Meelyn and Aisling are leaving on Sunday morning to go on a weeks' vacation with Nanny and Poppy, their three cousins and Uncle Pat and Aunt Angie. This is the first time they will be away from me for more than two days (I leave during the annual CousinFest with Lilly, Carol and Susie); this time, they are going to be gone for seven whole days and six whole nights and other people will be listening to their incessant quarreling over whose turn it is to rinse off the corn-on-the-cob pokers and whose job it is to carry my blue foam water float from the car to the pool (I already carry the cooler and my bag full of twenty-seven different Shakespeare books.)
I am really going to miss them and I try not to think about it because I keep getting something stuck in the back of my throat that feels like a tennis ball, only furrier. I'm really kind of hoping that they'll spend the next four days being absolutely unbearable, with lots of huffing and saying, "Okay, now that she told you that big bunch of lies, let me tell you what really happened," and feet stomping up the stairs, so that when we take them to Nanny and Poppy's on Sunday morning, all we'll feel the need to do is stop briefly in the driveway, offload them in a bum's rush sort of way, and then burn rubber in the minivan, riding back home listening to Lenny Kravitz belting out "Fly Away" with the windows down and rejoicing in our freedom from bickering.
But most likely, anticipating the impending separation, they'll cease hostilities and be adorable for the next one hundred and sixteen hours, which will cause me to stand in my parents' driveway long after the van full of waving arms has pulled away, moodily inspecting the asphalt for signs of their footprints that I can bend down and touch, and then driving back home in silence punctuated only by long, wet, drawn-out sniffles from me and occasional comments about the height of the corn from my husband.
I went on a long vacation with my grandparents the summer I was twelve. We went to Myrtle Beach and over to Fripp Island, where my Uncle Hamp was the golf pro at a country club, winding our way back through the mountains and having a wonderful time. My friend Chrissy, also aged twelve, went with us, although actually, Chrissy was not so much my friend, being as she was the daughter of my grandparents' widowed friend, Evelyn. At any rate, we got along smashingly until the point when I was sick of being bossed around by Chrissy and locked myself in my grandparents' bedroom in the enormous beach house we'd rented with some other friends of my grandparents (all of whom had teenaged children at that point), flatly refusing to come out. My grandma let the storm break and subside before she knocked on the door. I let her in and she sat on the bed with me, lowering her voice to whisper, "She's a lot like her mother" when I complained about Chrissy and her know-it-all ways.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - not the way I remember it Way Back
When, back when Chrissy, Megan and I could walk a mile down the
beach to eat breakfast at a little diner, past nothing but sand dunes
and ocean views. Photo credit: FamilyFriendlyVacations.com
That must have been in about 1975, I imagine. Myrtle Beach wasn't what it is today. Back then, huge old beach houses with lamps made out of driftwood and plaid bedspreads made out of what felt like upholstery fabric stood where hotels and tattoo parlors and gaudy t-shirts stands are today. In the beach house, my grandma and her three friends cooked up enormous pots of spaghetti and beef stew and made endless sandwiches to satisfy the appetites of five teenagers, three adolescent girls (the other girl was named Megan), four husbands and themselves. The teenagers, I remember, were incredibly kind to me, Chrissy and Megan and we played the transistor radio on the local Top 40 station and the Pingrey girls allowed the three of us to smear ourselves with their potent suntanning combination of baby oil and iodine. One of the boys had a guitar and we sang songs by the Eagles and America at night before my grandma came to shoo us to bed.
Remembering this is how I know that Meelyn and Aisling will have an amazing, memorable time, but I have to get started on their packing lists so that one of the memorable things about this vacation won't be: "Remember that time we went on vacation with Nanny and Poppy for a week and I forgot to bring any underwear?"
Vacation Packing List (keeping in mind that the house they're going to has a washer and dryer)
5 pairs of shorts
6 pairs of undies
1 nice outfit (no church on this trip because we'll go to Mass on Saturday evening, and they'll be back next Saturday, either in time to go again on Saturday evening, or in the morning on Sunday)
2 pairs of socks
1 nice pair of shoes to go with nice outfit, if flip-flops or Crocs won't suffice
books to read
MP3 player (Meelyn)
Special Bear (Meelyn)
Izzie the Real Dog (Aisling)
Madeline Molly (Aisling)
Elizabeth Felicity (Aisling)
Non-toiletry shared packing
neck pillows for car sleeping (gift from Nanny, whose eyes slam shut the moment the engine starts)
bag of pool toys (must retrieve from swim club locker)
little fan? (for night sleeping, or is ceiling fan in room? Must ask.)
That's all I can think of right now, but I may have to come back and revise it.
Note to Self: Aisling shall not be allowed to take more than the allotted amount of stuffed animals.
It gives me great pleasure to think of Kayte clutching her hair and screaming while she reads this. Heh.
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