of the mouths of people whose weddings were not rained out. Les said the wedding day weather was apropos, because life ahead would bring plenty of storms, so this was just good practice. We had a lovely time with friends and family despite it all, and we still think of our special day when we climb the stairs up to the seldom-used room.
I’m convinced that amid the curveballs that come at us all the way through life, we either get better or worse at rolling with the punches, and we get to decide which it will be. I’m grateful to be married to a man who has perfected the art of “let it go,” thankful for the experiences we share—rain and ruckus and all—and if a vacation turns out to be simply a change of venue in which to experience the chaos of life, well, I guess that’s a blessing, too.