Family vacations are so different from vacations by yourself. You don’t realize this as a kid, or at least I didn’t. It’s really not until you’re “commander of your own ship” that you grasp the significance of calling the shots (and footing the bill) of your own time away.
Perhaps it’s growing up in small houses with many people, or perhaps it’s just built into my disposition, but I recharge with time to myself. Since attaining adulthood, I’ve taken many road trips, and some plane trips, and even a few train trips. There was one day of my life where I sat on a beach in the Mediterranean, alone, for six hours.
The Oregon coast is no Mediterranean, but it has a rugged beauty all its own. (For one, they don’t import the sand and palm trees *cough*Barcelona*cough*.) The day we arrived we went for a walk on the familiar beach. The winds were so fierce that two days later I was still scratching sand from my hair. Walking back, into the wind, we covered our faces with our hoods and shirtfronts, stumbling along like toddlers.
We were there to commemorate my grandmother. Mona was wonderfully creative, not just in the cerebral sense, but in that she created things. Pencil portraits, gorgeous oil landscapes, matching Easter outfits for my ever-growing family – all these came from here. She was the sugary-cereal, Dixie ice cream cup, cable television in the kid’s bedroom kind of grandma. She spoiled us, yes, but she was my good friend. Even in college her house was a respite; I would drive the three hours over the pass to visit her just for a weekend.
Mona grew up surrounded by brothers. She married young. She had four boys. When my parents conceived me, her first grandchild, you can imagine her joy at learning my gender. She was best friends with her mother, and for both of them, I can conjure up the most vivid memories, mundane as they may seem. Eating almonds at great-grandma’s, not because I like almonds, but because I was always told that my eyes were almond-shaped, and so I somehow thought I should like the nut. Driving to see her, with Mona, and losing a back molar to a caramel candy. Doing Sit and Be Fit together. Vacations in Bandon.