Making Myself at Home
When I go on vacation, I like to make everything exactly like home.
I have a degree of anxiety when we are about to go on vacation, and I channel this energy into packing objects that will make me feel like I’ve never left my house. First, I lay out all my clothes and try to do my best to match things up into outfits. This works, until I get to the end of the packing and I find there is a little bit of room in the corners of my suitcase, so I decide to add my favorite t-shirt. It’s not flattering, but I like to wear it in the morning at home, often to the dog park, where acceptable clothing has a somewhat lower standard.
Then I may want my cozy leggings. It’s very unlikely that I will exercise on vacation.
But at home, I often wear my Lulu’s in the hopes of actually exercising, and I feel I should have the same opportunity to ponder that while on vacation, as well. I’ll also acknowledge that the new cute pajamas I bought for vacation have not been washed from the store, not even once, since I didn’t until recently, even know there was a subset of people, that washes this stuff before they wear it. Anyway, my saggy comfy PJ’s, the ones my husband likes to call my “Where’s Waldo?” outfit, will find a place tightly rolled up inside the now, more stuffed, suitcase.
The more adventurous the trip, the more anxious I get, so the packing of comfort items increases significantly. My dream vacation consists of a new city, local food, cobblestone streets, and a nearby beach with chairs to rent. I will bike around town, provided the bike has no more than three gears and hopefully, a basket.
My family feels otherwise about vacations.
They like altitude, ziplines and waves.
By controlling the indoor environment, I am a bit more willing to go out of my comfort zone outdoors. I might put on those crampons and traverse an ancient glacier if I know back at the Airbnb my ginger tea from the Stop and Shop right in Port Chester, NY awaits my return. If the strange pillow has my own worn pillowcase on it, I’ll sleep better. If I confidently place my toothbrush into the little silver julep cup I always bring, I might just as confidently mount that big horse for a lively trot on the beach at sunrise.
The kitchen is where I really excel at feeling at home. I may not be able to stand up on a surfboard but I can cut up vegetables like a champ, as long as I bring my own cutting board and possibly my favorite knife, in my checked luggage of course.
When my daughter was studying abroad in Sweden we visited her over our Thanksgiving break. Our family loves to host the holiday here in Rye and my husband’s specialty is Chinese Sticky Rice Stuffing. I had an extraordinary conversation with a representative from Norwegian Airlines.
“Hi, hey, so I’m wondering, can I bring mushrooms on the plane?”
“I mean the dried kind”
“They are in a sealed package, but it’s raw meat, that’s ok?”
“Scallion” I say, holding my breath.
For a woman who has had her favorite lip gloss confiscated along with a tiny but necessary aerosol antiperspirant, this news was heaven.
I emailed the Airbnb apartment owner and asked if it was possible to buy a turkey in Sweden (of course!) and I reserved one, just the same way I do every year at Crisfield’s. In a stoke of pure genius, my daughter mentioned she thought a very nice Swedish family that had lived on our block, Elmwood Avenue here in Rye, had moved back to Sweden and now lived not far away at all!
Using the international magic of social media, I invited them to join us for Thanksgiving dinner in our rental. They accepted.
The highlight of that wonderful vacation was hosting family and friends for a traditional American dinner right in the heart of Stockholm, candles twinkling as we renewed our friendship and toasted to things being new and different, and yet, the same.
Paula Fung, our guest blogger, is a writer who lives in Westchester County with her husband and three daughters. She produces Writes & Bites in Rye, a lively reading salon in her hometown. She also produces a show on public access television, Rye Views, and co-hosts a podcast, Cook and the Comic. Her personal essays are on the things she knows: cooking, sailing, and family life. Her work has been published at the blog Sailing Anarchy and Read 650 (The Kids are Alright, Holidays, On Mothers and Jew-ish).