It's done, for real, now that we're back home. We half-jokingly called this our second honeymoon, but even if it was less than four years since our actual honeymoon, I'd say it's an accurate description. Diana and I have pretty much had a constant whirlwind of a life since we met. It was time to take our first multi-day trip without Simon, leaving him with my in-laws. It was long overdue.
Originally, we were strongly considering Las Vegas. There just aren't many places you can go that are quite that adult. When your movie references are replaced with Sesame Street references, and you think the hottest actress on TV is also on that program, it's time to get out and look for something vulgar. However, a perfect storm of ideal circumstances led us to Walt Disney World. It started with the math of Vegas, where the rooms are cheap, but every show is $100 a piece, good food is also not cheap, and frankly the flights were not cheap or convenient from anywhere in the vicinity of my in-laws. Then we found super cheap flights to MCO from GSP, and Disney sent a well-timed promo flyer that knocked off about a third of the cost to stay in a good room. OK, sold.
We stayed at the Beach Club Resort, literally a few hundred yards from Epcot's World Showcase entrance, and I'll write more about that later.
I'm not sure if we even realized it, but Diana and I desperately needed some time to really reconnect. I don't think we were drifting apart of anything, but we certainly weren't finding opportunities to really give each other our due attention. Work and being parents can obfuscate a relationship. Having five entire days (and six nights, considering the travel) where we could do whatever we wanted together, and not have to look after our little person, was fantastic. Going through airport security was easy with less stuff. We never had to park a stroller. Meals (and drinks) were when and where we wanted. The only accountability we had was to each other.
Probably the biggest take-away from the experience was that we need to make more time like this. If that means paying out the nose for trusted babysitters now and then, so be it. If it means a hot tub lunch date while Simon is at school, that's OK too.
For me, there were additional layers of reflection, placed squarely on me during the 9 hours of driving from North Carolina back home. Home, as it stands, is elusive. I feel so comfortable and at home when staying in my in-laws' house, but my own house, that cursed structure that I couldn't sell after two years in Washington, represents a lot of the things about my life that I don't like. I'm more anxious than ever to be rid of it and living elsewhere. And yet I need to wait a bit longer before that's a financially responsible course to take.
The vacation also reminds me of my career dissatisfaction. Hanging out with one of my best friends, however briefly, always reminds me that some people love what they do. I love my field, and doing what I'm capable of doing, but I'm not currently doing it. I'm bored, and don't feel like I'm being challenged or moving forward. Fortunately, this is one thing that I'm already working on, and I do see that change is possible.
That's one of the things that isn't obvious about vacations. When you take a really incredible trip, it helps give you the perspective that if the "real life" you go back to is something that evokes even the smallest amount of dread, you obviously need to change some of it. I flatly reject the notion that you have to suffer or hate your day job or components of your daily life to make your weekends seem great. Same thing with retirement. If you view the journey as suffering so you can have a couple of decades living a life of leisure, you're doing it wrong.
Our last week and a half was epic. We missed Simon, but I think the time spent away from him will only make the time going forward that much better. It will also, hopefully, server as the genesis of more balance in our lives.