Day 1 –
I sit in a lounge chair, staring into the rolling blue waves. The sun is out full force, and my children are scattered around – one building some kind of sand ditch, the other two playing in the ocean with my husband. It is idyllic. It is Norman Rockwell. Ohmygodddddd, I hate it.
This is our family vacation. We opted out of Thanksgiving this year and decided to piggyback on my sister-in-law’s family vacation to an all-inclusive Jamaican resort. My in-laws are also here and so are my mom and step-dad. In theory, it’s all very nice. In reality? Well… there are extremely annoying bug bites snaking up my legs, the sun is scorching my skin, I’m having an anxiety attack that my children are in the ocean and I’m slightly bored out of my mind.
A couple, too small of bathing suit and too large of body, painfully red in the chest and arms, stagger past, giggling, spilling their drinks in the sand. It doesn’t matter. A new one will replace it shortly. And maybe if they stay drunk, they won’t feel that nasty burn. That is the beauty of the all-inclusive, drink after drink after drink. Well, it’s the beauty, unless you’re just watching it, then it’s just kind of amusingly unattractive.
Wow, I’m a little uptight. I never realized it. I mean, I know, I’m, ahem, structured, but I’m on an island, damn it. I definitely should be having more fun. Do I actually miss the daily routine of supermarket shopping and going to the gym? Or my morning coffee. Or nightly ice cream. Sigh. Crap, I’m more pathetic than I realized.
Maybe I’m just old, or because I’m with my kids and family, the idea of spending sunrise to sunset lying on the beach has about as much appeal to me as the couple who just walked by. But no, that’s not it. It’s me. I look at my mom standing next to me. She has the forlorn expression of a puppy holding a leash too long in its mouth, waiting. Well, not just me.
Day 4 – Same spot on lovely beach, intermittently biting finger nails while reading.
Men hawking sun dresses, cigarettes and necklaces wander by selling, constantly selling. There are also the music men who stop every few feet and sing, whether you want them to or not. After a while, we’re paying them to go away. About half of them whisper, “Ja wanna mara Ja wanna, Mon?” The never ending parade of friendly, stoned, poor people is a little depressing. They keep coming round and round. We take pictures with them, of course.
My oldest, who has spent much of the morning creating a ditch/moat pile of sand, walks up toward me, but there’s something funny about the way he’s moving. Hmm. It seems he’s walking like John Wayne in a cowboy movie. “Uh, honey? You have to go to the bathroom or something?”
He nods in the negative. Turns out he’s got beach burn, you know, from the wet, sandy suit rubbing against the inner thigh. It’s raw and painful and my other boys are suffering to a lesser degree. Nightly, we have instituted an Aquaphor application ritual. There is a lot legs flailing, and me trying not to get kicked in the face by giggling boys.
I turn and see my mom by the pool. She’s not in a lounge chair. My mom doesn’t lay. She can’t relax enough to read, and she doesn’t drink; nor would my mom go into the pool or suntan anymore. For her, skin cancer pales in comparison to the very real threat of wrinkles. So, what’s she doing by the pool? Water aerobics. Sort of. While throngs of semi-drunk ladies are in the pool, semi-following the fit Jamaican man demonstrating the moves from outside the water, my mom is right beside him doing her own little aerobics class. I’m almost jealous of her exercise, but too resigned and lulled by the sun to really care. Besides, my book is good. Wait? Am I… relaxing??
Howard has just returned from a snorkling excursion the kids. They are giddy with their sightings. Little Julius swears he saw a Zebra fish and a giant eel. Michael, my middle son, claims he saw a shark (He later modified to baby shark.), and Tyler swears he spotted a reef squid, whatever that is. I don’t know what they saw or didn’t, but their glowing excitement is all the reality I care about.
I think I’m going to get myself one of those drinks with a drunk sounding name. Maybe a Miami Vice or a Sexy Bikini or a Banana Sunset. Yeah, that sounds good, Mon.
Day 7 – We’re going home. Children are sad. They had the “best!” time. I am ready. I am tired of relaxing and sleeping with children lying like cats across my body. We were upgraded to the “Honeymoon Suite” when we came, which we thought was great, until we realized that basically it was just a King bed with a Jacuzzi Tub right next to it, which opened up to the bathroom. A little weird. I mean, I would think even honeymoon couples might like a little privacy. Whatever. I’m going home.
I look around. I’m, sort of, going to miss the smell of wafting weed, the beautiful warm lolling waves, my golden children smiling, eating and drinking more than I ever should, and nothing but nothing to do with my day. I can understand why people would like something like this. Oh, that’s what a vacation is? Got it. Next time, I’m going to start drinking earlier.