Wednesday, October 17, 2007

De Rerum Natura - On the Nature of Things

Another day; another cabana -- this one facing the deep blue sea. I've been watching an outrigger, manned by a group of inept oarsmen, as it tracks in random patterns along the shore. DH is down there somewhere with flippers and a snorkel, but I'm too far from the crest of the hill to see the beach. In addition to my laptop, I have a cup of tea, a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and "The Whole World Over" by Julia Glass. In the last 15 minutes, someone has brought me a drinks menu, a lunch menu, and a spa menu -- a Pacific Mango foot massage is sounding pretty enticing just now. The sun is behind me, and I can feel my back turning lobster in spite of the 50 SPF I put on when I came out this morning, so I am all set to ponder one of the great questions of life: how in the hell did I get to be this old without a proper appreciation of the joys of a holiday in paradise?


It's not as if I've never been to a beach or to a nice hotel -- au contraire -- I've been to many and I've enjoyed the experiences. The difference between those trips and this one appears to be that the others were sort of ... incidental. DH had a conference in Orlando, so we went to Disney World; he had a conference in Point Clear, Alabama, so we went to Destin; he had a business meeting in Paris, so we sampled the pleasures of the Champs d'Elyssee and the Georges V. When we lived in Seattle before, Cannon Beach and Santa Barbara were easy trips down the coast. My cousin got married in Annapolis, and we stopped off in Washington DC for a few days. In fact, the only trips we took that were truly intentional were two trips to England, both of which were on my initiative, and one weekend in Breckenridge so DH could ski on his 40th birthday.

Most everyone we know takes vacations like the one we're having now, but we never did. And the reason why? Me. I am the reason why we never made a point of having fun. Oh wait -- we did have fun; we just didn't make a point of it -- because ... because ... because ... oh hell; I don't know why, but now that I know it, it bears considering. Mai tais are very helpful when consideration is required, so I am fortunate to have one right here when I need it.

It is an odd thing to suddenly realise that you've been going along in your life, doing things you've wanted to do, or you've thought needed doing, but taking a pass on other things that would have enriched the rest. And for no obvious reason! I love the beach -- always have done -- I grew up spending summers on the beach in Florida and the sea and sand hold nothing but positive memories for me. But although DH always wanted to plan beach vacations, I would hold out for English castles or places like The Greenbrier or the Biltmore. Our friends went to Mexico, the Carribean, Hawaii, and on cruises, but we stuck to our incidental trips or stayed home because I was too picky about where we would go. I nearly even derailed this holiday by fixating on the Jamaica Inn. Only God knows why because the flights would have been three times as long and this is the height of the hurricane season in the Carribean. And I have never been to either Jamaica or Hawaii, so why on earth would I be so convinced that the Jamaica Inn would be better than the Four Seasons Maui? DUH!

I suspect the underlying reason for my idiocy (aside from just being an idiot, which I don't deny) is an unconscious echo of the attitudes I frequently hear about popular fiction. i.e., that it's trashy, a guilty pleasure, dumbed down, not real literature, the literary equivalent of McDonald's -- junk for the masses. But how utterly stupid. I *am* the masses! I love to read ... everything. And really, how do you tell the difference? I was in Borders the other day and I noticed a lot of books with pink covers and titles like "This is Not Chick Lit" and "The Starter Wife" were shelved in the "Literature" section along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Philippa Gregory and Sharon K. Penman's books were in the Romance section.

Well screw that. My new resolution is that from now on, I'm going to go to the beach; I'm going to read whatever the hell I want (no matter what section it's shelved in); and I'm going to work very hard to overcome the limitations of a closed mind. I may even go to McDonald's once in a while. And I'm going to enjoy it, dammit.


Gillian said...

I'm going to celebrate that enjoyment with you, dammit :). (I love it that you're planning to have more happiness.)

Taminator said...

Love it! You might be becoming an adult or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Enjoy! And know I'm envious.