31 March 2009

family vacay

When I was a kid, between the ages of 7-18, I always thought that other families' vacations were way better than ours.  As the oldest of seven children, and the daughter of frugal parents, we never bought treats at the gas station, souvenirs at gift shops, or any of the other frivolous little tchotchkes that back then seemed so cool and exotic to me.  Who were these mysterious children (the ones from back East always looked pale and overprotected, the Europeans wore snug little shorts and sandals with socks) whose parents bought them Mickey Mouse ears, or giant snow cones?  I used to wish I was an only child, or at least from a family with only two children, so I could ride in a small tidy car eating verboten foods like twinkies and snickers, instead of a station wagon with the back seat folded down, rolling around with sticky, wind-blown younger siblings, stopping at rest stops to make sandwiches and eat yogurt.

Last week in Arizona, Auntie Brook rented a cabana by the pool at the Hilton Pointe Tapatio resort, which you can do without being a guest there.  Each cabana has a fridge, table, lounge chairs, a pack of cards, cable tv, and heavy drapes you can pull for shade and privacy.  The three pools feature water slides, palm trees, hot tubs, and a zero-depth area for toddlers.  I don't think you're supposed to bring in 8 adults and 20 children per cabana, but that's what we did anyway.  Auntie Brook is from a family of 10, and they have lots of tricks for having fun on a budget.  In comes Lindsay and Whitney with smuggled bags of contraband:  uncrustables, granola bars, grapes, oreos, etc., etc.  I thought I saw the pool attendants looking askance at our cabana before I pulled the curtains to unload the snacks into the mini-fridge, and I made the kids pull the curtains while eating our contraband snacks as well.  I watched the only children or the two children eating 15 dollar salads, nachos and chicken strips and had that feeling again:  these are the real people, paying full price for everything, spending unimaginable loads of cash on meals and activities and shopping.  Easterners in cowboy hats and boots, golf regalia, pale and over protected, while our Mormon clan ran around under supervised, already tan in mid-March, swimming like olympians.  

My therapist has been helping me to discipline my thoughts away from negative thinking, and I checked my thoughts:  look how happy the kids are running around with all of their cousins!  Those nachos don't look good at all.  And those forty-year old women in bikinis sparkling mules with tummy tucks and boob jobs?  Their husbands probably cheat on them.  Okay.  I check my thoughts again.  Disciplining them doesn't include ranking on others.  I love my belly.  It gave me Eva, Ingrid, Lula, Cecily and Moses.  And, now that I'm older, my best memories are of the camping trips we took as a family (and I marvel at my parents, packing seven children, tents, camp stoves, and food for a whole week into and on top of our station wagon.)  My favorite thing was watching my dad, who is an excellent outdoorsman (well, he's excellent at almost everything) put up the tent and then getting his militaristic orders:  police the perimeter and make sure we haven't left any garbage behind, damp the fire, dig a three inch deep trench around the tent.  My brother and I loved this, and all of the facts about the flora and fauna of our camp area he would impart.  

And the thing that I missed out on the most during that narcissistic and depressed time of my life was a strong relationship with my siblings.  I was too absorbed in my own existential spiral to notice what was going on with them.  Now that we're grown, they are the people I treasure most in this world.  When we were fighting as kids, my Mom would always tell us, "Be careful what you say.  Your brothers and sisters are going to be your best friends when you grow up."  She was right.  I have four incredible sisters and two hilarious, cool brothers.  All brilliant, all kind and dependable, all excellent people.  

So, Scottsdale fashion be damned.  I love the matching short and tank top outfits sewn by my mother that we wore and then handed down throughout the late seventies and early eighties, our cool "woody" station wagon, our cooler full of granola and yogurt for the road.

1 comment:

Bingy said...

Oh my gosh! That is bananas. I totally had a dream last night that I went on a beach vacation organized by Aunt Brook, and there were even heavy curtains involved! The problem was that then it turned into a nightmare because of these mysterious, poisonous, fluffy spiders... but the beginning was nice. What a coincidence!