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"I'll be gone until I'm not gone anymore."

Denial is the first stage of vacation. The few days leading up to departure swell with stiff-arming tactics. The list of preparatory must-dos grows as one thing, then another blunts apparent progress. By the morning before, I face a numbing blank wall of possibilities I feel certain might hang us up for at least a day. By the night before, that list reduced to a final one or two, I resign myself to the high likelihood that we might even leave on time.

I figure the unknown blunts me. It slows me down, disabling whatever others experience as excitement at the prospect.
The present status quo throws off extra powerful gravity in the days before we're scheduled to go anywhere. I quietly draft dog-ate-my-homework quality excuses in my head, knowing any delay would first appear to be my fault. I want any delay to appear to have been an act of god, not just me. My foot shuffling only rarely ever works. When The Muse sets her mind to something, like leaving Sunday morning, I understand that even gods cede any power they might otherwise hold to deflect our trajectory. We're leaving.

Vacations always seemed a sort of punishment to me. I have never maintained a bucket list and usually, simply staying at home satisfies whatever modest wanderlust I hold. I figure that the world and its most prominent charms live wherever I live and not in some great out there somewhere. I've packed my bag so many times before that I complete that little task in a cool half hour just before we leave. The novelty of sleeping in someone's guest bed wore off decades ago. I know I'll be fine once we hit the road and that I'll even enjoy the visit, but the anticipation of the fuss and feathers of leaving never lifts my heart.

In the week leading up to the planned departure date, I uncover a fresh pile of urgent unfinished business, much of which will remain unfinished even after we return. I constantly check the weather, vaguely hoping a tropical cyclone might somehow visit the upper Plains. Homebodies defend their right to stay home. I anticipate endless hours wrestling with stupid slow-moving semis and capricious winds. I see myself as traffic, part of the problem when I could have been part of the solution. Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat treats me with all the well-deserved respect due any traitor. She'll spend over-long hours quietly shedding in one of her corners with nobody to scratch that satisfying spot beneath her neck. I'll be gone until I'm not gone anymore. Denial is the first stage of vacation.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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