Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
I was just so tired of hearing about everyone’s summer plans.
Rivka, Tehilla, and Bracha signed up for a travel camp in the West Coast.
Meira and Sari went back to the same camp they’ve attended since third grade.
Shifra was going to spend second half in Israel with her family.
Baila was planning to visit Italy and Switzerland.
And me? I was going to be home. Doing nothing.
I was fine with that plan until I had to spend weeks listening to everyone carry on about their plans and their shopping and packing. And, oh, did I mention how excited they were?
It was nauseating.
“Ma,” I whined on the last day of school. “It’s not fair. Everyone is doing all this great stuff over the summer, and I’m stuck here working a few hours a day in a lousy day camp.”
“Mina,” Ma pointed out, “you chose to stay home. You said you didn’t want to go back to camp.”
“Right,” I grudgingly admitted, “but that doesn’t mean we have to just sit in this hot city all summer while everyone else vacations.”
I started the first day of camp in a rotten mood. My co-counselor, a girl I’d never met, was a little too quiet for my liking, and she pretty much let me do all the work from the moment we started. My campers must have picked up on my low sprits – they were whiny and demanding. By the end of the day, I had a headache that would not subside even after two Advils and a cup of icy lemonade.
I was recuperating on a lounge chair in our backyard when Ma came out and sat on the swing beside me.
“I spoke to Ta,” she said without introduction, “and we decided that it would be nice to take you kids away for a week in August when his business is slow.”
“Oh, so you’re taking us to Bubby in Lakewood?” I asked dully.
I know, that was mean. But in all fairness, that would be just the sort of “vacation” my parents would dream up.
“No, Mina,” she said patiently. “I mean a real vacation. And since you always have all these good ideas, we thought you’d be great at helping us plan. You have an entire month to do it.”
Now I perked up. “Really? Can we go anywhere? Like Israel?”
Ma smiled. “No, not anywhere. Somewhere we can get to by car, even if it takes a day. But there are lots of nice places we’ve never been to, and I think you’ll have fun helping us choose where to go.”
My mind swam with ideas. New Hampshire. Maine. Niagara, maybe. This would be fun!
After supper, I sat down at the computer to do some research.
First up, Niagara. The falls looked beautiful and there were so many things to do. Lots of hotel choices as well. But when I mapped it out and saw just how many hours of driving that trip would involve, I began to have second thoughts. Did I really want to sit in a car with my siblings for so long?
It was time to move on. But the hour was late. I’d spent so long researching that it was nearly midnight and I had to wake up early for my job the next morning. I put my plans on hold and went to bed.
The next day, I returned home from camp excited and eager to continue my search for the perfect vacation. After a few clicks, I found a house near the beach with a private pool in New Jersey. There were lots of attractions and a kosher restaurant nearby. There was even a shul within walking distance! I was all excited – until I clicked on the pricing tab and discovered that a stay in that house would cost about the same as a week in Israel.
I was sure, however, that a more affordable house would surface if I just searched a bit more.
Two hours later, I called it quits for the night. This was not quite as easy as I’d thought!
Every evening that week found me at the computer, searching. Everything I found was either too far, too expensive, or already booked.
“Well, who books in July?” my cousin Dina asked helpfully when I told her over the phone about my fruitless search. “The summer is the busiest time of the year! You need to think about these things in advance! But wait, you know what, my aunt Bracha has a house in Monsey with a pool that she sometimes rents out. Want me to ask her about it?”
“No thanks,” I said. “I want to find something a little more exotic. I want it to be a real vacation!”
At the end of the next week, my parents got in on the action.
“What about this farmhouse in Pennsylvania?” my father asked from across the table. He held up his phone to show me. “Oh, wait. You can only rent one room.”
“How about this?” asked my mother. “You get a two-bedroom suite and there’s rock climbing in the building. Oh, never mind. It’s all booked for August.”
As the days passed, I began to panic. Some vacation planner I was! So much for being excited.
“I know you were making fun when you mentioned it,” said Ma, “but one of the reasons we like to go to Bubby is because it’s close, it’s free, and it’s super easy to plan.”
“No, Ma!” I said. “We will find somewhere, I’m still looking!”
The day after Ta said he needed to finalize his days off, I found it.
It was a small resort just a few hours away, it was close enough to kosher food, and it had lots of fun things to do. I had actually found it that first week of day camp, but at the time I’d thought it looked like nothing special. But now, through eyes that were glazed over from endless searching, it looked perfect.
We spent hours making lists, shopping for food, and packing. We bought games for the car and for the hotel.
We had a wonderful time, despite one day of rain and a forgotten suitcase. Those seven days of vacation gave us countless pictures that made it seem so much longer, I reflected on the way home as I flipped through my camera.
But boy, was I tired.
And after helping with all the unpacking and the laundry washing and folding and restocking the house with groceries, I was even more tired.
“You know what,” I said to my mother through droopy eyes as I lugged an empty suitcase down to the basement, “this trip was really, really amazing. But you know what would be a real vacation? Just to sit home and do nothing.”
To her credit, my mother did not utter even one word in response.
But I think she may have recorded me saying that.
I’ll have to delete that; I think to myself now as I sit down at the computer.
Next August is less than a year away.
If I want to book something good, I’d better start looking now. Right?