Remember my vacation post? Our grand trip to Portland a few weeks ago? We had nearly everything on our must-have vacay list. The boys slept well. Good food. Great house. Incredible views. Friends to share it with. I think we got big headed after that trip. Thought we had it all together. Knew how to take a trip with our kids and really rock it. But then… then we just had to get all full of ourselves. Just had to take a last-minute trip to Santa Barbara. Jason was going down again for work and I decided to tag along with the boys. This was going to be great. Totally fantastic. Jason would be working so I’d be on my own with the boys every day. But I had friends to catch up with, bathing suits packed and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf right near our rental house. And hey, even if it was a little rough with the boys, nothing, absolutely nothing could be worse than last year’s work trip to Santa Barbara. Right? Right???
Let’s quickly revisit last year’s week in Santa Barbara. I had been looking forward to the trip for months. We hadn’t been back for a visit in 4 years. We were going to stay with a good friend and her family, every day was lined up for seeing all our various friends and eating out at all our old haunts, several of my college friends were in town for a wedding so we’d be able to catch up, and hellllloooo sunshine! But then… then my grandmother died. Down in Northern California for the funeral, I was due to fly home to Seattle the day before our Santa Barbara flight. And about 10 minutes before leaving for the airport, I stubbed my toe (hard) on my dad’s desk, breaking my toe and tearing some ligaments. My dad found my old crutches from high school in the garage so I still flew home, spent 4 hours in the ER upon arrival, and we headed out to Santa Barbara the next morning with me on crutches. For some reason, I was still completely optimistic. I hadn’t thought through the implications of my injury. Didn’t realize that not being able to walk was the very least of my problems. I couldn’t pick up the boys. I couldn’t drive a car. I couldn’t carry Isaiah in the Moby while pushing Gryffin in a stroller, which was my plan for getting around as we strolled along the beach-front soaking up all that sun. So with Jason working every day, I was housebound for the week. Unable to go out. Unable to get meals pulled together for Gryffin, unable to get Isaiah out of his bed, and unable to remain terribly cheerful because I was grieving for my grandmother. Pretty rough way to spend your vacation.
Wait, though! Wait for it. There’s more. On our second-to-last day there, I convinced Jason that I would be able to drive and informed him that I was going out to visit a friend. Freedom! I made it to my friend’s house and was there for about 15 minutes when I slipped and fell. Trying to protect my broken toe, I clocked my other foot on the coffee table, breaking the EXACT SAME TOE in the EXACT SAME PLACE on my way down. Unbelievable, right? What are the odds? I couldn’t even call Jason. It was just too bizarre. I texted him instead. He had to come get me. Carry me out of the house and we went home the next day with me in a wheelchair. Nice. Real nice. And looking back, that trip, starting with my grandmother’s funeral really, kicked off what ended up being a very difficult and sad season of my life, culminating in the death of my grandfather about 5 months later.
So this year felt like it would be a do-over. Vindication, if you will. NOTHING could be as bad as last year. And this year’s trip would kick off a season of joy. It all just seemed so fitting. But then… then I got the flu the day before we left. Again, though, I still felt optimistic. At least I could walk, right? I’d be better in no time. The flight was easy-peasy. The boys were brilliant. Everything was looking good. But by evening, Isaiah had a fever and things just went downhill from there. The boys slept dreadfully. We were up multiple times each night with them. We were sick as dogs all week. Couldn’t see my friends because even if I’d been able to Day-Quil my symptoms to oblivion, I couldn’t take my sick kids near their little ones. My friends were troopers – meeting me so we could walk with our kids in their strollers, and tried to carry on conversations with me despite the fact that I’d lost my voice entirely. But there were so many difficulties, so much angst. We were just generally miserable all week.**
Seriously. What are the odds? That’s what everyone said last year when I came home with my two identical broken toes. Who does that? And now I’ve returned from my second botched Santa Barbara vacation and everyone is saying it again. What are the odds? How could this year be so dreadful as last year? Who has a bad vacation two years in a row? To the same destination? It’s weird. As my friend, Kel, said, “you just can’t catch a break, Nance.”
So what’s the take away? What did I learn? Where is the glorious insight to wrap up this post? I really don’t know. It was discouraging and disheartening on so many levels. Jason has this remarkable… uhhh, gift?… to conveniently forget the hard stuff from a vacation like this one and to be able to sum it up afterwards with a eh, it wasn’t so bad. Me? Not so much. Here are a few things that I remember from the trip that were life-giving for me, blessed few though they were.
- My friends, Sarah & Stacy. Even though our times together are so different with 5 kids between us now (and another little guy on the way!), and very little time for actual talking and connecting, what with all the diapers and time outs and lunches and refereeing and what not, it was still great to catch up and spend time with them. It really felt like old times, in some ways. I miss those two!
- Seeing my college roommate, Kristy, one evening. It was so good to catch up a little and hear more about her life now. I always feel like Maj and I are able to pick up right where we left off. I miss being part of her day-to-day life, that’s for sure.
- Taking the boys over to swim with our friends, Kelly & Ruth. They are both so instantly charming with our kids and such kindred spirits to J and me. Kelly even let Gryffin sit on her Vespa and pretend to drive it. That was a highlight for sure!
- Visiting Westmont where Jason and I went to school ten years ago. I also got to visit with my friend, Deanne, who is working there this year. It was wonderful to stroll around and see how much the campus has changed since I was a student and to catch up with Dee.
- Breakfast @ Tupelo Junction. We didn’t go much when we lived there but that breakfast was epic. The best meal of the week, hands down.
- On our last afternoon, we had about 5 hours to kill between check-out and heading to the airport. We were pretty beat and just wanted to relax somewhere and hopefully get the boys to nap. So we headed over to our friends, Greg & Kim’s house, and spent the afternoon there. Kim was gone for the day but Greg was home with their three girls. The boys napped so well there and I felt so at peace sitting in their house, enjoying their incredible yard with all of Greg’s projects, from beehives and woodworking to rope swings and chicken coops. I remember the exact same feeling from our trip last year. Sitting in their living room with my two sad toes propped up. Something just feels…good at their house. Jason and I were trying to pinpoint the feeling when we got home. We both feel completely at our ease there, totally relaxed and able to let our guard down. I guess that’s pretty rare. And it got me thinking. I hope that is what folks feel when they come to our house. That they would feel that same sense of ease and peacefulness surrounding them. That the love in our family would somehow permeate the actual house, like it seems to at Greg & Kim’s. So there you go. Maybe that’s the take away from our Santa Barbara trips, both past and present. Still, though. I think I could have figured that one out without a complete trash heap of a week. Just sayin’.
** Unlike the rest of the us, Jason had a great week. He worked, had lunch with friends every day, outings for beer in the evenings, and capped the week off with a sunrise mountain biking adventure. I tried hard not to be bitter about his good fortune all week, while I was in the depths.