Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Vacation State of Mind

I put the start of a sentence on Facebook (yeah, I know, I am still battling that addiction) and asked friends to complete it:

"August is..."

Most people said "hot", which is not the case in my current location, where we barely ever hit 85°F.  Others talked about back to school.  But for most French residents, it's still about vacation or at least a slower pace of life due to all the other folks being away. 

You almost have to experience it to believe it. That eeriness when you drive to work and feel like you're practically the only person on the road.  How places like supermarkets and intersections just seem quieter.  The next two weeks there will only be two instead of five teachers at my company.  That's gonna be super quiet...

But that's ok, because I like having August to myself.  I feel like I'm still on vacation and can get some home projects done when I'm not actually working.

Besides, I did have a nice longish week in the mountains in July.  It's funny how when I told my family in the US I'd be gone a week, they said, "Wow, a whole week!" while most French people said, "Oh, just a week?"  I even took to replying that I'd be gone "une petite semaine" ("a little week") to French people, but would sometimes hastily add that I also had the last week of August (since Juliette's daycare is inexplicably closed that week). 

Ah, French people bask in their five weeks off and can't conceive of having less.  Americans can't conceive of five luxurious weeks and make the most of their two to three weeks. 

That must be why the French have truly got vacationing down to an art.  Packing up a million household items if they're going camping, leaving at midnight sometimes to avoid traffic and heat, carting three-month olds anywhere including in high altitude. 

I, however, was not born with vacationing in my genes.  And though my adopted country is rubbing off on me in the strangest of ways, I don't know that I am totally at ease during my vacation.  Like one of my favorite authors, Sally Vickers, says in several of her books, life is lived forwards but often enjoyed and understood backwards.  Vacations seem to be the same.  Try as I might to truly appreciate the moment, it seems I reminisce the week after and kick myself for not enjoying it even more.  During the vacation I let little things get to me: hubby's grumpiness or Juliette's whines.  Afterwards, I don't totally forget it, but my mind goes back to the misty walk on a hillcrest or the soothing green of the conifers surrounding our vacation village.

Maybe like this picture, strangely fuzzy from the misty weather, vacation memories become mottled, hazed over with what we want to remember. 

At any rate I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get away and see some beautiful landscapes, a big breath of fresh air in more ways than one.


Jenenz said...

Beautiful trails and blue skies.....ah....vacation! The Europeans sure do a great job of going on holiday. It's almost a sin in the states to take two weeks off. I'm glad you and family have the chance to experience real time off and enjoy the world.

Holly Nelson @ English Girl Canadian Man said...

The French really do know what they are doing! I have been during the summer and I know what you mean about the eeriness of everyone having gone to vacation down south! I like that misty picture!