It was on family vacation where I really learnt the truth of the aphorism “wherever you go, there you are”. And: “Wherever you go with my mum, there is the car packed with towels, four pool noodles, more bags of Tostitos than family members, goggles, chairs with insulated pockets behind them so you don’t have to pack a cooler and a cooler.”
No matter how old I get or how many times my therapist says the word “boundaries”, I still go. Here’s what I’m in for:
THE MORNING: I wake up from the loud whispering of “She’s still sleeping” directly by my bedroom door and stumble outside. I’m full from the night before (ravioli is meant to be eaten in single digits, not triple) and I am immediately served eggs. I didn’t ask for eggs. They’ve been ready for 40 minutes. It’s 7am and I’ve just been told I overslept. The forecast is for 80 degrees (Fahrenheit — 26.6C) and, as my mum says, “We’re not sitting inside on an 80-degree day.”
THE PREP: My mum is moving at a pace so frantic you can’t see her, but you feel the gust of wind as she passes. She’s gone up and down the stairs more in this one morning than I have in my entire life. The bags are packed. It looks like we are moving across the country. We are going to the lake.
THE LAKE: Why did we pack so much stuff? Because what if everyone in the town needs a float and a tuna sandwich? We lie down for exactly three seconds. Denise arrives with her family. We all get up and hug Denise. She asks if we’ve heard the news. My mum has heard the news. You’re not supposed to swim until an hour after you eat. My mum brings us Wheat Thins while we’re in the water. We see a loon across the lake. Mum pushes the limits of the phone’s zoom function and takes 400 pictures of it.
THE BOAT: Right as we get comfortable on the beach, it’s time to go on the boat before the water gets too choppy for water skiing. Nothing screams relaxation like hearing the magical words “THE ROPE IS CAUGHT IN THE MOTOR!” Once we all take a spin, we head back, lips bright blue, water lodged in our ears, no feeling left in our toes or hands. When we are attempting to park the boat, two of us yell things at each other that we’ll never be able to take back. We tie the boat up. My mum shows me 400 pictures of the loon.
THE WALK: It’s time to enjoy nature. We take in the beautiful trees and lake view before being reminded that there was a bear sighting here three years ago. My mum hands us all mace. We are tired, but we can rest in the winter (after we’ve snowshoed until we no longer have knees). For the next forty minutes we hear about Denise’s news. I don’t know any other person referenced in the story.
THE NIGHT: The sun sets and we are finally able to take our first trip back inside. My mum designates a couch for us to sit on if we are still wet. By the time I change out of my bathing suit, the table is lined with food. It’s night time and everyone is exhausted so it’s the perfect opportunity for a four-hour game of Balderdash. As we all fall asleep at the table, we finally give in to the day being over and get some shut eye. Mum sets the alarm for 6am. Luck is on our side. We’re gonna get another beautiful 80-degree day.
— New York Times News Service
Alyssa Limperis is a stand-up comedian who works in New York.