Vacations at Home

oak tree in a park

Can you remember your last vacation? The sun warming your skin, or snow misting across your face? My last travels took me to Paris and the south of France, but my last vacation was this morning.

I’ve seen several people talking about taking vacations in their mind (shout out to Debi Mazar’s Spain mind-vacay today), and I love doing this too! But there is something absolutely cell-changing about getting visceral with it.

Today I stood out on the balcony surrounded by green leaves, and I shut my mind to the construction next door and the beige building across the way. I closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face, its warmth kissing my nose and cheeks and bare arms. I listened to the birds chirping, the wind rustling through the trees. And I was back in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. I recalled the salty smell of the beach down the road, remembered the rich, sweet tang of fresh coconut water from a just-tapped coconut. I opened my eyes and let the verdant green from the trees and grasses and bushes nearby overwhelm me. For 10 minutes, I was back in the buzzing jungle. My muscles softened, my face relaxed. It was incredible.

I remember the first time I visited the Eiffel Tower. I was struck by how this intricate, stunning monument was surrounded by office buildings! Yes, there is a park and greenery, but from every direction rippling outward are office buildings. I thought, “If I worked next to the Eiffel Tower, I would awestruck every time I looked out the window.” But then I though, “I don’t stare like that at Atlanta’s skyline. I don’t gaze in awe at the Skyview Ferris Wheel. I walk by countless statues and parks and installations every day downtown and barely give them a glance.”

So when I went home, I noticed. I made a point of noticing. I usually walk quickly and with purpose, keeping my eyes on my path. This was the time my vision began diminishing again, so it was important I pay attention to the ground in front of me. Yet, it was equally important that I take in the details of the world while I still could. Never are the colors of this Earth so lovely as when either you know you may soon lose them or you have just gained them back.

Now, I regularly like to imagine I’m back in Paris while walking my dog through the main strip of businesses near my home. I key in on the bits of architecture that feel cosmopolitan, I let go of the tasks awaiting me later in the day, and I stroll the way I would when exploring a new city. Wandering is already one of my favorite parts of vacation – the freedom to go slow and make discoveries – so doing this in my own city is like giving myself permission to relax and just be. Appreciating what is already around me can feel just as peaceful and invigorating as stepping out of the airport into a new culture.

Even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

Published by alexandracpauley

Writer, Political Scientist, Human living & thriving with RA & CPTSD

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