The vacation is an odd creature. When I packed my bags last Tuesday night, I initially packed neatly and diligently, orderly and smartly. This was the first bag. The bag that came after the first neat one was less so, but still orderly. Then the fly rods were hung from the straps that adorn the interior ceiling of the fishing truck, which is really just a silver Lexus SUV that I call a truck in a futile attempt to bestow more masculine qualities upon it. The bags that followed the first and the second, the ones that came after the fly rods were set in their traveling spaces, those bags were less packed and more thrown together, with different bits of content no longer organized by size, shape, or theme. They were just bags, filled with cell phone chargers, boxer shorts, fly boxes, graham crackers and marshmallows. The chocolate would be purchased later. This is how my trip began, and like any vacation, the preparations had actually begun far prior to that Tuesday night.
Wednesday morning, we left at about the right time, but only after the dogs were sufficiently walked, the instructions for the dog-sitter thoroughly and annoyingly detailed. The house was cleaned, I yelled about it not being clean enough, the back of the truck filled to overflowing. The feminine SUV pointed West, but a bit North, the cruise control set at a rate of speed that would only later prove to be too elevated, at least according to the kind Swedish officer in Richland County that let me off with only a warning. I explained to him that I might have been speeding, but that if he were in my shoes, in that car with the bags and the graham crackers and the toxic mix of children then he, too, would be speeding in a futile attempt to outrun those problems in the backseat. He bought this, and I was thankful. The trip was not deterred, even if it was delayed while plates were run and I quietly pondered if the officer would come back to the car and arrest me in front of my children for outstanding warrants that would only be recognized as being against a different David Curry far after the damage that would be me cuffed and hauled away to the station in front of my wide-eyed children was done.
What followed was a few days of relaxation, I suppose. We were there in the small cabin that we have come to rent a few times a year, indulging in farmer’s markets and clear trout streams. We were happy to eat breakfast in a place where no one knew our names, to wander streets where our faces were not familiar. I had brought along a handful of cash that I had carefully planned where each bit would be spent. After one day, that plan lay in tatters in the center console, coin change and single dollar bills littering the area where a stack of diligently assigned twenties had resided. I watched the weather with conflicted interests, wishing for sunshine for my view, but clouds for my fishing desires. I wished for this weather, and I wished for my kids to behave, and I wished for my wife to stop wishing that her dogs would be with us.
Mostly though, I fished. I took my son with on that first outing, and as is my selfish habit I took him with me to a stream that I like for its technical difficulty, for its wary wild trout and its heavily wooded setting. This is not ideal for any novice fly fisher, let alone an 11 year old novice. The tangles were many, the long casts required were made mostly by me, and though I tried my best to set him up for success, I failed. We fished the afternoon away, crawling over logs and through the stinging sort of nettle. We caught many fish, he practicing what he long ago learned; to handle fish carefully and with respect, to release them back to the stream that they call home. When I hooked one fish that ate the fly too aggressively and it was apparent that the fish might not survive, we released him anyway and said a prayer on his behalf. Later, we ate chicken wings that were really just globs of chicken covered in aggressive batter. After that, we slept in our small beds in the same room, the screen door and windows open to the night sounds.
By Friday afternoon, it felt as though we had been gone for a very long while. I had showings scheduled for Sunday, an open house, too, and so by Friday late my mind had turned to those activities. I tried my best to mix a desire to relax with the necessity of work, and feel this morning as though I failed at both. Saturday night, with one night remaining on our scheduled vacation, we drove home. By Saturday midday, it was apparent that in order to make a success of Sunday I would need to wake up in my own house, in my own bed. I would need to shower in my own shower, the one where I can turn to grab the soap without knocking my nose on the shower head. We drove back East and a bit South, back home.
In that cabin on one of those short days of vacation, I hung up three different jackets on three different metal hooks. The hooks were on the wall under the open staircase, and I had brought so many jackets with because I feared rain, and without a dryer available, I would need a dry jacket to wear while the wet one air-dried. As this was only a vacation, an engineered attempt to be part of a different scene, these were not my hooks. They belonged to someone else, and I had merely rented access to those hooks for a few days. As I looked at those hooks, I decided that vacations cannot pretend to compete with pure vacation home ownership. I wanted to own those hooks, just as I want you to own the Lake Geneva hooks that you long for. I had an email yesterday from a client that I hope to someday sell a house to. He asked about a rental for a week in July. He likely didn’t understand when I responded by saying that he needs to buy his own set of hooks, so his jacket can hang there as long as he wishes.