You know how when a song gets stuck in your head, and you realize it’s there because it’s somehow expressing some deep, hidden emotions?
What about when every time you turn on the radio, the same tune is magically, and perhaps a bit ominously, playing?
In the past two days, I’ve heard “Vacation,” by the Go-Gos no less than 10 times. By the time it came blaring over the system in my dermatologist’s office, I was ready to fall on the ground and scream, “FINE! You’ve got the damn beat, now leave me alone!”
Summertime is clearly all about vacation time. Our internal clock is set to “School’s Out for Summer,” and doesn’t recalibrate until, “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” or maybe even, “Another Brick in the Wall.”
But it’s a cruel, cruel summer… now that youth is gone. (That’s the lyric, right?) The gerbil wheel of duty, obligation, and responsibility never stops spinning, and little things like doing laundry, cooking meals, getting dressed for work, and even waking up (before you go-go — sorry, couldn’t resist!) is hard as hell.
And you can fetishize vacation all you want, but now that I’m 15 years into this parenting gig, I’m way more real about what vacations are all about. I mean, did we learn nothing about the predictable stress and angst involved with family road trips from movies like Vacation and European Vacation, and TV shows like The Brady Bunch’s Season Four two-part classic, “Hawaii-bound”/”Pass the Tabu”? From Wally World to tarantula bites and Tiki curses, to the reality that vacation is kinda like being at home, except that it’s even more infuriating and complicated as you have to get used to someone else’s kitchen/bedroom/laundry room, vacation isn’t always all that.
And then there’s this: everyone always needs a vacation from the family vacation.
Lucky for all of us, since 2009, even Merriam-Webster recognizes that there is a better word and way: staycation. The key thing for your to know is that you can have your staycation moment wherever you want, whenever you want, for how ever long you can muster taking a break from the grind.
Here are a few ways to take a break and go to Carolina in your mind:
1) Want to be waited on, hand and foot? There’s an app for that: If you are jonesin’ for room service, keep in mind that Grubhub delivers, if not on a tray, and the damn Amazon Fresh trucks are ubiquitous on my street corner. Sick and tired of doing laundry? Download Washio. Wanna go out for a leisurely night of dinner and drinks, but don’t want to wrassle with driving home? Grab an Uber. And just when you thought housekeeping was only just a dream, download the Merry Maids app and stick a “Maid, Clean my Room(s)” tag on your virtual door.
2) Light a candle: My summer obsession is Jonathan Adler’s “Jet Set” Collection. From New Havana (“tobacco, smoke, leather, oak wood, amber, and hints of patchouli and moss”) to Big Sur (“crisp bergamot, rich vetiver, warm cedar wood, and nutmeg”) and Capri (“crisp citrus, herbs, notes of woods, moss, and musk”), you can sit on your ass and enjoy the gorgeous scents of summertime travel.
3) Take in the sights: For weeks now, my Facebook feed has been full of friends enjoying glorious sunsets, ocean breezes, street food in far flung places, cool dips in the pool, historic sightseeing, and sumptuous seafood meals — all a sensual assault that could make lesser staycationers jealous. Me, I look at the pics, close my eyes, and transport myself into those worlds through the Zen of it all. And my credit card bill is no less worse for the wear — take that, vacationers!
4) When in doubt, rub it out: I don’t know about you, but in my town there are cheap-o “foot” massages on every corner, excellent mani/pedi peeps with exceptionally magic hands, and gift cards to spas given to me for birthdays or other what do I get mom days that just tend to gather dust because who has time for a day devoted to being massaged like veal? The answer is, my staycationing friend, YOU DO. Go, get rubbed, and if anyone offers you a happy ending… take it.
5) Do Not Disturb: Tell the kids, draw the blackout curtains, lock your bitch (or cat or partner) out and sleep in with abandon. All it takes is giving yourself permission, and forcing everyone else to comply.
6) Have a piña colada for breakfast. And if anyone asks what’s in your travel mug, you can legitimately say, “iced coconut water”… and maybe even start a new health-nut trend. (On a side note, I so don’t get coconut water. To me, it tastes like watered down suntan oil. So if you want the taste of vacation without all the calories, I suppose that will do the trick, too.)
7) Dine (or drink) out: Is there a Mexican joint you’ve been meaning to try? A new sushi place on the corner? Where’s the nearest bar with a pretty outdoor patio strung with little lights and fragrant with summer flowering plants? Stop postponing joy and pony up for a nice dinner. And make it on a Tuesday so it feels really decadent.
8) Escape from it all in movies and books: From Summer Lovin’ (Grease) to Dirty Dancing and Meatballs there’s a place where you can have the (summer)time of your life without leaving your couch. And if reading’s more your bailiwick, search on GoodReads or do a Google scan for the best books of summer. Some of my faves this year (not only from my summer reading) include Where’d You Go Bernadette (Maria Semple), The Interestings (Meg Wolitzer), The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt), Love Life (Rob Lowe, my ex-boyfriend from 1982, where he was featured prominently in my high school locker — turns out he’s a talented raconteur!) and The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty).
9) Take a class: Speaking of Dirty Dancing, isn’t it time you learned how to mambo? Took that Spanish Cooking class over at the Mall in your favorite kitchenware store (i.e., Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table)?
10) Go Outside: I know it sounds basic, but sometimes we forget. This was a REAL exchange I had with my husband the other day when we took a walk together and the thick, warm air smelled like jasmine, a faint ocean breeze, and hamburgers on the barbecue:
ME: WOW. It smells like summer.
HUSBAND: That’s because it IS summer.
So if you’re pulling out of town for your summer vacation and catch a glimpse of me stopping to smell the roses with a coconut-scented travel mug in hand, don’t feel bad. Because now that you’re away, I honestly don’t wish you’d stayed.. in my book, staycations are meant to be spent alone.
Safe travels (even if it’s to your own couch!)