Family Vacation Memories.
So as I was reviewing my mental files on family trips and vacations, I realized that a lot of it is hazy. I just have little moments. Things like this:
We are in Wisconsin. Camping. In a tent. Like always. But this time we have a hammock hung between two trees. I am lying in the hammock thinking that this is what vacations should always feel like. The memory of hanging in that hammock stays with me as one of the few moments in my life I actually achieve a state of relaxation. I could have stayed there forever.
We are in Michigan. Camping. In a tent. Like always. But this time it is in a campsite we have to hike to get to on the side of a hill. The car is down the hill. 1/2 a mile away. It is the middle of the night. A park ranger bangs on the side of the tent. He tells us there is a bad storm. We might want to seek cover. We don't. It pours. Not a pleasant camping experience. Sadly, not even our worst camping experience.
Because this is the worst. We are in Kansas. On our way to somewhere. Wyoming? Colorado? Camping. In a tent. Like always. Except this time there is a tornado. We take refuge in our car. We are all scared. There is a lake within view. I see a buoy getting tossed around like it weighs less than a rubber duckie. I am sure our tent will be blowing away any minute. It does not.
We go to Niagara Falls. I find it exhilarating. No one wants to go any closer with me because you get too wet. Spray from the falls. I do not want to go by myself. Disappointment.
We are at Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. I am 18. I am looking at a baby name book. I don't know why. I see an entry that says, "Meghan, from the book The Thorn Birds." I show my mom and say, "The character in the book spells her name M-E-G-H-A-N, not M-E-G-H-A-U-N. I thought that was where you got the spelling of my name?" My mom says, "Oops." Oprah and I both have names that are the product of a misspelling. Since we have so much in common, I think she should have me on one last episode of "Oprah's Favorite Things" before her show goes off the air. I haven't broached the subject with Oprah. I think she would agree.
We are driving home from Edisto Island, South Carolina. We are in our Toyota mini-van. The windows in the back of the slide wide open rather than just crack open like most mini-vans. One of my sisters vomits lemonade shake-up out this window. She can not stand to drink the stuff to this day.
We are driving to the East Coast. My little sisters are young. Old enough to handle going to the bathroom without an adult but they always go together (safety in numbers). They go frequently and they take forever. We start teasing them. What are they doing? Running bathroom inspections on every bathroom from Illinois to Massachusetts? It becomes a running joke on the vacation. We call it the "bathroom tour." We ask for reports on the cleanliness and amenities of each bathroom. They play along. It is a fun family joke.
We go to Walden Pond. We see Louisa May Alcott's and Edgar Allen Poe's graves. We call it the "Dead Poets' Society" vacation.
We are in Edisto Island, SC with my aunt & uncle. My uncle earns the nickname, "Uncle BI." This stands for Uncle Bad Influence. We spend a lot of time yelling, "Bango!" at one another.
"Don't talk to anybody! Don't look at anybody! JUST! LOOK! OUT! THE! WINDOW!" And that is why I can quietly stare out the window for hours. And why when we drive out to Wyoming, I do nothing but stare out the window. My mind is trying to grasp how the sky can possibly look so much bigger in the West than it does in the Midwest.
We went to Chicago a lot. I have seen an amazing Monet exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago, but what sticks with me is American Windows by Marc Chagall. I love American Windows. A lot. I also love the Isabella Stuart Gardner museum in Boston, another family vacation memory. We walked there! It was way too far away to walk! There starts my John Singer Sargant love.