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What I didn’t do on vacation (02/27/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

John and I just returned from a week away from work, our first vacation in three years, and it felt really good. But I’m finding I don’t vacation the way most people do. We met up with an old friend of ours, and he introduced us to other friends of his staying at our hotel.

The first evening, we gathered to watch the sunset, a thing that never bores me — the slipping away of the sun from our lives to go shine on someone else for twenty-four hours. The women were talking about what they had planned for the next day, and asked me if I would like to join them for a long walk and maybe shopping in the morning. I explained that I have to use a cane to walk long distances so couldn’t join them.

The next day, we passed them on our way to eat breakfast in the dining room, a little before noon. They were finishing lunch. John later went to the pool to swim, and I stayed in the room to read. I was finishing up John Grisham’s “The Confession” (okay, but no “The Firm”), and I long ago abandoned sitting in the sun and getting a burn just so I could prove to my friends back home that I’d been in a warmer climate. That evening we went again to watch the sunset. and the following day was structured about the same way.

On our third full day of vacation, our new friends asked if we’d like to join them for a trip to a beautiful beach north of town, one of our favorites. As I knew I’d be able to find shade, and that on Mexican beaches shopping comes to you, we gladly joined them. I read in a hammock in the shade, and joined the rest of the group for lunch.

“What do you do all day?” asked one of the women.

“Um, nothing,” I answered. “Read.”

“What do you do in the morning? We never see you until noon!”

“Um, nothing,” I answered. “Read. Sleep. We went into town yesterday and bought an egg crate foam mattress pad.” The beds were too hard for my fake hips, and sleeping all night in the hammock on our balcony was kind of creepy, even though I did get some sleep.

“Nothing?” they asked. “Don’t you get bored?”

I can honestly say that during a week of doing nothing except for moving from one hammock to another to read and then to bed, I was never bored. I figured they’d understand, as I’d seen them carrying books around.

They didn’t understand at all.

“Don’t you want to get a tan?” they asked.

“I’ve wanted a tan my entire life,” I said. “But I’ve never gotten anything but a burn, and now I have to make regular trips to the dermatologist for removal of sun damage.”

I could tell they felt bad for me. They let me sit in the middle seat of the van on the way to and from the beach while they sat in the back. They wanted to help me up the stairs and stuff like that. I think they figured someone who did nothing but read all day long in the shade must have something wrong with her. One of the men gave me some of the paperbacks he’d finished reading after I was done reading Colm Toibin’s “Brooklyn,” which I would highly recommend. I gave him “The Confession.”

When we left the hotel for home, we all hugged goodbye and said we hoped we’d see them again next year. I’m going to work really hard to get rid of my cane by then. I think they want to vacation with people who are upright more than three hours a day.



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