Right now, we are on vacation with my extended dance mix family. I could write a book about this, but I’m still in the sunscreened throws of it, in a house with 12 other humans, and I’m drunk on homemade ice cream.
It’s interesting being an adult on a family vacation. This is a relatively new thing for me, and it’s a totally different experience from what I remember.
For starters, there are little girls everywhere, and most of them are screaming. They’re cute, but they’re screaming.
There are also a lot of details to cover as an adult with a lot of kids on vacation.
Details like sleep schedules, SPF numbers, who’s in charge of dinner tonight.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still vacation, it’s fun and more peaceful than a board meeting… but I don’t remember all this detail coordination back in the day. As far as I recall, our biggest concern at any point was when, where, and how we could get in the pool.
Oh the luxuries of youth…
There were three kids in our family in the 80s, and now, three decades later, there are six grandkids assembled. Six cousins. (Ages: six months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 7 years and 9 years.) All girls, except ours. We are all sharing a four-bedroom house at the edge of a remote deer-filled pecan orchard, only steps away from the coldest river in Texas. And to the delight of everyone, there is also a pool.
It’s been a few decades, but as I remember summer and family vacations, it’s really just a haze of sunscreen, a fair amount of candy, and a soundtrack of some kind…Grease, Urban Cowboy, Footloose, it just depended on the year.
And though I don’t remember many details, I remember the feeling. The new (to us) rent house…which bed would be mine and would it be good for jumping? The feeling of hot evenings…cold grass at our feet, warm air circulating through cicada filled trees, the smell of the water swirling together with the smell of the backyard grill next door.
And that one summer, when I was about 13, I remember going to the pool everyday, hoping that one boy would be there (and freaking out on the inside when he was), the pounding of my heart meeting the constant play of Def Leppard’s Pyromania.
Circumstantially, just last week, I saw a preview of The Way, Way Back with my friend Rachel. Neither of us really knew anything about the film before we saw it, and I was surprised to find myself way, way back in 1983.
The movie is actually set in present tense, but they take you back to a nostalgic feeling of summers past…the way they shot this thing, the setting, the soundtrack, the coming of age…they did such a great job (the writing is really good) of bringing back the feeling you had in the 8-track, Atari summers of Goonies, The Karate Kid and Flashdance.
The movie made me long for summers of yesteryear. Family vacations when we drove in my parents’ station wagon, my brother and I in the jump seats in the way, way back, playing cards as we viewed the world behind. Waking up whenever we wanted, eating Honeycomb cereal and begging our parents to take us to the water park. That’s exactly where the movie took me.
And two days later, I left for this present tense family vacation. I’ve been watching these kids closely over the last few days, especially the oldest two. Building forts, jumping off rope swings, catching fireflies, making smores.
We still have all the interesting years in front of us…a spanned decade of the coming of age, the tortured youth, the first loves. And I can’t wait to spend summers in this house as they all muddle their way through all that. It’s going to be fun to watch.
In the meantime, I wonder how many details they’ll remember. I’m guessing not many. But I’m betting they’ll remember the feeling. The careless days of open possibilities. The water fun. And the coolest aunt ever, who had a great soundtrack for the trip…and who would let them eat as much homemade chocolate ice cream as they could stomach.