While I definitely spent most of last week supine on various surfaces along the Central Coast of California, rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.
It had been I-Don't-Know-How-Long since I took a resting vacation. Christmas didn't count; for as much (frozen) fun as I had in Chicago, I had things I had to do as well. Resting vacation, to me, means no agenda other than no agenda; the point is not only to shift from the usual to the unusual, but to downshift significantly, which in my case usually means no to-do list, lots of rest and no electronics, save the recreational kind (and I'm talking video and audio playback devices, kids, so get your minds out of the gutter).
Of course, I dragged along enough Relaxation Aids for year-long sabbatical: three books and a clutch of articles torn from old Vanity Fair (visions of me catching up on my reading); guitar and mandolin (visions of me & The Boyfriend having a hootenanny on the motel balcony); my sketchbook; a notebook; and, between me & The B.F., a stack of DVDs that would make the check-in clerk at Blockbuster break into a cold sweat.
This, of course, is the grown-up equivalent of lugging home all your textbooks for spring break: if you don't have them, you'll feel their absence keenly; if you do, you can leave them to molder away in the corner, untouched, with blithe disregard.
We slept...a lot. We ate...a lot less than we do at home, actually, and far better. We met up with some friends I made on my last trip up the coast. In short, gentle reader, we did for five days what I've learned I must do more of all the time: not much of anything, and only when we felt like it.
Some rest easily and often. Cats are notoriously good at this, I've noticed; small babies, too, before they start to suspect that perhaps they're missing out on some madcap adult hilarity when they hit the hay (note to kids: you are, but don't worry: there's more where that came from, and the cultural references will be funnier when it's your at-bat).
I had always hoped that when I left my 9-to-5, I'd leave my workaholic tendencies along with it, but no such luck. While I've gotten a mite better at carving out rest time since my epiphany, I'm a long, long way from being zenmistress of anything. Besides, I actually like to work; it's no hardship for me to spend hours/days/weeks plugging away at the thing I love. One of the things The BF (who shares my love of work, among other things) and I discussed was whether there were ways to thread rest through work, or work through rest, more efficiently than we have done to date. Going offsite seems to offer a greater opportunity to work well, but not non-stop. A stripped-down laptop and rental condo provide the necessary tools without the customary distractions, which, in turn (theoretically, anyway), are replaced by new attractions that might prove restorative: a beach to walk between three-hour work jags; a grocery store you can't shop on autopilot; a restaurant to repair to after a workday that actually ends rather than bleeding into the next calendar day.
Because if resting vacation is no agenda whatsoever, vacation itself is a shift from the ordinary, a modified agenda, or one's usual agenda, relocated. And that can mean anything from a hedonistic sun-and-fun junket to working at a coffee shop on the other side of town (with your cell phone turned off, if you usually leave it on). I've returned from an afternoon of the latter better rested than I have from a week of the former, and not just because I burn easily. I think I probably require more rest than I'm willing to admit to myself, and (for those on modest budgets, anyway) it's easier stolen in small chunks here and there, 90 minutes at the movies, a couple of hours at a museum, a work-week's time in a nearby cheap motel, than it is in expensive two-week increments.
It's also easier to justify when cost is low and/or tax-deductible, and if there's one thing that has no place on a vacation, it's guilt.
Still, every so often in the off-season, when the crowds are thin and the rates are low, it's nice to nothing much at all. Next (rest) stop: Palm Springs.
In August, of course. And maybe on assignment...