December Writing Challenge Day 27: Taking PTO and Going… Nowhere

(This week’s post originally appeared on as a comment during the 2020 December Writing Challenge.)

Vacation” is, for me, the best example of how one word can be perceived so differently by two people.

My wife’s parents owned a travel agency. She was born in Spain. She has two brothers adopted from Columbia.She looks forward to vacations the way a 6 yr old looks forward to their birthday. She plans with the passion and detail of a military operation. She wastes not a single minute of time. She savors every moment.

On the other hand…

I did not grow up in a family that ‘cationed well. Dad was a musician and traveled *a lot* (I’ve written about that before: and was therefore burned out by travel. He was completely uninterested in spending his leisure time going to see Mexico or the Grand Canyon. Our biggest vacations were interminable car rides: Home -> Mom’s family -> Dad’s family -> Dad’s best friend -> Home.So when I got married, “vacation” was synonymous in my mind with “suffering in silence”.

Functionally, this means I am completely enchanted by the act of travel (anything that doesn’t require me to share the back seat of a station wagon with my brothers) but unexcited by the idea of vacationing. While my wife could happily spend the rest of her life never getting on a plane, but eagerly looks forward to every vacation opportunity that presents itself.

This is something we have navigated our entire married life, sometimes to greater or lesser success. But it also means that our experiences of this pandemic – specifically the “stay” and “cation” parts of it – have been markedly different.

It also means that once we’ve cleared the worst of this, and like so many other things in life, we’ll have to re-evaluate and re-calibrate.

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