Returning home from vacation is always bittersweet, more so when the trip was magical. They say that there is no place like home and to a certain extent that is true. I always sleep best in my own bed and I enjoy resuming my familiar routine and yet ending a vacation is akin to the day after Christmas. All of the joy and anticipation related to the journey dissolves into piles of dirty laundry to be cleaned and chores to be done. Somehow those first few days after a glorious sojourn are so disappointing, especially for those unfortunate souls who must return to work.
My latest time away from home was glorious on so many levels. I missed the hottest week of the summer when everyone was roasting in Houston and instead enjoyed milder days when the temperature stayed in the low eighties and cool nights when the fifty degree readings allowed us to sleep with the windows open. When I first encountered the Texas heat again I felt as though I had been pushed into a furnace. I have to admit that my body has not quite yet readjusted to the suffocating blanket of warmth that is hovering over our city just as it almost always does in August. I spent most of my week in Colorado in the great outdoors. Here in Houston I dare not venture outside for too long lest I melt. There is a certain irony in the fact that the view of my backyard is so lovely and yet venturing into it is akin to a dangerous trek in the jungles of the Amazon.
I met a woman in Colorado who spends the months from May through the end of September in Estes Park and then packs up and moves to Dallas for the winter. I’m not so sure that Dallas would be my wintering choice but I do like the idea of avoiding the Texas heat altogether. I especially love the fall here in Houston. We don’t have the lovely colors of other places but the weather is generally quite wonderful. It’s the time of year when I most enjoy being outdoors. I suppose that as I sit inside attempting to readjust to the hot days I instead should focus on the promise of much better times in the very near future.
Being with five of my grandchildren twenty four seven was a lovely experience. I rarely had a quiet moment to myself and yet I so enjoyed the noise of their laughter and innocence. They saw the sights in very different ways than I might have and it was refreshing to enter the world of childhood again through them. Every adventure was wondrous and simple even though I bore many the responsibilities of caring for them along with my daughter. Ice cream tasted so much better in the company of our kids. They delighted in the frozen treats rather than seeing them as fattening the way I sometimes tend to do. Jokes were silly and yet oh so funny. The food choices centered around spaghetti and burgers and pizza and hot dogs. My diet went down the drain and yet I lost two pounds just from running after them.
I still miss the star filled nights in the valley on Storm Mountain where our cabin was located. In the chill of the evening the sky was filled with constellations and planets. The Big Dipper was clear and huge. Shooting stars whizzed overhead. I had forgotten just how beautiful the dark of night can be. There were no artificial lights to compete with the splendor of the universe as there are in the city. The stars stood out magnificently on an inky black background that almost appeared to be a dome encircling us right down to the horizon.
Since I retired four years ago I have learned that my neighborhood is fairly quiet during the day. I am able to meditate without too many distractions. After being in the mountains where the only sounds were those of the wind and the birds and animals I am conscious of the constant hum of cars, trucks, and planes interrupting the stillness. My phone seems to ring constantly with calls from sales people, politicians, and others wanting to take some of my money. I’ll have to reacquaint myself with the continuous noise of the city.
Still there is something quite wonderful about being back home. With all of its warts and flaws I will always love this place to which I return again and again. This is where most of my friends and family reside. In the main I would choose them over an enticing landscape any day. The people of Houston are always so friendly and helpful. I feel safe and loved here. I know that all I need do in a time of distress is make a few quick phone calls and someone will come to my aid. Houston is the repository of so many memories and wonderful times. It is where I always feel my best.
It will take a few more days for me to get back into the swing of daily life again. I’ll find myself remembering the best moments of my vacation and treasuring them for the fun and relaxation that they brought into my life. I’ll count myself fortunate for being able to get away from it all now and again. I know of so many people who never have the means or the opportunity to travel. They spend their lifetimes droning away at their work never quite getting far enough ahead to enjoy the luxury of a trip. Others are homebound due to illnesses or handicaps or old age. Each day of their lives has a sameness that is never ending. I count my blessings for they are many. Going on a vacation allows me to realize how lucky I have always been.
The summer is drawing to a close. It has been a strange one for me this year. I did not get to see as many of my friends as I did in past years. The time went by so quickly. Everyone was so busy. I was sidelined by surgery. My grandson spent most of his recess from school in a cast. I worried over my daughter’s health. The vacation in Colorado set my thinking and my mood aright again. I see the world through rose colored glasses and I like it that way. My glass is always half full. I may be a silly cockeyed optimist but I have found over and over again that life always finds a way to right itself even in the darkest of times.
The world keeps proceeding onward. A new school year has begun. Children continue the tradition of being our hope for the future. Life bustles in the city and moves more slowly in the mountains. Each of us has a place and a role to perform. We work and if we are lucky we sometimes play. Vacations give us the opportunity to slow down just enough to remember what is most important and to understand that no matter where we go we humans are all so much alike.
I hear the garbage truck, the siren of the fire engine, the plane buzzing overhead. Life is apparent all around me and it is so good. Somehow I feel that nothing can steal my joy. I have seen wonders. I have enjoyed laughter. I have a place of my own and memories for a lifetime. I am back home.