How Was Vacation?!

The youngest started playing ‘Baby Shark’ on her kazoo, so I thought I’d pop upstairs and tell you about the secret sushi food truck we found in Orlando.

A cement-block store near our hotel selling cheap Disney merch ($17 for a beach towel with Kylo Ren’s mask on it isn’t cheap but it was her money) has a kinda-classy food truck in the side lot. A fence hides it from the road. You’ve got to be in the lot or in the know. It’s a sweet set-up: wheeled rectangular box planters delineate the cozy eating area. Mexican-Japanese fusion rolls. Avocados. Latino EDM. Gentlemen so fresh my son called them “shiny.” That night we ate dinner at a Dominican restaurant down the street, feasting on Mofongo with arepa for dessert, but after dinner we employed the divide-and-conquer parenting technique: I took the two tired kids home to bed, and my husband took the Intrepid Explorer kid for a walk down to the secret sushi place, because how could we not?!  (they brought me back a lovely tempura roll.)

This is how we vacation, apparently. It was our first one, so we couldn’t predict how much fun we’d have. See a prickly pear cactus? Makes sense to scrub the spines off with a rock, slice it open, and eat the insides. Fire ants? No problem, brush them off and enjoy the adrenaline. We know what kind of scrape an alligator’s belly leaves in the sand, we saw dolphins in the wild, we got a sample of honey and an on-sale local IPA and no one got sunburned. At a rest stop in Georgia, I texted a friend: “We have stopped at ‘Peach World.’ We are buying the moonshine.” We stopped for citrus on the way home, too, and bought fresh oranges at the store that didn’t sell nudie souvenirs.

I was afraid that Florida wasn’t worried about my salvation, but I finally saw a billboard telling me to read my Bible, and felt much better.

Down south, the trees are leafed out, the nights are quiet enough for a dip in the hot tub, a light breeze keeps the bugs away, and mornings are cool enough for hot air balloons. A new season is spreading north, but I’m already there. Spring cleaning has seized me. The week we came back, I did nothing but laundry and unpacking and a Serious Sort through the children’s early-reader books in an attempt to pack them up for storage; I got three books in and vehemently decided I was not ready for those sweet memories to retire to the porch. I swapped out my winter clothes for my summer clothes (except for one really pretty green shirt which I didn’t even get to wear the whole day because I accidentally slopped raw corned beef juice on it.) Next, I managed to pry three stuffed animals out of the herd. But I won’t put away the pink, sparkly Mouse Ears or the doorstop made from hot glue and beach shells that was lovingly crafted for me while I was deep-cleaning the living room. I will save the Peach Mead for a special occasion (we already drank the ‘shine) and get the pictures off my phone and into a scrapbook. she said, confidently. And next year, when I find a bag full of shark teeth and attractive rocks, I will just smile and put it in a safe place.

I’m reading the new Frances Mayes book—the one where she and her husband and their 15 year-old grandson eat and drink and museum their way through Italy from top to bottom. They’ve got an Alfa Romeo instead of a minivan, but I love vicariously traveling through books and menus and microclimates. Vacation is about place. It’s an experience. But home is about life lived in moments so small you forget how shiny they are. Vacation made me more grateful to live where I live, to love whom I love, and to see what I see every day—the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Ps. 27:13) But I confess I’ve got a kind of wanderlust now that I know we can barrel through the little states, down the bumpy Pennsylvania highway, and into states with the wrong kind of cows. Everyone is in charge of their own water bottle! We could go anywhere! But for now we’ll be here, dreaming of “anywhere” and remembering the carp at the botanical gardens. It was a really big carp. It was maybe as big as a baby gator.

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