Home again, home again, jiggity jig

“Curve Road And Blue Sky” by seaskylab, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Curve Road And Blue Sky” by seaskylab, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my heart of hearts I know that if vacations lasted forever they wouldn’t be vacations. But that wouldn’t be so bad, would it? Even though I typed my way through four states in the past couple of weeks–so I wasn’t 100% “on vacation”–there’s something about getting away from home for a while that makes me thrilled to just keep on living. Vacations are so refreshing. Kind of like spending a night curled up with a box of chocolates, a Matthew McConaughey DVD and a glass of merlot.

Then there’s getting home to reality.

Reality is a huge stack of junk mail, which I feel obligated to read.

Reality is wondering why we packed enough luggage to clothe a third-world nation, thus leaving me with a ginormous pile of laundry, which I feel obligated to wash.

Reality is a refrigerator full of moldy food, which I should have thrown out a week ago.

The air in the house is stale, and the counters littered with vacation pocket detritus. Why did I scrawl the words “traveler’s knee” on this scrap of paper? Could I not hear those stupid rocks screaming “Tourist trap, hide your wallet!” the first time I looked at them? Did I really need to keep a half-eaten lint-covered Starlight Mint in my jeans for the past 2,000 miles?

Coming home is hard.

But crawling into my own bed feels as natural as hibernating into a favorite cave for the winter. Unlike the random sleeping quarters of the past week, the mattress remembers my form and rewards me with a cozy hug.

I slept that night like I’ve never slept before, for an amazing ten straight hours.

Coming home is great.

Koss greets me in the morning with a big smile and a huge hug. Amazingly, our family survived eight days of constant contact without a single blow-up. A few snippy moments, but that’s pretty normal. Arriving home relatively unscathed by my relatives is something to celebrate.

Though I am a little irked when, after spending thousands of dollars on a vacation and driving thousands of miles on the road, he says his favorite part of the Grand Canyon was using the hotel key cards.

My jeans feel a bit tight from my adult road trip diet. Sure, I’ve outgrown the corn nuts, Slurpees and jerky-like substances of my teen years, but I still had too many French Fries, lattes, and glasses of wine.

Coming home is awful.

A billion emails await me the next morning at work.

Problems I hoped would go away have merely expanded to fit the number of days that have gone by. I shouldn’t have told anyone I’d be home till the weekend. Maybe if I don’t answer the phone…but I’ve got a zillion phone messages, mostly from Blockbuster.

And I’ve got a kajillion things to do, including servicing the car, which ran wonderfully until the last seven miles of our 2,000-mile trip.

It turns out to be an expensive last seven miles. My spirits are replenished by the trip, but my bank account is empty. Still, it was a great trip. Traveling with Zak and Koss is always an adventure into the great unknown. Each new phase of his maturity comes without warning, so I’m never sure how he’s going to behave from road trip to road trip. Same with Koss. One summer he was napping through five-hour car trips and the next it was, “Are we there yet?” “I’m hungry,” and “Are we there yet?” every two seconds.

This trip he read books the whole time, yet somehow he still managed to entertain us with his loud singing and randomly silly jokes, all the while skillfully avoiding exposure to any of that pesky scenery that his dad and I find so appealing.

It’s hard to come home, but they say all good things must come to an end–unfortunately, that includes vacations.

Whether she likes it or not, Leslie is home, mostly on her computer at email. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.com. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on April 11, 2008.