How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Gosh do I wish it were this orange around here...

Gosh do I wish it were this orange around here...

I've been on vacation for the past two weeks, and it's been a fascinating period of both relaxation and self-discovery. Really, I think the two are inextricably linked; life with anxiety, life as a mass transit commuter, and life in the modern era all combine to mean that I don't have as much time to gaze into my own navel as I might like. But give me two straight weeks to do whatever I want, and I learn a lot about myself. What ensues is me, processing.

This vacation was centered around and began with the third anniversary of Sonya and I getting married, and that has been at the center of my thoughts the entire time. I knew already, but this vacation confirmed that S. is my absolute favorite person in the whole world, and that I have a level of comfort around her I don't around anybody else. Everything we do is heightened by it being with her -- even things I don't actually need a partner to do, like watch TV or play video games. We spent this anniversary at the Mountain View public library, just reading and knitting and writing and being together, with brunch, a picnic, and tapas to break it up; it is tied only by the other two anniversary celebrations for sheer joyful celebrations. I love you, sweetie.

While the season hasn't officially, this vacation has also proven I am definitively an autumn person; it's not just because of my birthday or our anniversary or Halloween. One morning, I was having trouble sleeping, so I took a walk and found myself overjoyed at the first signs of the season in the air. The crisp air, the colored leaves, a mix of cool-but-sunny days and cloudy days, pumpkin- and apple-flavored everything. I'm looking excitedly at my stack of sweaters and my flannel button-downs and hoping that soon there will come a day when I need them to protect me from the elements. I'm also transitioning myself from cold-brew coffee to breakfast tea in the mornings, and starting up my now-yearly cozy autumn run at Agatha Christie's Poirot (a quest I'm so dedicated to we subscribed to another streaming service just to get at the older seasons). This has me more certain than ever that long-term, I need to move to more northerly latitudes -- not so high I get nothing but mood-obliterating rain, but something that won't charbroil me in the California sun every summer.

Staying somewhat topical to this blog, this vacation has also reaffirmed the place writing holds in my life. There have been days this vacation when I have not wanted to write; there have been days when I haven't, even, though only my allotted two days off per week (not counting Labor Day weekend with my family). But every day I do write, I feel complete, like a head rub and a chocolate chip cookie and a shower all at once. It never exhausts me, and only writer's block makes it distress me. This is what I am meant to be doing with some of my time on Earth, even if it never advances me past this point in fame or fortune. I even find myself missing blogging, which anyone who followed me from my WordPress site will know is a bit of a shocker; hopefully you'll be hearing from me more often.

Related: This vacation has helped me realize how important stories are to me. Our original plan for this break was to clear out our Steam backlog, and we've taken a crack at that. So far we've shotgunned nearly all of EarthBound, and finished off our two-years-in-the-making run at Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall; we're also getting into the second half of Broken Age, though whether we finish that delightfully weird fairytale before we have to go back to Capitalism City on Thursday is up in the air. We've also gone and seen a couple of our favorite films on the big screen, courtesy of Fathom Events -- Close Encounters of the Third Kind to begin the vacation, and The Castle of Cagliostro last week -- and devoured all of the most recent season of Elementary, my first-ever viewing of The Maltese Falcon, and two seasons of The Great British Baking Show. All of this has me inspired and comforted, and it's very reaffirming to see that yes, in a vacuum, with no job stress leaning on me, stories, in any form, are a comfort and a joy. (Also, seriously, The Great British Baking Show is going straight into my self-care files, that show is a delight of kindness and empathy and also beautiful foodcraft.)

Which brings me to my final point: job stress, or rather, what the lack of it has allowed me to do. Quieting the noise in my head has really helped me see what about my job has been stressing me out so very much, and that was actually a catalyst for dredging up a lot of toxic garbage in my head. You all aren't my therapists, so I'll spare you paragraphs of detail, but I'll say this: that advice I keep giving about how we're all allowed to end a relationship with anybody for any reason has been resonating very hard with me. Not my relationship with Sonya -- obviously -- but the many people whom, over 2016 and 2017, I either slowly faded away from or outright purged from my life (stopped inviting to things, blocked on all social media, the works). I occasionally feel guilty, but the truth is that most of them were part of a long, long line of abusers, cynics, and/or just plain incompatible personalities who were kind of awful to me or those friends I have chosen to keep. My social circle has shrunk significantly, but it's also a better place to be and one in which I feel more comfortable being myself and inviting others to partake. Seeing that has also helped me realize that certain situations adjacent to work but not directly work-related (read: issues with outside parties, not my co-workers and bosses) really are okay for me to be upset about, as long as I handle them maturely as an employee (read: don't pop off or betray any confidences). I feel more sure of who I am and what things I deserve (in both cases, nice).

The summary: I like what my life is and who I am as 2017 winds up into its final quarter, and I hope I can extend this same peace, joy, and sense of rightness to some of the world outside my bubble. There are awful people out there, but I have real hope that the forces of goodness and empathy can buckle down and win the war, if not every battle. I'm grateful for the wonderful people I know, and all the stories I get to tell and to read, and for my wonderful wife with whom I get to share the rest of my existence. The day after tomorrow is the return to work, and I think, just maybe, I am ready for another adventure.

Tyler Dent HayesComment