I finally went on a vacation after almost two years. It was amazing. In the weeks preceding it, I became acutely aware of just how much I NEEDED it: emotionally and physically. I felt like every cell in my body was about to burst with the drive to get the hell out of town an away from everything: my environment, my routine, my town, everything. In between the vacation cravings came the vacation fears. What if something terrible happened to one of us? What if we didn’t get to go at all? What if we didn’t survive it? Let’s be honest for a moment. Each and every time we tried to have time off in the last two years, something awful happened. A pandemic started. Someone had a heart attack or, my favorite, someone got cancer. You see what I mean? The vacation fears almost took over the vacation cravings to the point that we felt jinxed just to utter the word vacation. We started saying pause or any other euphemism to avoid saying the word vacation. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s what happened.
So, the big day finally arrived. We were all packed and ready to go, BEFORE 2 am the night before. This in and of itself is a miracle…lol We celebrated each mile stone with vigor. Hurray we made it to the airport. Hooray we made it through security. Hurray we made it on the plane. And then, the celebrations stopped because flights were delayed…and cancelled. But, we even made the best of that and just kept switching gears as fast as they changed.
Finally, we made it to our destination: sunny Key West Florida. I had never been. It was gorgeous and hot and sweaty. I was in love. I thought for sure that it would be smooth sailing from there. It was, sort of. I realized quickly that we both had forgotten how to really take a vacation. We were kind of anxious at first, waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering how we would handle it so far from home. I think we each took our own day to fall apart a little and lift each other back up again. It sounds like a waste of time, but it wasn’t. We needed that time to absorb that it would be ok and that we would be ok and that we were allowed to just have fun and relax. We did get the hang of it eventually.
It ended up being a marvelous vacation, plane snafus at the end not withstanding. We did relax. We did have fun. We ate stuff. We did stuff. We saw old friends. We tried new things. But, after a week, it was time to get back to the real world. I realized the routine I had been so vigorously campaigning against before we left was not actually a bad thing. There is safety and comfort in the routine. For chrissakes, for the past two years life has been anything BUT routine until lately. If I am being honest, things were finally getting normal enough to even be able to notice a routine. I told myself that the routine was dragging me down, but it wasn’t really true. The routine just let’s me know that I am okay and that things are ok. That’s a good thing.
According to Diane Lang, 40 % of our lives involve routines. Routines give us a sense of structure. They give us a sense of accomplishment. They let us know that we are doing ok. They give us a pattern to follow. They are even important for our mental health. They allow us a sense of what we can control. I think this has been especially important during the pandemic. I know that for me, being able to establish a routine has been essential in my continued healthy survivorship after cancer. The bottom line is, routine are not so bad. On that note, now that I am home, I think it is time to get back to the smoothie. I missed it while I was on vacation.