Vacation is like childbirth in a way. A less bloody and gory way, generally speaking, depending on what floats your boat. But you tend to, when all is said and done, forget about the bad aspects of it and glorify the good.
Reflecting back on my vacation from last year I remembered nothing but palm trees, hot sun, pina coladas, a stunning view and three kids that might have been a throwback to a fifties sitcom. "Gee Wilikers, Pop, I'd love another soda! That's dandy!" Of course there were moments that were frenzied and chaotic and sometimes even awful - moments where Payton had a temper tantrum or Alex had diarrhea, or God forbid- both. Or the kids spilled their drinks in the restaurant and dumped their food on the floor accidentally on purpose because they were tired and cranky and probably had too much sun.
But those moments, it seemed, were completely forgotten.
Until we went back.
I was so looking forward to that magical moment when our vacation would start, to feel that warm sun our face. We would be glowing under it! Or so I thought.
Strangely, though, I cannot recall with any clarity or precision the moment that I first felt the sun on my face. I was bogged down with three kids, two carry ons, my purse, two fleece blankets, a plush dog and a plush monkey. I trudged down the stairs of the airplane and onto a tarmac, which I realize now must have been hot. Surely it was. But all I remember thinking was "Do I have our passports and our papers" Doing a head count of the kids. Shepherding them onto the bus, holding them close. The thought occurred to me that it was hot, but not in a "Wow this is amazing" way but more in a "Good God could they get some A f'ing C on this thing? And would it kill the guy next to me to be a little less stingy with his deodorant?" I fanned my face with our passports, but then stuffed them back down into my purse. Would people kill me for my passport? I didn't know. I looked around. They looked like mostly older, white haired touristy people, but you never know.
You never do.
Finally we got to the airport terminal. People were swarmed around the luggage belt, which was spewing out black bags. Thousands of black bags. Ours was one of them. Ours were six of them.
Alex stood too close to the belt and someone nearly took off his head with their suitcase. I picked him up, consoled him, the offending party turned, gave me a dirty look. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but I wasn't sure if you could be arrested in Mexico for saying fuck or what, so I smiled and muttered sorry while my baby's lip bled on my shirt.
OK there was no blood. I'm just being melodramatic here. But it was not good times in the luggage line. Bloody lip or not.
Then he had to go potty. Then Payton had to go. And then the stroller wouldn't unfold and I was sweating and holding the baby and pushing a now defunct stroller along, or trying to, but the damn thing was being so stubborn. And Geoff was giving me the look, the "I TOLD you not to bring that goddamn stroller!" look.
Yes- we have an "I told you not to bring that goddamn stroller" look. We have a lot of looks.
And did I mention that I was sweating?
And I wasn't sure, when we got to our hotel room an hour or so later, whether to be horrified or proud when my daughter, six, surveyed the room and then declared, quite matter of factly. "This is not acceptable."
"Hey," I told her. "Don't be like that! This is! Just great!"
I looked out the window. It was on the ground floor, facing directly onto a parking lot. Some faded yellow ribbon cordoned off the perimeter, and I wasn't sure if it was crime scene tape or not.
Probably not, I told myself. Hopefully not. It could have just as easily been left over from some kind of a fiesta night or something, although something about that didn't quite ring true. I mean- would you have a fiesta in a parking lot?
I doubted that.
But then again- what do I know about fiesta's?
In the parking lot, a truck pulled up and a couple of lanky looking locals unloaded a donkey (for the fiesta??)off of a flat bed while speaking loudly Spanish. I wasn't sure what they were saying. But they didn't look happy. Neither did the donkey.
The windows didn't lock.
Our room smelled like sewage.
"It's just not what I suspected" Payton told me, hands on hip. "Not at all."
Myself, I find it kind of endearing, but I pity the man who marries her.
But my point is this: all of that stuff was almost immediately forgotten, rather coincidentally, around the same time that I had my first rum and coke on the beach. We upgraded our room and got a beautiful suite with an ocean view. We looked out onto our parking lot (AKA possible crime scene) and said sienera with a stiff upper lip.
The kids played in the surf, laughing and giggling and throwing sand all around. It was cute- that first day, anyways. After a little while- getting sand in your eye, and most importantly- your drink, not so fun.
We stayed like that until the sun went down and it got cold on the beach.
And, now, honestly, looking back on it- I even think that it was strangely beautiful, being in that crowded airport with the kids, holding them close, carrying that cursed, fleece Monkey blanky around with me, sweating with Alex on my hip.
Because it marked the beginning. A tough and gritty beginning, but beginnings often are?
Anyways- the rest of the vacation?
was perfecto. We went parasailing and swimming with dolphins and on a pirate ship and up in the mountains and to the old down town, our children became performers, we got to know the locals. We had too much fun.
But I'll write more about that later.