We are officially settled into our vacation place.
It’s a three bedroom condo about 1/2 mile from the beach in North Carolina, the same town I’ve been coming to every August since the summer before my senior year in high school.
Every year, that is, except for the last five years when we couldn’t afford it.
But last year my parents paid for a place for us for their 50th wedding anniversary so the whole family could be together instead of having a big party or something.
And then halfway through the vacation my husband got slammed into the ocean floor on the top of his head while body surfing, was temporarily paralyzed, and then saved and dragged out of the water by Number 2.
He spent the rest of the vacation in the hospital, was unable to do anything for a couple months while he waited for the swelling to go down, and then he had cervical fusion surgery.
Our financial situation continued to deteriorate until November when things turned around and when we finally had some unexpected good news and found ourselves with a reprieve from the continuous pattern of unexpected bad news that we had found ourselves in.
And when that happened, I promised myself I was going to redo our vacation over again this summer.
One year ago, we were on food stamps, our house was in foreclosure, and my husband was housebound in a neckbrace awaiting surgery.
And now here we are.
In a condo, near the beach, on vacation.
And you know what?
I want to tell you something.
I think there are a lot of people out there who think those of us who have found ourselves in a situation to not have enough money to pay for food have gotten here willingly.
That we are working the system.
That we are abusing the system.
Sure, there are those people.
But the majority of us are hardworking people who have just ended up in position we never dreamed we would be in.
And while we are grateful to receive help, we just want to be able to pay our own bills and pull our own weight and get out of the hole we have fallen into.
My parents giving us the gift of a vacation last year was amazing.
But being able to make enough money to pay for it ourselves?
Well, that feels much different.
And much better.
I am really proud of us for getting here. Paying for own vacation feels really good.
And after a very tough few years and a vacation that didn’t quite go the way we had envisioned it last year, I have some goals this time around.
Ultimately I want to find that perfect balance of making the most of every moment we are here while not feeling the need to check things off of a list.
My goal for this vacation is to relax, reconnect, reset, and restart.
And when I envision the perfect vacation, here is what I see:
1) Sleeping in past 8:00 at least three times.
2) Reading at least two books. One for enjoyment, and one for improvement.
3) Taking a walk on the beach with my husband and holding his hand.
4) Exercising every day.
5) Taking a nap. On three separate days.
6) Going on a date night with my husband.
7) Falling asleep on the beach and waking up whenever I wake up.
8) Going to the beach at 5 pm, reading a book in a chair by myself, and staying there until the sun goes down.
9) Doing something with my husband on the beach after dark that would humiliate and traumatize my children were they to witness it.
10)Day drinking at least once.
If I can do a couple of these things, vacation will have been a success.