By Craig Hastings
So Shannon had been gone for the past three weeks. Her sister was getting married in California the second week of March and the first week was spent preparing for the grand day. The third week would be spent with many members of the family in a vacation home rented by the family also in California. I’ve never vacationed more than 10 days away from Tuscola in my whole life. Brother Randy and I spent 10 days in Las Vegas with our parents I believe back in the early 90’s, but it was a different time in my life. Casinos, bright lights, and the exciting night life Las Vegas had to offer was the vacation I was looking for back then. Being away from my own stuff was no big deal. After all, I was living in an apartment so how much did I really own? Age, children, and mental maturity grasp hold of me as I entered my forties, and I’ve never looked back even when given many opportunities.
No, three days is about all the time I can stand being away from the security of my fort. I turned 62 while Shannon was gone and a sense of security is what an old guy needs. Twenty-one days in California would not have been a vacation for a hermit like myself. Shannon’s family really enjoys these get togethers and manage to vacation once or twice a year. Boring I am. What I do get from an empty home is a chance to think. I’m living in the first and only home I’ve ever owned but more importantly, the very home my children were brought after being born. Looking at old pictures and videos don’t carry near the memory treasures that living in the very home my children roamed 16 years ago. You see, I tried my best to be as much their brother as their father. We did everything together regardless of how bad I might hurt for three days after.
I’ve talked about the green luminous stars, moons, and space ships that you can stick on ceilings. They come in a package of about 50, and I stuck every one of them on each of the boys’ ceilings when they were little. Of course this caused me to run in and out of their bedrooms with a flashlight to recharge the glow after they were told to turn off the overhead lights before bed. I think it was about four years ago Payton asked me to take some of them down. This was after some of his friends began to visit. I don’t know if anything was ever said to him about the glowing outer space ceiling in his room or maybe he was just making sure nothing ever would. Lukas’ room still glows but after all these years, just not as bright as it once did. He hasn’t said a word….yet.
Here’s where you get to laugh at me. The day I grounded all of Payton’s stars and moons from his ceiling I couldn’t just throw them away; too many memories. I used to lay in their beds with them in the dark. and we would share “what if” stories about planets and stars. These conversations always turned into Star Wars movie memories. The three of us watched the Star Wars movie sago over and over and over. So why would you laugh? Because I took eight of my favorite green glowing outer space stickies and put them on the ceiling in my bedroom directly in my sight line if looking straight up laying in bed. Too much? Maybe, but they’re still there tonight as I write this, and that’s where they will stay for years to come unless something happens to me and so on and so on.
Each night or day I would move from room to room, pick out one small childhood artifact that remains in one of their rooms and connect the memory dots tracing that piece from how it came to be part of our lives and what role it played when they were children. I don’t do this nearly as much when Shannon is here. Maybe it’s because we talk about so many other things that when I go to bed the only thoughts roaming through my brain are topics of the day. Isn’t a vacation a break in the action from work AND our normal daily routines? If so, then when Shannon is gone on vacation I’m at home on vacation. I don’t have to go somewhere to be on vacation. A change of scenery does not a vacation make for me. A simple change of routine and a quiet home at night causes me to reminisce the very best memories of my life. Traveling down memory lane is the vacation I take each year…many times a year.
I’m someone that doesn’t need to be there to enjoy the beautiful wonders Mother Nature provides for our viewing. No, I can enjoy these sights just as much on a 65′ HD screen sitting in my recliner or spread out on my couch with big glass of sweet tea. My dad used to load the seven of us up in the family station wagon and off through Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada we would drive. The scenery was magnificent! Souvenirs that you couldn’t get anywhere else were purchased from roadside stands. These were truly fantastic family vacations but…. Today I can see all the wonders of the world on HD video, and I can see them much better than I could if I traveled to each location. Souvenirs I can buy off of E bay and more of them. And, I don’t have to wait in line, be hot, be cold, be thirsty, needing a restroom, smelling the people in front and behind me, or listening to the endless babbling of those same people.
Folks, I’m a boring guy for sure, but this is me and I won’t change. I’ve talked about maybe one day traveling to Yellowstone National Park because I’ve never been there. I may have changed my mind. I’m thinking I could compensate one of you something should you go. Here’s what I would do; let’s agree to a fair monetary amount and then when you get to the most memorable sights in the park, Facetime me on your phone and scan the magnificent views as I watch in real time on my phone! You could narrate live as we watched together and maybe you could pan over to some of the other vacationers saying and doing ridiculous things like some do. This touch would add a real sense of really being there for me right!? For sure, I won’t go broke spending my money traveling on exotic vacations.