My Summer Vacation

It was late summer and my family all got together to take a trip, just like we used to do years ago.  We traveled to somewhere east of here, some old unremarkable town, and we stayed at a bed and breakfast just off the main street.  Our cars were all parked about a quarter of a mile away under a grove of trees out behind the football field of the local high school.  In the dim and drowsy evenings we would take long walks down to this school to get things that were still packed away in the back seats and the trunks, swatting at the mosquitoes in the thick air and straying to the sidewalks whenever an approaching vehicle caught us in the beam of their headlights.

There seemed to be some concern over whether our cars would start or how we were getting home or perhaps even where we were.  But the days just passed by in lethargic apathy, the smaller kids having settled in on loose mattresses in a spare room at the back of the house, the scattered socks and picture books and stale air, the adults all sitting around the living room, passing the afternoons amid newspapers and coffee cups as the sun tracked its course across the front windows and that endless paper strip of sky cranked from clouds to stars, another bright day giving way to another humid night, the proprietor’s dog curled up under the shadow of an end table, the crickets out there in the dark, no one really feeling the need to talk.

There was an older couple also staying there at the bed and breakfast, and on one occasion when we were all sitting around considering what to do about our cars, the wife told us, “The only real vacation is the kind where you’re not sure how you’re going to make it back. And you don’t care.”  And so it was with them.  The lady passed away the following night, right there in her bed.  They took her out the next morning with the sheet pulled over her head, the ambulance waiting out at the curb. But there were no tears or regrets.  It was just another thing that came and went.

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3 thoughts on “My Summer Vacation

  1. There is something extraordinarily lyrical about this short short story. Whether it is a dream or not is neither here nor there. It comes from a place where BMW receives his short short stories and that is all we need to know.

    It's lyrical for being an allegory of contented life. As the paradigm of vacation it's not what you'd find in a travel brochure. No one goes sightseeing, there are no adventures, just a staleness in the air and a mild sense of insecurity. But the over-riding feeling is contentedness.

    I liked especially the cars being parked a quarter of a mile away. I've long given up parking on my own street, especially right in front of my house. I've had side mirrors damaged three times, scratches from lounging pedestrians or children's bikes, so I park a long way off and forget the car altogether. There is always a pleasure in discovering it again. Now that it's battle-scarred it is no longer attractive (touch wood) to vandals.

    Happy holidays!

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  2. “I liked especially the cars being parked a quarter of a mile away.”

    I found that detail oddly appealing as well.

    Part of it was also the place itself too, I guess. The cars parked on a sloping lawn, the sun already dipped below the horizon leaving just a red glow on the edge of the sky, and everything's kind of hazy in the twilight and you can hardly see to find your way around. The dream was full of all kinds of summer impressions like that, or at least things that leave me with the impression of summer.

    At the same time, there was something kind of …. disconcerting about the cars being parked so far away, as though they'd been abandoned someplace that might seem frightening if I stopped to imagine the place with none of us around. If that makes any sense.

    Have you ever lay in bed at night thinking of a secluded place you were at during the day and thinking about what it's like there now at night and maybe feeling a little creeped out by it? And maybe you even think about something you might have dropped there like a key or a coin and it's like that thing is a part of you out there cold and scared and alone? It was kind of like that.

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  3. And, of course, as always, thank you for your kind words.

    I actually had this dream about a week ago, I think. It's funny how sometimes it's not always apparent right away that there's something there to write about. But the dream had stuck with me, and I finally had a chance to sit down and think about what it was that drew me to it, which I suppose is generally where my process begins.

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