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Reflections: Vacay the stay way or the X-ray way?

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Now is the time of year when the concept of “holiday vacation” begins to surface in our cultural consciousness. The rising bubble of  joy is tempered by the certainty of long lines at airport security checkpoints, and an awkward patdown if you don’t wish to pose body-scanner nude for TSA agents to enjoy in a private room.

This post is not about the body scanner, personal privacy, or getting anybody’s “junk” touched. And definitely not a statement on the TSA – hey, they do a difficult, dangerous, thankless job trying to protect us. Misguidedly so on occasion, perhaps, but let’s not judge too harshly (with the one exception of when it gives you the makings of a really good joke.)

Nope, in this post I’m shilling for a stay-cation this year.

Right about this time last year, I was in full-fledged panic mode getting plans (and wardrobe, for this native Floridian) in place for an 8-day long excursion to visit a dear friend in Switzerland. Ah, the stress… soon to be replaced by elation, jetlag, snow, and more elation. 8 days of glory; then all the glee was replaced by exhaustion, jetlag, stress, and more exhaustion.

Even thinking about a similar vacation this year makes me want to hide underneath my desk. And that’s more or less what I plan to do until January. Get some spring cleaning done, household projects I’ve been putting off, reading books that have gathered dust, sleep, eat, and sleep. And I can’t wait.

But lo and behold, what do I find as I dig through last year’s unfinished/unpublished blog posts? Apparently that Swiss trek was an awesome vacation. In the post I wrote when I returned (and never posted), I’m glowing with vigor and bragging about having detached from the grid, reveling in sleeping to an absurd and humiliating degree,  and slurping down Swiss fondue like cheese was going out of style. Reading this brings back all of the wonderful memories of one of the best trips I’ve ever taken – and reminds me that there are compelling reasons for waiting in line for a quick groping before I board my flight and fold my legs six ways to fit into my seat. I’m posting it here for nostalgia and as a salute to my dear friend who made every minute worth it.

January 4, 2010

Just returned from a pretty epic adventure in Switzerland over Christmas and New Year’s. Coming straight from Miami, it was like being in a strange new land. Which was even stranger given that I was (almost) completely off the grid and off my usual schedule.
– Email checked: Once.
– Tweets: 0
– Facebook: Nein.
– Work: Und nein.
– Photos: hundreds.
– Sleep: A year’s worth.
– Sick: only two days at the end.
– Fondue: Check.
– Skiiing: No thank you.
– Trains, backgammon, and wine: More than I expected.
– Alps: Yes, and cold. Really, really cold. I have to give a shoutout to my friend Denise Jacobs here, who, having once resided in Seattle and being even taller than me, was able to lend me a wardrobe of warm, properly-scaled-for-a-six-foot-woman clothing. Thank goodness for the sheepskin coat.
– News watched: (eek) Once. Just long enough to learn about several terrorism attempts on Europe-US flights and almost long enough to realize that flying home was slated to be a nightmare.

Not too bad, actually, even though I went through four – count them, four – security checks at the Zurich airport.

Compared to the cattle handlers at JFK, the Swiss are really good at moving people along politely and kindly. Plus, I got to watch a baggage handler do a pretty impressive moonwalk and a boarding-stairs-driver (?) do donuts on the tarmac. One only lives once.

Yes, one only lives once, and moments like that are once in a lifetime when you don’t have your camera handy.  So do what you got to do this holiday to get where you want to go – whether it’s fly cross-Atlantic to be with friends, drive across the state to be with family, or walk slowly and lethargically from bed to couch to be with your cat. I think you already know what my route looks like. Happy vacation to all, no matter what form it takes!

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