What I Did For Summer Vacation, Part I

Summer Fun, Jennifer Granquist

Even though I’ve been self-employed for most of my adult life and can, technically, take off any day that I’d like, I still look forward to summer vacation and long weekends. (Although isn’t it a sign of our sickness in this country that we consider three days “long”?) Labor Day marks the gateway to fall, my favorite season. I LOVE fall in New Mexico. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Green chile roasting por todos lados.
  • Marching band. Yes, I marched with the Deming Wildcat Band, and I liked it. I liked it so much I spent one season as a drum major. Someday I’ll have to dedicate a post to the Wildcat trumpet line, Tournament of Bands, my first Duck Race parade, the hours I spent practicing my salute. No pictures, though; some things needed to be destroyed in the fire. (Well, maybe just one. I’m standing with the trumpets.)

Mighty Wildcat Marching Band, 1986

  • The fair. I still remember the photo booth that showed up at the Southwestern New Mexico Fair in Deming my junior year. It wasn’t the instant kind once popular in shopping malls and now relegated to places like Chuck E. Cheese. There was an actual photographer who took two Polaroid shots for seven dollars and framed it in one’s choice of heather green or blue matting. KB and I happened upon the booth our junior year and then planned our outfits and hairdos for the photo we would take our senior year. By then, KB was lining her eyes in liquid black, and I was sporting an unfortunate haircut, common in late eighties, small-town New Mexico. Years later, a new friend saw the pictures on my wall and said, “This, I am happy to report, looks nothing like you.” (These, too, were destroyed in the fire.)
  • Balloon Fiesta. I have attended every year I have lived in Albuquerque, sometimes with friends, sometimes with family, a few times alone. I can’t describe the joy that comes over me as I wake before dawn, bundle up, and drive or take the train or shuttle to Balloon Fiesta Park, stand in line for a breakfast burrito and hot chocolate, watch the sun rise, and then feel my spirits lift as each balloon ascends from the ground into a perfect New Mexico sky. I look forward to this high all year. This year, it will be even better because now the kids love it too, and Erasmo, wonderful writer and querido amigo, will be visiting from New York.

Bumble Bees, Henry Rael

Fall also means it’s time to get serious. More than January, early September is my time to reflect on the last several months, clear clutter and implement resolutions. Perhaps it’s because my mother taught elementary school for thirty years, and the academic calendar is ingrained in me. Maybe it’s because the slight drop in temperature precedes the death of our garden, reminding me that time is finite, and I should use it wisely. Next week, I will write about my clutter removal and resolutions. This week I am feeling reflective, and so I am honoring that age-old school tradition of writing about my summer vacation.

After a few weeks of kids in camp—K. learning about physics at Explora and P. juggling and walking a tightrope at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Circo Latino—Henry and I packed up the suitcases and took the chicos to southern California for our first big family vacation. (I had never before packed for an entire family, and after doing so, am amazed that my mother kept my brothers and me in clean underwear and socks on the many camping and other car trips we took as children.)

House of Joy, Henry Rael

Generous friends from the South Valley loaned us their gorgeous and comfortable home in Del Mar. Staying there felt like a vacation in and of itself, and Henry and I could have easily hung out on the patio the entire time, taking in the ocean view and drinking Coronas. Alas, we had already told the children about the nearby entertainment offerings, so we spent a day at the beach with my brother Tim and his family, visited the San Diego Zoo with Henry’s sister Linda, and enjoyed one day each at Legoland and Sea World. We operated like a team, picking the clothes we wanted to pack, taking off our shoes at airport security, navigating the freeways of Califas (Thank you, Henry, for driving!), determining which rides were worth the wait in line and which we could do without, mapping out our amusement park days.

Sea Stars, Henry Rael

Vacation was good for us. Important. Something about leaving behind the rhythms and routine of home enabled me to be present to Henry and the kids in ways I find difficult to do here because I am distracted by things like work and laundry, the condition of the playroom, the clogged bathroom sink. I knew I had a family before we went to California, but spinning in circles with P. on a dizzying ride at Legoland and playing with K. in the ocean, watching P. hold a macaw at a bird refuge, and hearing K. thank God for “such a wonderful vacation” each evening at grace, reminded me that I am now part of something much greater than myself.

Read Part II this Thursday, September 9.

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Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A spirituality of family, of interdependence, necessary human unions, of ordinary life seen with the eye of God, the joy of heaven, the insight of the prophets, the inner peace that comes only with wholeness, and the wisdom found only through suffering. Star studded truth has touched my heart this night so early in the fall. Thank you Michelle for such a gift.

    • Gracias, Veneta. And thank you for the gift of your beautiful insight and words.

  2. […] What I Did for Summer Vacation, Part II Continued from Tuesday, September 7 post. […]


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