Remember those first days of school, when the teacher asked you to write about your summer vacation? Did you focus on the days at the pool? The hours riding your bike aimlessly? Maybe your family drove for hours and hours to camp in mosquito-filled woods where the frog hums kept you up every night.
As I thought about my week vacation at the shore, Erma Bombeck came to mind. She found humor in the everyday calamities of life. Here’s a short synopsis of “what I did on my summer vacation.”
- Beginning at 4 a.m., my daughter drove her old (ie: messy and quite used) SUV filled with suitcases, cooler, sheets/towels, one 10-year-old boy, and me to “beat the traffic.” (Her husband drove the cleaner sedan with their two other children and three other suitcases.)
- B U T, daughter’s SUV seemed to have attracted an animal that died during the night in some hidden recess. As soon as we began our journey, our nostrils were accosted with a scent of, well, let’s just say it was horribly offensive. For seven hours.
- We were able to keep the windows open for the first three hours of the journey, but as the temps rose to 80 and above, the air conditioning was turned on full blast. For three minutes. Until the smell was so bad we all began gagging. Fan/AC off as the temps rose to 90 and we kept windows wide open on the truck-filled Garden State Parkway. Wheeeeeee.
- Arrived at the New Jersey seashore, a family summer tradition. The condo had a lovely view of the ocean, the kids established whose room was whose, and my granddaughter and I (who shared a small room with twin beds) happily unpacked and then raced to put our feet in the surf. We all fell into bed by 10, exhausted from body surfing on the warm Atlantic Ocean waters. Heaven!
- Until a scream interrupted my sweet dreams at 2 a.m. Granddaughter (11) talked in her sleep! Every night! Loudly! In a foreign language that has never been uttered before on this planet. She happily returned to soundless sleep within five minutes. Me? Not so much.
- I walked the beach every morning by 6:15 to watch the sunrise as the shorebirds ran back and forth, while the seagulls . . . Wait. Where were the seagulls, usually more numerous than ocean waves? Ah ha! A falcon soared along the water’s edge, scouting for miscreants, and I remembered reading that the town had hired an owl/hawk/falcon trainer to scare the gulls away. Mission accomplished. But I kind of missed the call of the gull.
- Bike rides for miles from our rental to the famous Boardwalk, happily unchanged from my memories as a child and a teenager (where I literally received my first kiss – Under the Boardwalk). Now, I blithely claimed I could use my granddaughter’s bike and she her younger brother’s. I promptly fell down on a stone-strewn sidewalk. Brave Madre stopped blood flow with four strong Band-Aids while showing off the value of “no whining.”
- Son-in-law cooked an enticing omelet, and wonderful mom-in-law (me) offered to clean up. An hour later, the kitchen sink was so clogged the water wouldn’t drain; even the dishwasher flooded. Dirty dishes piled up. Plumber couldn’t come for 36 hours. More dirty dishes piled up. Had I rinsed something down the drain that I shouldn’t have? I began to blame myself. Plumber finally arrived and groaned, “This is a mess.” My guilt increased until he discovered crushed lobster shells piled in the bottom of the pipes. Since we had no lobster or shellfish of any kind, the past renters were deemed the culprits. Phew!
- Granddaughter and I celebrated by sneaking out to the amazing ice cream parlor down the street. We ordered milkshakes that were thicker than sin.
- By the end of vacation, I wished that summer would never end. Particularly if I’d get a bedroom to myself. And a bike that fit my adult body. And never had to clean up the kitchen. And found a way to drink a daily milkshake and never gain a pound.