I have gone on my first real adult vacation.
I am wise.
I am mature.
I am in debt.
Over the past four years I have been a summer camp counsellor. The June through August months have entailed a sleep-deprived inebriation, force feeding eight-year-olds and clothing myself in an eclectic collection of dance costumes and ’70s menswear. But now I am an adult. And now, while I am still waiting for this thing called summer, a precious respite from the fucking shitstorm Zeus has created (yes, I still believe this theory), I am spending my summer months as a grown woman: working, hating the weather and taking just 5 out of 92 days from June 1 to August 31 to enjoy an actual holiday.
I first realized the necessity of this miniature vacation while standing in line at the slowest Starbucks in the universe. During the fifteen minutes I waited for a poorly-made, half-full $3 tall coffee, the woman in front of me tried to strike up a conversation. And I, like most city folk, am wary of nice people.
HER: Do you go to school here?
ME: Yeah, I go to Emerson.
HER: Oh, really? That’s nice. What are you studying?
HER: Wow, that’s great. I’m actually a bit of a writer myself…
– 5 minutes and lots of talking later –
HER: You know, I’m actually going to school, too. In New Jersey.
ME: Oh, that’s good.
HER: Yeah. Bible school. Pause, bated breath, concern, oh shit what have I gotten myself into who is this woman what’s happening what’s she going to say next. Are you familiar with the Mother God?
ME: I have to go.*
*time for a vacation
Following this harrowing encounter I was forced to spend the most wasted hour of my life at The Establishment, where I tried to determine what was more valuable: the $10 I made bitching to the other hostesses when I was meant to be flyering, or the two and a half hours I spent getting ready, riding the train, working and going home. By the time it was over I had settled on the fact that both of these things were worthless, but I knew I needed a vacation.
My New York friends are a certain, strange breed of people. They are the kind of people who live in the City, with its fast-paced, hectic convenience, but also the kind of people who spent four months in Africa, which is precisely where we met, sleeping on floors and fashioning bathrooms out of holes in the ground. Each of them could probably merit an entire post on their own:
First, there’s Vivian, history buff and kitchen appliance enthusiast. She works at a history museum and loves her magnetic company name tag almost as much as she loves making puns.
Next is Amanda, a.k.a. Bunny, who should have been born in the ’60s and loves music and big jewelry, of which she has a full display on her dresser. We want to go to India next summer as a group, my New York friends and I, and Bunny is probably the most likely to get left behind and live on an ashram and take an Earth name, like Lakshmi.
Last but not least is Laura Gage, my roommate from Africa: fun, eccentric, sweaty. She currently works for American Express, loves Shanghai and sweats profusely. Also, Vivian believes that she’s dirty, but I suppose that’s open to interpretation. I find her hilarious and wonderful, and I certainly appreciated the midday text at some random time in June inviting all of us to her family’s summer house in Maryland.
So there I was on a bus to New York, knowing full well that I could not entirely afford this adventure, excited and worried about grown-up things like whether or not something was terrible was going to happen at work and I was going to be fired and then, because of that one stain on my resume, my life would be hell and I would never get a job and no one would ever hire such a fuck-up who had the nerve to go on vacation in July what a bitch can you believe it. But approximately fifteen minutes into the bus ride my worries were alleviated when I remembered that I hate my job and that that probably wouldn’t happen. I got to NY safe, though contemplating how to escape if the exploding Chinatown bus fell off some obscure Brooklyn-Manhattan bridge with no guard rail, and the next day we went to Maryland, all of us together.
At the Gage’s summer house, a beautiful place on the ocean complete with swimming pool, canoe and a collection of terra cotta warrior statues, we met TOM GAGE, Laura’s father, whose name I can only think about in all caps because that is how Laura says it, with a deep movie-announcer voice. We also met Peter, Laura’s brother with a wonky foot, who hobbled around in a boot all weekend. They’re lovely people who fed and, on some occasions, clothed us (see Fig. A).
When in Rome, dress like the Gages do.
And thus the weekend was upon us. We laid out in the sun (and I got sufficiently sunburned, but we’ll not discuss that), attempted to fit five people in a canoe, which promptly tipped, sank and caught a weird-looking dirtfish, and did front-flips into the pool. Later, as a remedy to my sunburn, we also got drunk. Laura taught Vivian and Bunny how to play Flip Cup by pouring a small amount of Coors into a Solo cup, placing it on the edge of the table and flipping the cup around to stand on its rim. She later added that she might have forgotten to drink the beer first. A handful of Peter’s friends came to the summer house as well and, in several riveting rounds of Flip Cup and a game or two of Kings, we proceeded to change the décor of the Gage family summer house with our own personal touch.
Note: It is acceptable to festoon your host's property with blankets, paddles, hats, etc. It is also acceptable to attempt – while drunk – a faux-karate chop to its head. Other Note: When equipped with sunglasses and some gangster rap, this terra cotta warrior is a fucking badass. Head or not.
All in all, Maryland was good to us. We did eventually take out the canoe (successfully), drank boatloads of sangria and had nothing but thanks for TOM GAGE and his hospitality. We headed back to NY with Laura at the wheel, jumping radio stations every ten to fifteen seconds. We drove mostly on the shoulder, and when Laura hit a speed bump a little too fast on the streets of Bethesda, MD, there were tears in Vivian’s eyes, at least for a second.*
*I should note that it is impolite to criticize your host’s driving skills, but it is never impolite to pray for God’s mercy from the backseat, albeit silently.
I then proceeded to spend the rest of my money in NY, eating Afghani food and having tricksy cocktail waitresses lure my friends and I into getting drunk on expensive beverages. By the time I got back on the bus bound for Boston, I was tired, in debt, but overall quite satisfied with my grown-up holiday. Now if I could only figure out a way to do this all the time, I would appreciate the responsibilities of being an adult.
Though that’s not likely.