July 19, 2002
Just Because

miles to go: 1,050.52

The Business Development Manager wants to know if I'll be doing anything "fun" next week. 

"Is this a 'Mental Health' Vacation," she asks, "or a 'Just-Because' Vacation?"

I look at her and smile sweetly. I've spent most of the morning trying to make the front desk area as user-friendly as possible, in preparation for the five days I'll be out of the office next week. Right now I'm affixing little Post-It Note warnings to office furniture (Open drawer slowly! Broken runners!) and to desktop plants (Please don't kill me while Secra is gone, OK?). Next I plan to delete all the cookies off my computer, erase my collection of naughty voicemail messages and hide my stash of Pentel RSVP Pens.

"I think it's a little bit of both," I tell her honestly.

The fact is that I was plunk in the middle of The Incredibly Unbelievably Very Very Bad Time when I first put in for this vacation, more than a month ago. At the time, I was certain that if I didn't find a way to drop off the planet for a few days and pull myself together, I was fast on my way to becoming a tabloid headline. (Deborah Norville: "How did she snap? Why did she snap? And why did she take The Main Marketing Guy with her?? Next, on Inside Edition!" ) Things have obviously improved since then -- the dams have burst, the meds are working, people who annoy the living shidt out of me are allowed to live again, blah blah blah -- but I'm going ahead with the vacation anyway.

"Well," the Business Development Manager says, "I hope you and your husband are at least getting out of town for a while?"

I tell her that David and I are driving up to the Sonoma Valley right after work, as a matter of fact: the first leg of what we're calling the *First-Wedding-Anniversary Triathalon O'Fun.* We'll spend tonight in Santa Rosa -- in an air conditioned hotel room with cable TV and teeny-tiny bottles of watered-down shampoo -- and then we'll ride tomorrow morning in the Healdsburg Harvest Ride, my first organized bike ride. Sunday is the high school reunion. (David's reunion, not mine. You couldn't pay me enough to go to one of my high school reunions. And I'm only going to David's reunion because some famous guy will be there, and I want to try and sell him on *FootNotes: The Movie.*) Sunday night, after the reunion, is when we'll actually be able to celebrate the wedding anniversary properly, with a romantic dinner at the fancy-pants restaurant where David proposed, followed by a phone-off-the-hook evening at home.

"That all sounds lovely," sighs the BDM. "But what about the rest of the week?"

I tell her that the rest of the week is 'open-ended.' "I'm still working out a few details," I lie, sounding deliberately vague. "You know ... coordinating schedules, checking the weather, realigning planets, that sort of stuff." What I don't tell her, of course, is this: that as far as I'm concerned, my *real* vacation begins on Monday morning. Once the Triathalon O'Fun is over -- once I'm all done killing myself riding the hills of Healdsburg, making polite chitchat with David's former high school classmates, stuffing myself full of fifty-dollar steak -- THAT'S when the actual vacation kicks in for me.

And I know exactly how I'm going to be spending it.

I'm going to eat scrambled egg sandwiches and watch all three hours of "The Matt Lauer Show," every single morning ... and then I'm going to eat Rice Chex in bed and watch David Letterman, every single night. I'm going to paint my toenails an absurd color: *FootNotes Green,* maybe. I'm going to look at the photo albums from our wedding last year, and listen to the mix tapes we played during the reception afterwards, and pretend that this raisin bagel is a slice of our wedding cake. I'm going to go on a couple of solitary bike rides, without my *coach* there shouting at me to "Downshift! Downshift!"  I'm going to tear the apartment apart, looking for my stoopid &$^#! missing black slacks ... and if I can't find them, I'm going to take the bus to the mall and buy myself a new pair. I'm going to sit at a bus stop, in the sunshine, and eat dried plums while I wait for the #51. I'm going to read old Baby Boomer Chat Room logs, mostly checking to see if Ю僱êrvØ¡ was hitting on any of the early Boomer women. (I don't care if he was. I just want to see what he was up to while *I* was busy hitting on the Boomer men.)  I'm going to color my hair. I'm going to fix my broken sunglasses. I'm going to "nap on demand." I'm going to rearrange the books on the headboard: all of his rock biographies and stock market manuals are moving to the south side of the bed, all of my Anne Lamotts and self-help manuals are moving to the north. I'm going to drink too much coffee and watch too much junky daytime TV. I'm going to go one whole day without saying a word to anybody .. at least, until David gets home from work that night. Basically, I'm going to be as unproductive, as undisciplined, as unsociable and as unapologetic as possible for five blissful days. And I'm going to enjoy the hell out of myself in the process.

Just because.

Have a great weekend, everybody! I'll be back soon.






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