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Vacation Me

It was only 5:30 in the morning, but I was awake already. It was neither an alarm nor a bad dream that roused me; I’d simply slept enough and the sunrise was calling me. My still-unconscious friends were undisturbed as I changed into the clothes I’d pulled out of my suitcase the night before. I tied up my sneakers, filled up my water bottle, grabbed my phone and key card, and practically ran down the hotel hallway. I couldn't stand being inside a minute longer. I headed down the canal trail under the sapphire blue sky. The sun emerged from behind Camelback Mountain and made a silhouette of everything in front of me.

Vacation turns me into the person I aspire to be. When I’m at home, 5:30 looks more like a grumbling lump under a pile of blankets, an orange cat at the foot of the bed, and a loud and irritating alarm that has been snoozed almost to its maximum allotment. My hiking shoes sit hopefully by the door, pitiful under a thin layer of dust. “Tomorrow,” I always say as I hit the snooze button, but tomorrow is always too cold or too rainy or I have to be at work early or… well, there’s always something.

While on vacation, however, that Vacation Me did everything the right way. After my early morning walk, I met my friends in the hotel lounge and had breakfast with them on the patio next to the fire pit. We leisurely drank coffee and laughed, amused as the resident birds tried to sneak up on us and steal our chocolate croissants. We didn't discuss our schedules for the weekend because we had none. At home, the Real Me would have scarfed a bowl of cereal and made coffee to go while mentally sorting out my obligations for the day.

I brought along a book, two magazines, the Wall Street Journal, and my notebook, but I didn't read or write a single word. Instead, I spent the down time catching up with my friends. I got a massage. I sat in the spa lounge sipping Arnold Palmers. I sat in an Adirondack chair and sipped coffee. I sat by the fire pit and sipped wine. I sat by the pool and sipped nothing, staring into the sky at the palm trees against the blue. At home, there would have been no relaxing. There's always a million things to do other than sitting and sipping.

I ate my weight (or so it felt) in guacamole and tacos. I drank a prickly pear margarita. Make that two prickly pear margaritas. Wait, make that three… I almost forgot the frozen margarita in the hot tub while waiting for Jonathan, the cabana boy, to bring us our poolside lunch. At home, lunch would have been steamed veggies and rice, and there would definitely have been no Jonathan.

I even had thoughts I would have never considered at home: I hatched a plan to slip my phone number to that handsome cabana boy. I decided I would write it on the receipt after he brought the bill. My friends and I even started making logistical arrangements for this anticipated tryst. If his shift ended around dinnertime, it would work out perfectly! But my planning was thwarted by Jonathan himself when he came over to our spot and told us that our lunch and tip were covered entirely by our vouchers. He had no bill or receipt to give to us. And my book, two magazines, WSJ, notebook, and pen were far, far away in the hotel room. At home, I would have had at least three pens within arm's reach.

Fortunately, I had one more chance that evening at the restaurant. Our waiter, Shawn, was fun, flirtatious, and adorable. He was also young enough to channel Mrs. Robinson, but I was on a mission now. With the help of my prepared and resourceful friends, I got my hands on a pen (a lip liner) and a drink napkin. Once embellished with my information, I hid the napkin under my plate to leave behind when it was time to leave. A few minutes later, Shawn came around to clear our plates, unintentionally taking the napkin with him.

Did he notice the writing on the napkin? Did he even see the napkin at all? I would never know, but I wasn't concerned about that. Rather, I was thrilled that the Vacation Me was taking such a bold social risk, uncharacteristic for the Real Me. When I’m at home, I am shy and awkward, constantly fighting social anxiety. But this weekend, I owned it. Now I need to figure out how to always own it.

Shawn probably didn't see that napkin. But if I ever happen to receive a call from a strange 480 number, of course I’m answering it.


  1. A good vacation really brings out our best doesn't it? Like you I'm up as early as possible because I don't want to miss a minute of it.

  2. I want someone to bring me lunch by the pool!! Great story.

  3. That trip sounds fantastic, so glad you head a great time. Jonathan and Shawn totally missed out.

  4. I love the Vacation Me v Real Me. Vacation Me used to get me in all sorts of trouble.

  5. Your at-home 5:30am looks almost exactly like my at-home 5:30am - the only difference is my cat is grey!

    You have me thinking about my own Vacation Me. I don't get to see her very often, and when I do now, she's accompanied by my Vacation Daughter, so there are no margaritas or cabana boys, but I still very much live the way I wish I did at home. . . . This was a great reminder to work on the bringing the Vacation Me home!

  6. Good luck with taking more social risks with your Real Me!

  7. i love vacation you! i was totally relaxing as you unwound. i always have books and pens and writing and a brain going a mile a minute, but i really wanted to be you here. lovely.

  8. Vacation You is the real you. You can do it! Lovely piece, super fun to read.

  9. Now I really want to go on vacation! Your Vacation Me sounds like the opposite of my Vacation Me. I turn into a sloth on vacations even though I'm a pretty busy and energetic person in "real life." In any event, I want to go on vacation...

  10. I want to vacation with your vacation me! Sounds like an awesome time!

  11. This is a great story. I adore that you wrote your number on the napkin with a lip liner.

  12. Your vacation sounds fabulous! I love that Vacation You is so bold and willing to go for what she wants no matter the outcome. Fun times, great story!

  13. Sounds delightful! And how brave you were to write your number down :)

  14. Ha ha! I love the comparison of vacation-you to real-you... I don't know that I can say the same about vacation-me, but next time I have the chance, I will take a cue from this post!!

  15. This is so true! Why is it only on vacation do we feel the freedom to be ourselves? The whole time I was reading this I was nodding my head, saying "yup" and laughing because I am the same way. Nicely done!

  16. Good on you for going beyond your comfort zone and enjoying the Vacation You. It sounds like a fabulous time!

  17. Sounds like you took full advantage of the freedom vacation is meant to be. I'll bet plain old vanilla life was a little more interesting afterward, too. (PS: I know that mountain!)

  18. I love Scottsdale. I also have a Vacation Me that is so cool and chill. I like the feistiness of yours and damn right you'll pick up that 408. Great read!

  19. Wouldn't it be great if we could be Vacation-Us more often?


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