It’s Not A Vacation

It sounds like a vacation. Camping in the White Mountains, drinking champagne and making s’mores, waiting an hour to eat a meatball sub, hiking in the pristine forest, munching granola bars in the middle of a stream, swimming in a cold, clear lake, stargazing by the dying fire and browsing local wilderness stores for forgotten necessities like FireRibbon(TM), a highly flammable substance that “squeezes out like toothpaste” and is guaranteed to send even damp wood wooshing up in flames, a claim that was, sadly, an exaggeration.

However, as I was quick and emphatic to point out, it wasn’t a vacation. Vacations are what the poor slobs who work for the man take, spending a paltry two, maybe four percent of their lives in forced relaxation in a little box of a hotel room, before they return to the box of their office to spend ninety-six, maybe niney-eight percent of their lives in forced labor. Vacations are so rare that the most common desire most people seem to have while on them is to “do nothing.” Vacations are loops outside time, isolated moments of imposed joy in lives otherwise lived under flourescent lighting or in highway traffic or under flourescent lighting after driving through highway traffic, shopping at franchise box stores. (Full disclosure: number of franchise box stores we visited on the way to our non-vacation: 4.) Vacations are insanely expensive and require miserly saving to pay large amounts of money to “do nothing” or worse, experience made-up pageants of various locales–New York City! (midtown, bus tour, Statue of Liberty, Cricle Line), wilderness! (trained bear show, “scenic overlook,” maple syrup shack), tropical paradise! (deadly UV rays, strategically placed hedges to hide unseemly poverty, stupid jewelry and/or hair accessories). We, I maintained, were not on vacation. We were just living our actual lives, which this weekend happened to entail camping in the White Mountains. Besides, how could we be on vacation when we were here observing all the ways everyone else was on vacation? We were not on vacation. We had just “gone somplace else.” The only way you can be on vacation is if you’ve made the mistake of not gearing your life around the goal of being on vacation all the time.

The previous weekend I took my boyfriend on a long-promised pilgrammage to Coney Island. Upon arrival, we immediately rode the Cyclone. The Cyclone for me has gone the way of many things I found initially thrilling and subsequently addictive–I have ridden it so much that it no longer holds quite the same thrill.

A fat guy with a headset was halfheartedly trying to entince passerby to Shoot the Freak. “Hey, come on,” he rasped. “You’re at Coney Island. Ya here to have fun. So have some fun. Go ahead, swim in that filthy water. Wait in line for a half an hour for a hot dog. And then come over here and shoot a guy in the freakin’ head.”

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