The best vacation we never took

By Lisa Sugarman

Remember when we were kids and we came back from school vacation just dying to tell everyone the amazing things we did during our break? We had that tingly feeling that our vacation was the greatest vacation of all time and we just had to share what we did with everyone? Well, I just had the best holiday break ever and I’m dying to share.tropical-vacation-packages

Honestly, I feel like I’m nine again and I just can’t contain myself, that’s how excited I am. Only, where I went and what I did may surprise you. It may also make you a little jealous, so try not to hate me when the envy starts swelling up in your throat.

I spent my holiday break at home. Yup, never went more than 20 miles from the house. But that’s not even the best part. I spent the vacation cleaning. Uh huh, cleaning. I know, you’re overwhelmed.

Ok, so it wasn’t all spent cleaning and organizing. I’m not a complete masochist. Plenty of the standard vacation elements were sprinkled in there, too. Things like browsing the Food Network for another way to pan sear pork loins and going out for long runs at four in the afternoon. Things like sitting at Starbucks and nursing a green tea with no particular place to go except home to take a nap. Which I did, I’m happy to say, for the first time since nursery school.

There were long, lazy walks up and down the aisles at the supermarket with plenty of time to stop and read labels and evaluate sodium content. That was a particular thrill. But the thing that elevated my vacation into the epic category wasn’t even any of those things. It was the golden, and may I add completely free, opportunity I had to rip through and organize all the drawers and closets and toolboxes and storage bins that have accumulated in our house for the last ten years. And when I say organize, I’m talking separating out all the flat-head screws from the Phillips-heads and getting them into the right compartments. (Separating the hex bolts and the carriage bolts alone took a solid half hour.)small-parts-main

We cleaned closets and bookshelves, toy baskets and storage bins. Then we moved on to the real money… the kid’s school stuff. You know, all the papers and folders your kids come home with in June that you just toss into a plastic bin and label “Grade 7” and never look at again. We spent hours sifting through every piece of math homework, every study guide and glitter project our kids have ever brought home in the history of their academic careers. We waded through so much paper and clothing and memorabilia that we were convinced we must’ve had at least four more kids living in our house all these years.IMG_0641

Now it’s entirely possible that you’re reading this right now thinking that I’m clinically insane and wondering how, exactly, all of this tediousness translates into a blockbuster vacation. Well I’m getting to that.

This was no job for the weak, let me assure you. Eyeballing every scrap of paper and project and notebook under our roof to make sure we didn’t throw out anything worth saving was maddening. There were a couple of times Dave had to slap me because I was on the brink of losing my mind. Probably because I realized that Rubbermaid storage bins have a clown-car-like quality to them—fitting endless amounts of crap in them like there’s no bottom.

Where we started gaining momentum, though, was when we saw the bags of junk start piling up and the storage bins and the shelves start emptying. That empty landscape of wire shelving was truly beautiful, almost picturesque—a lot like the view from one of those bungalows on stilts in Fiji.str1743ex_123950_xx

Honestly, the euphoria I felt when I finally stepped back and really took in what we had accomplished may actually rival the best sex I’ve ever had. Really. (Thank God they both happened with Dave.)

Surprisingly, though, all said and done, it was one of the best vacations we’ve had in years, and we hardly left the house. We got to travel back over the last twenty years of our life together, reliving those beautiful forgotten moments with each other and our kids through pictures and notes and keepsakes that had been buried for years. We got the chance to remember what our girls were like before they learned to ask for money and car keys and stopped cleaning their rooms. You know, when they were still cute.

Chrome-Stationary-Wire-Shelving-LGAll in all it was an amazing twelve days that left us exhausted and rejuvenated, purged and cleansed—the true measures of any successful vacation. Oh yeah, not to mention leaving us with a lifetime supply of empty storage bins and enough free space to put a swimming pool in our cedar closet.

Told you you’d be jealous.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com.

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