Vacation Is Not Really Vacation, Pt. 1

Jose Vilson Featured, Jose

During my so-called vacation, and I call it so-called because my brain doesn’t have an off-switch when it comes to the work, I read, slept, and jumped into large bodies of water. The sun shone brightly above the Atlantic City Boardwalk, with parades, air shows, and confections for all visitors. Where some folks look forward to their yearly vacation and can turn off the switch when necessary, I had to forcibly pull the wire from the outlet for both myself and my family.

The way I explained it to ourselves was, “The world will just have to go on without us for a minute.” In reality, the world continued to rotate without us, and the work would sit there, waiting for us to get back. It ain’t that big a deal.

But even as the sand rolled into our pockets and backpacks, we still did the things educators do. We analyze current events. We read research-heavy books. We drew up odds, winning as many tickets for our son’s take-home prizes. We tracked our steps on our Fitbits and determined how many sites we’d see before we would get to 10,000 steps. While flags were waved in our faces, we picked apart the difference between who was granted automatic patriotism and who wasn’t.

We (too often and totally my fault) tested how long our son could be out in the sun before he either changed color without getting sunburnt. And the educator in me couldn’t help framing these experiences in disciplines and subject areas, either. It’s a curse, I know.

Perhaps the most special moment came in the pool when I wanted to see if Ale’s swimming lessons paid off from the summer. For the better part of an hour, I played games with him, popping my head up and out the water while he tried to catch me. He’d do a sitting dive from the edge of the pool. Onlookers marveled at the joy in his face as compared to the rough-housing happening with some of the boys playing beside us.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed a young black girl swimming in the pool with her silver fox of a grandfather standing with crossed arms outside of the water. She’s jumping up and down in the water, right next to us while Ale’s splashing me with his kicks. She’s trying to avoid the teen boys tossing a floating ball at each other, nervous about wetting her wooly hair as her grandfather looks on.

I wanted to tell her to hold her breath without clinching her nose so she can stay underwater longer. I wanted to tell her to use the railing to help her practice kicking her legs. I wanted to tell her grandfather who looked like his best days were ahead of him that he could hold his girl up and help her get floating. I wanted to tell her that her hair would be fine because Simone Manuel already put a wedge on that door should she choose to walk through anywhere she goes.

I told her and Ale, “This water is all yours. No need to be scared of it.” Some parts of me never go on vacation.

When we got back to our apartment, we immediately wanted to go back. Even after five days to ourselves, I saw the work that I had left incomplete and took a deep sigh. I reinstalled all of my social media apps, responded to notifications, updated websites, thanked folks for holding down my various forts, and proceeded to shut it off, almost flinging my phone out the window in the process.

I’m still not ready to go back. There’s too much work to do before the work.