Friday, February 08, 2008


Leaving Mexico to head back into the frigid nastiness of a Chicago February, it ocurred to me just how much a vacation is like a metaphor for life itself.

It starts when you arrive. You are walking through the terminal, pasty and happy and you notice the tan and sad faces walking toward their planes to take them back to somewhere grey and brown like Pittsburgh and you feel self-righteous with a conceit similar to that of youth. They're so stupid to have planned their vacation earlier than yours. You are superior to them because just as their journey ends your journey is beginning.

When you arrive at the hotel, everyone is glad to see you. Happy you are here, in their world to remind them of the circle of life. Out with the old, in with the new. The bell-hop, the desk-clerk, the concierge, and yes the timeshare salespeople are all so very happy to see your pasty white, newborn face.

Things go well at first, time does not go too quickly, and you are enjoying this new place so much. Delighted to find the little soaps and shampoos, the various charms of the resort (ooh, look swings instead of stools at the bar!), the pool is so big!

Midway through the vacation a small depression sets in. You realize that your time here is half over--no matter how you look at it you are getting closer to the end of your vacation and a slight shadow falls over you.

By the last evening, you are nearly gloomy. You try to make it your "best night yet" but in your heart and the hearts of your traveling companions you all know that this is indeed the last supper.

The next morning as you pack your bags and leave your final tips and wait for hospice, I mean the shuttle bus, you are much more quiet than when you arrived. You and your traveling mate will make an attepmt to recall the good times but you are already focused on the transition into the next world. Will you go peacefully or will you go painfully with airport delays and no coffee?

As you walk through the airport, you see the pasty faces of the new arrivals and you are resentful. How dare they be starting their vacation as yours ends? Your feet, after a week in flip-flops, now weighed down by mid-western, winter shoes, are dragging and you imagine that one of the new arrivals just shouted, "Dead man walking!"

But wait, never fear, all is not lost. As you board the plane and settle into your seat crammed next to the large man from Elgin who is about to tell you why he hates Hilary Clinton, you notice the in-flight magazine and pull it from your pocket. You turn to your spouse as you flip through the pages and you say, "Okay, where are we taking our next vacation."

For all of life, even vacation life, is a circle my friend.

Keep the flip-flops handy.

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