Monday, April 1, 2013

Packing for Vacation

Three people, three rooms, three computers.
This is how we prepare for a family vacation to Florida at the end of the coldest, snowiest March I can remember. I've been looking forward to it for months. Even if we were going nowhere, everybody needs a vacation.
But it's hard to get there. I don't mean the travel. Airports can certainly be hell, but we're not at the point of worrying about how we're going to get there through rush hour traffic on a weekday morning, of if somebody's going to find two ounces of forgotten hair oil in the bottom of your suitcase and subject you to a cavities search on the suspicion of impersonating a rock star. No, not yet the wake-up anxiety, taxi waiting it's beeping it horn, commuter traffic, airport security, delayed flight, missed connections, night in a plastic chair sort of stress.
No, we're talking about getting the next week work's done before your finish this one in order to have one week free of doing the work you normally would be doing if you weren't taking a vacation week in order to get away from work. Which obviously you cannot. At least not easily.
In the kitchen I have no idea what my wife is working on. She does seem to be going at it steadily enough to make me wonder why this is technically a day-off for my dearest. Her voice sounds positive, supportive, occasionally even cheerful on the phone. Is that how work sounds to my dearest when she is in the office as well? And if things are going so well, are these phone calls really necessary?
But hers is not the only voice I hear. In the living room (and our spaces are rather closer together than farther), I hear another voice. Female also, upbeat, almost perky at times, businesslike but nothing hard-edged. Nothing like a seriously prolonged discussion with a taxi driver in Beirut. And so I realize that, yes, my fabulous daughter has found somebody in another hemisphere to share her hours of Eastern Standard Time consciousness with.
So three rooms, three computers -- and telephones. Phone calls apparently necessary to pre-vacation planning are being diligently executed. I'm accustomed to hearing the smooth, slight, dull squish of the Mac keys coming from somewhere within the circle of my daughter's presence, wherever that presence happens to be at any given moment in the house. Only today those little key-to-key computer conferences are accompanied by live voices.
Still, when it comes to keyboard whacking the leader on the course is the guy in the closed "office" room writing the story not scheduled to appear until eleven days hence, but necessary to be completed and shrink-wrapped in digital deep freeze all cleaned up and tidy until the instant it's needed, so that the poor long-suffering, wintered-out in-need-of-vacation typist's brain doesn't have to think about it (or anything like it) until the brain's owner is back from vacation. No brainfogs in Florida.
Work orgy finished, the poor typist collapses and lies on his face for two hours immediately upon the thing's completion.
The funny thing is, all goes exactly as planned. Three people, meeting a fourth (with his own working life on hold) in a crowded motel room for restaurant meals, long walks, cobblestone streets, diving pelicans, treks through subtropical "marine hammocks," Spanish forts, and cruising with dolphins. And no work interruptions for four blessed days.
So let's all give a leisurely cheer for the Sunshine State. Where have they been keeping this place all my life?