Vacation Malaise

September 12, 2006

I’m getting ready to take a week’s vacation with my father in Oregon, and I am finding myself somewhat down. Normally in the days before a trip I’d be up and excited, but this trip is different on many levels and for many reasons.

Except for a brief three-day jaunt last January, this will be the first trip I’ve had without Michele. Since we were unable to take trips the last couple years of her life, largely due to circumstances beyond our control, I am discovering some quilt at taking a trip now. I keep telling myself that I deserve some time off, but that doesn’t completely ease my guilt.

This will be the first trip I’ve taken with my father in a number of years. He and I have take a couple of vacations together before, always with good results. My relationship with my father has undergone some major shifts in the intervening years. We have found ourselves at odds more than a few times, but we have also found new connections, most recently through shared loss. Like me, he is venturing back out into the real world following the loss of his wife.

Recently my life has taken a wonderful turn for the better. Without going into the details, I find myself in a quandary. Going to Oregon is a good thing, and I am grateful for the opportunity, but it means being separated from someone very special and important to me. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, anticipation of absence makes it grow pensive and anxious.

So the feelings I’m having tonight looking ahead to my trip are mixed: a combination of happy and sad, grateful and guilty, pleased and pensive. I think the balance is on the side of good; moreover I think it is perhaps more evolved to recognize the full spectrum of emotions around an event and not just the ones we want to feel.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.