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The Vacation Meta-Dilemma

November 10th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Sometime today I should be getting a call or e-mail from Jean, letting me know if her planned vacation dates have been approved by her boss. I’m really very excited—for all the traveling I do, it’s rarely with her and Sasha, and even more rarely can the trips qualify as actual vacation.

That is, most of the time I’m traveling alone, for my work, which is incredibly fun but often lonely. So when Jean and I have the freedom to get away together, it’s fantastic. It’s almost unimaginable that we’d do what Neal Pollack and his wife, Regina, do—they vacation separately:

I understand why some couples don’t like the idea of traveling apart. There’s the thought that you’ll be missing out on all the fun, or that an attractive stranger might walk into the bar (which happens in Jennifer Aniston movies, but not so much in real life). Realistically, though, how are two middle-aged people with limited income and children to support supposed to have long-term romantic getaways? They’re not. Allowing your partner to travel alone means acceptance of your modest circumstances. To follow dreams, sometimes you have to give up illusions.

It does make sense, and the trips that Pollack describes in this Salon.com article are entertaining: Regina has a wonderful time visiting British (?) crop circles, while Pollack tears his left hamstring just before a miserable trip to a yoga retreat.

In the end, he reminisces about the trip they actually took together for their 10th wedding anniversary, and finishes the piece with the tooth-achingly saccharine kicker: “We had a really fun and memorable time. Best of all, we had it together.”

Urk. What a sentiment.

Anyway, this brings up a tangential issue that Jean and I are currently struggling with: how to balance Sasha and our social life. For a lot of things, there’s no problem: I’ve always gone out—to drinks, to dinners, to events—a lot more than Jean, and while I always love to have her along, as often as not she’s happy to stay home. And since we can’t just leave Sasha sleeping in her crib within no one in the apartment, she now has a perfectly valid justification for not going out.

But often, we do want to go out together, most often to dinners at friends’ houses. Usually, we rely on our neighbors to baby-sit. In our small building, three of the four units have kids around the same age, and so we trade kid-watching nights all the time.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out, which provokes these questions: Do we just stay in? Do we struggle to find a paid baby-sitter? Do we invite everyone to our place? Or do we bring Sasha along, hoping that, when her inflexible bedtime of 8 p.m. arrives, she’ll happily crash in whatever spare bedroom is available?

Lately, we’ve been staying in or inviting everyone else over—it’s easier that way. But are those the right decisions? Are we letting the fact of our having a child overly dictate the span of our social lives? Would it cause irreparable harm to Sasha to have an erratic night’s sleep now and then?

Finally—and this is the most important question of all—is anyone free to babysit Friday night? We’d like to go out.

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