Last week, an article came out in the New York Times called ‘The Busy Trap‘, which discussed just how ridiculously busy (and proud of it) we Americans are. We accept a million freelance gigs, overload our kids with after school activities, and, in my case, are single mothers, full-time writers, novelists, travel-planners… Essentially, the fellow who wrote the article talked about how we segment every hour of our waking lives into activity sessions (and, in my view, set the alarm way too early in order to GO, GO, GO!
I, for one, am guilty of this sort of thing. In New York, my friends praise me for simultaneously raising my kid, volunteering at my kid’s school, helping friends with writing projects, waking early in the morning to work on my own books, managing my finances and scraping together cash for my kid’s various activities. They laugh over the fact that I still manage to have an active dating life, and admire how I seem to hold it all together. What they don’t often see is that I often have to let things fall by the wayside. Important things. Like going to the doctor. Or to Muay Thai classes. You know, the little things. Like staying healthy. In New York, it often felt like there simply wasn’t time for such things. I told myself that our trip this summer would be different. That I’d slow down and really enjoy things.
In Paris, we strolled along the Seine. So far, so good. We ate ice cream and sat in a few cafes. But then we visited the Louvre. We went to Versailles and Monet’s gardens at Giverny, walked up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, and even sank into the depths of the city to visit the Sewage Museum. We rushed to dinners and hurried awake in the morning so that we might see more.
I vowed that Switzerland would be different. Yet even after an amazing time relaxing with family in the Alps in Switzerland, we were on vacation crash. Visiting Venice confirmed this sentiment, as all we wanted to do was wander the streets, stare at goofy tourists, and eat loads of gelato. We walked past the Guggenheim (which I had always wanted to visit) and I didn’t even point it out to the kid. Quite simply, a month into our trip, we had gotten to the point where we no longer wanted to see anything besides plates laden with delicious food. We wanted to lounge, sit by the sea and get tan. The kid wanted granitas, and I wanted to drink something sweet and alcoholic and forget that my expensive art history degree has basically mandated my DNA to make me drool over anything in marble or slathered over canvas. We wanted- get this- to RELAX (anyone who knows me understands how difficult it is for me to do this)!
Rimini, Italy, was just what the vacation doctor ordered. We spent ten delicious days soaking up the sun at beaches along the Adriatic coast, eating way too much, and making new, wonderful friends. I learned that travel doesn’t mean I have to be providing educational experiences for my kid- at least, not every single day. There’s much to be said about settling in a bit, feeling how a city breathes, spending time with locals and just watching the waves.
Actually, there’s much to be said for “settling in.” By interacting with people more, and doing “less,” my daughter learned a lot of Italian. She rode a bike for the first time in nearly a year. She spent quality time catching up with our friend, Viola. And, without even trying, she learned about the old Roman ruins scattered around the city. She walked across the 2000-year-old Tiberius Bridge. She learned how to make a couple of new foods, and became more confident in the kitchen. She learned more about many movements in history (i.e. fascism). Yes, folks, my kid learned while we were in our swimming suits. She even learned in the evenings while I had an alcoholic beverage in my hand. Without further ado, some photos of our gluttany:
And just so you don’t think it was all fun and games, some “cultural” photos:
I think the real take-away from our time in Rimini was to slow down, enjoy what we were doing, and not feel like we had to see everything that had ever been planted into the earth. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was the Tiberius Bridge. But we managed to learn about both of them during our time in Rimini, without even trying! Living in New York for so long, it took a little while to realize that the fast pace of our lives wasn’t particularly normal. It feels good to have learned this lesson, and I’m sure my daughter will appreciate having a mother who can now manage to spend a day riding bikes without feeling like something is missing.