Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's About Time

Scott asks "How do you feel to be home?" and I say "Relieved". When he answers the same question he says, "Overwhelmed". Usually I would agree; there's something about stepping off of a plane from vacation into the chaos of concrete and cars that is unsettling, but today I find signs that read CLICK IT OR TICKET, DETOUR and LEFT LANE CLOSED comforting. I've never had a good meal at Denny's. People say it's because I never order their breakfast. The last time I was there, treating the priest who almost officiated our wedding (until he won a cruise) to dinner, I ordered Talapia that tasted like somebody's pet fish probably would if you grilled it, but even that neon sign makes me feel peace as we drive by it on the 405 in traffic.

Tahiti was like a Condé Naste magazine come to life. The deep water was the same color as mouth wash. The shallow water was like an aquamarine jewel liquified and multiplied by twelve million. It has the kind of climate where you really have to make an effort to be hot or cold. But of course, as my mom reminded me when I mentioned I was sad and stoked to come home, life is both bitter and sweet. While we were there, there happened to be an unknown amount of mosquitos carrying a fever and splotch inducing sickness around French Polynesia that none of us had ever heard of. Some people said you never fully recover from it. So each time we ventured from our chartered sailboat to land, I was the one making an effort to be uncomfortably hot in the quintessential climate. Or rather, I was making sure to cover every ounce of my skin with fabric to protect Sprout from a bug he or she won't know how to pronounce for years. This is the main reason I find the sight of Denny's so calming at the moment. The other reason is because I'm glad to be headed back to a routine I have more control over; to not have to debate the question "So, what's the plan for the day?" with five other people. 

Eleven days earlier we boarded our sailboat in Ra'iatea, rented from Sunsail Charters. When we started doing these types of vacations over a decade ago, Maddie and Danielle hadn't even had braces yet.

One year we brought a card game modeled after Go Fish. It was called Go Eat and came with a kid's meal at Ruby's restaurants that summer. We would battle it out hoping to be the one to accumulate the most chicken nugget and milk shake pairs. Maddie and I were the most likely to get caught up in some battle over who had won the most games, but you couldn't count Danielle out for getting upset over kid's meal cards either. It's guaranteed that at least one person will cry on family vacation, but so far it's never been my dad. He loves these vacations. He's probably already Googled 'bareboating away from civilization', excited to present to us the next time we will all be confined to 30 feet together.

One day he and I are sitting alone in the dinghy watching a rainstorm linger and gather over some tall cliffs adjacent to our boat. He tells me those cliffs weren't formed by volcanoes, like I had believed, but by uplifting, when two plates converged and pushed each other up. Scott is out surfing and we sit watching and waiting for him in the dinghy, having just surfed the right on the other side of the channel. I'm mad at one of my sisters for snapping at me for what I feel is absolutely no reason and seeking counsel from him. He tells me some of his standard advice that could be applied to almost any conflict. "Be the bigger person." I roll my eyes. 

"Dad, doesn't it ever get to you? .... The drama that goes down on these trips?" 

"I try to stay out of it, you know that. I just really enjoy everyone being together. It doesn't happen as often anymore," he replies.

"We were all just together at Thanksgiving," I say. 

"Right. That was a while ago," he says as he looks back, studying the approaching storm.

It's only been like a month since Thanksgiving, not to mention that two out of three of his kids work at his office, plus his son-in-law Scott, and we were all also together two out of four weekends in December. We're together all the time, I think to myself. He has a house down the street from me! But that's when I realize that he can never get enough of his family, even when he's stressing out and yelling at us (me) to "Just get out of the way!" at the airport. He would never lose faith in his family, in his certainty that he wouldn't rather spend his life with anyone else. 

Now that I'm home, in the comfort of my own house, planning without any debate or input what I will make for lunch, I realize that, that's what stands out to me most from this vacation and all the trips we've taken together as a family. It's easy to remember the arguments we've had. Anger and irritation stick around much longer in my mind than I'd like them to; Love is much harder to give words to.

Even though I can't really control my mind, I hope that someday it will work more like my dad's does (except I'll be much more patient at airports!). I'll let all the little things fall to the floor, like the soft sand does out of my suitcase as I unpack my one piece swimsuit, and I'll always be hoping for more time with family too. 

Tahiti Travel Tales


  1. I was wondering why you were wearing so many clothes ;)
    Stunning get away!!
    a boat on the ocean would be a pretty amazing thing to try one day.
    Especially when the ocean is as blue as mouthwash!
    as always, living vicariously through your adventures.

    1. You can't even see the sweat pants I was wearing under that dress in the pictures and after this walk down the dock I put on SOCKS and shoes! Thank goodness it worked. Happy New Year Misty! Hope you and your family are well!

  2. It looks like a really beautiful place to go visit. Not a fan of mosquito's though. :)

    Family is such a wonderful, and yet overwhelming part of life. When I was 19 I moved away to California for a year. Not having my family close by, even though we spoke EVERY DAY, felt really wrong and yet really liberating. Allowing myself to become independent, self-sufficient, and learning to decide things on my own was something I needed in order to grow into the adult I am today. However, my family is my life line in so many different ways. They are a really huge support system, and have my back through anything that I do. Whether I’m right or wrong, they are by my side. Being without them when things were rough, or not being able to walk a few blocks to my parent’s house in order to vent was really frustrating. It made me realize how important family really is to me. But I completely understand needing that peaceful calm that comes with being on your own in your own space. It's that deep breath you take when you've finally finished a really huge project. And that’s perfectly okay. I love my family, and we butt heads often, but boy do we have some really amazing times. Even if there's conflict, after the drama and dust has settled, I am completely in love with the fact that we are all together. And I’m even more excited that my daughter gets to grow up surrounded by such awesomeness! 

  3. That looks BEAUTIFUL!! What an amazing escape! I know what you mean, though, about feeling relieved once you get home. I feel like that after a vacation, too. It's nice to just be back in my own bed and do my own thing. That's scary about the mosquitoes. You're already being a good, protective mama:) Families do fight and it's hard to let go of that sometimes, but it's comforting to know that they're the few people on this planet you can fight with and then be laughing with 10 minutes later. You can be comfortable enough to show your true colors. These pictures were a bright spot in my day since it's FREEZING here:)

  4. Wow, what a beautiful place to visit. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and I love your words about your dad. He's amazing, every time you mention him I always think that. It makes me laugh that you and your sisters still argue a little and get upset about winning games. Maybe your dad rolls his eyes sometimes as well. Glad you avoided any nasty bugs. Home is a good place to be isn't it. Have a good weekend Devon. CJ xx

  5. Looks like an amazing trip! Although it sounds like you could have done without the mosquitoes. Its on my bucket list to get to that part of the world. In a few short weeks we leave for Mexico with the family to get out of this cold for a bit. Happy to hear that the extra precautions payed off and that you didn't get sick. What amazing clear blue waters! At the same time I can relate with what your saying about being back home and not having to be so worried about all that. Have a great week and I look forward to touching base soon.

  6. Those photos. Oh my goodness, gorgeous. I just showed these to my husband and told him that we need to go here immediately. :)


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