We didn’t really have the money. Or it might be more accurate to say we had the money but we knew we should probably save it like real grown-ups do to put toward buying a house, or purchasing bookshelves that aren’t held together with duct tape or funneling it into an account to pay for our toddler son’s future therapy bills.
But instead, we said screw it and blew it all on a spur-of-the-moment beach vacation.
And here’s why:
It was growing dark on our first night in a little beach town in Maine. Walking through the quaint downtown, we saw a fudge shop and since calories don’t exist on vacation, we decided to buy an obscene amount to counteract the obscene amounts of deep-fried things we had just got done eating.
The friendly teenage boy working the counter gave us samples to try and made small talk and made faces at our toddler and it was all very Norman Rockwell-esque until I ruined it all.
“How do you resist the temptation to eat fudge all the time?” I asked him.
“Who says I resist it?” he replied.
Hahaha. We laughed. He laughed. Even Riker laughed. And then cue awkward moment in 3…2…1…
“Well, you look REALLY good.”
…crickets chirping…tumbleweed rolls by…
“Yeah. Well, here’s your fudge.”
As we awkwardly left the store and headed back to our hotel, I turned to my husband.
“Did that sound…?”
“But I just meant he’s in good shape.”
“I mean, that I would weigh 400 pounds if I worked there.”
“Oh, I knew what you meant. I just don’t think he did.”
“So it sounded…”
“So, to sum up, it appears like a creepy woman in her 30’s just hit on a teenage boy in front of not only her husband but also her son.”
“So…does this make me a cougar?”
And then we burst out laughing again. Even Riker (although I suspect his laughter had something to do with the epic poop we would soon find out he was busy taking in his Little Swimmers).
That right there. That story. That’s why we dipped our tired and grubby little paws into our savings account and splurged on a three-day trip to Maine. Because I can guarantee that THAT story will eventually become family lore. The vacation photos that everyone points to and says “Wasn’t that the trip where Mom hit on a poor kid that she could practically breastfeed?” And everyone will laugh. Even me, once I’m done whacking everyone in the back of the head.
Because that’s what families are; a series of stories all lived together and then told and retold and embellished (“No, I was not massaging his chest when I said it!”). And for far too many months, the plot of all our family’s stories contained work, dinner, Netflix on the couch while doing more work, repeat and too little else.
Study after study has been released lately on the recent American tendency to avoid taking vacation days, or if they are used, it’s for a “staycation” where you do all the boring things you don’t have time to do when you’re busy doing all the other boring things you need to do. This is due to a lot of reasons but a good chunk, I’m assuming, is because people are so overworked they can’t afford to miss any work and, as in our case, a lack of funds to even afford a proper vacation.
And sitting here typing this, I can already name two dozen other things that the money probably should have been used for instead.
But I don’t feel guilty. Not even slightly. Even if the rent check will be a little late this month.
Because, sure, we have nothing tangible to show for all the money we spent other than all the sand we dragged home that will remain in our house until the day we die and seven extra pounds each and that white touristy sweatshirt I bought that Riker promptly got mac and cheese stains all over. But that story and those memories and that mental image of the relaxed smile my husband gave me (the first relaxed smile I had seen in quite awhile) as we clinked our beers together in some beachside dive will last much longer than new bookshelves.
Plus, Riker can just pay for his own therapy. I mean, that’s what allowances are for, right?