Tuesday, February 23, 2010

25 Days of Vacay


Everyone has a happy place.  You know, that place you think of and count to ten backwards when something or someone is severely pissing you off.  The photo above is a picture of my happy place.  It's some random bar pool in Oia, Santorini where I spent about three hours sunbathing and really, genuinely "chilling out" (in every sense of the phrase) last September.  When I close my eyes and think of this place, I can remember everything about it: the scorching sun beating down on me and the relief of the ice-cold pool when I couldn't stand the heat anymore, the way my Coke was deliciously cold but flat (and that I didn't even mind), and most of all, the quietness of my surroundings.  I could hear people chatting beside me with my eyes closed and my hand over my face to shield the oppressive sun, but their voices sounded muted and so they became almost a quiet breath of voices, rising up and down.  Then there was the hum: a very low hum of the cruise ships below docking, loading and unloading, ferrying away the loud and eager tourists below the caldera.  When I close my eyes and go to my happy place, these are all the things I see and feel and remember.

I've been thinking about coming back to the US and living and working there - after all, I'm American.  And I miss it.  But one of the things I fear most about going back is the restricted number of vacation days.  Sounds silly to you, but it's a big deal to me.  I treasure my breaks from work, city life and reality.  Two weeks is not enough.  Right now, 25 days (excluding Bank Holidays, which are random and delightful surprises to me still) are just about enough for me to fulfill the long weekends I like to spend in the country or the week/2-week long stays in places like paradise above.  I've watched my dad painstakingly "save up" his precious holidays so he can spend a mere two weeks in Hong Kong to visit his mother instead of coming to visit me for a week or go to Greece, or Spain.  Just not sure I could do it. 

And then there's the question of where to go.  I guess I've taken my current location for granted, and I hear it in the whine in my voice when discussing possible holiday destinations with friends:  "I could go to France, but I don't want to go to France again, I want a beach holiday and I don't want Greece, I want something different, like ... like ... I don't know, France."  Because everything seems possible here - France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, etc. - there's minimal planning involved, plenty of terrific EasyJet flights and Lastminute.com deals and relatively short flights, which also means no jet lag.  "If you lived in the US, you could go to Florida or California for sun," an American friend suggested. "You can ski in Colorado or Whistler."  And I don't know how to say it without sounding ungrateful or arrogant, but I suppose I'm looking for a bit of culture when I travel as well. 

Maybe I'm not ready to leave.


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