I remember that moon was huge from the back seat of my parents’ car as we drove to Florida that summer when I was a kid. It just hung there in the sky like this giant saucer that looked like it could fall at any second. Laying in that backseat on the makeshift wooden bed that my father had built for my brother and I to sleep on, the moon looked close enough to reach as we drove through the night on that much anticipated vacation to Disneyworld.
It’s crazy that from that vacation, my memory chooses to remember how a giant moon lit our way from Missouri to Atlanta, then to Orlando and then later to Panama City Beach.
My memories of childhood seems so sparse and random now, not because I had a bad childhood or even a unmemorable one. But just because things become cloudy after a while and then other trips, events and things start to meld into one another.
That vacation my brother and I laid on this makeshift bed, rolling over one another – both accidentally and on purpose at times just to try to hurt one another. Of course, this was years before the mandatory seatbelt laws and the child safety seat standards, which of course allowed for the two of us to roll around in the backseat and pretty much sleeping on the rim of the back window of the car. Even more wonderful that this trip was years before the onset of my motion sickness. Joy!
But as amazing as it was that we survived that weird makeshift backseat, you would think I would remember Disneyworld, but no, I just remember that incredibly giant moon that hung in the sky along the highway.
And as I’ve grown older, other random memories pop up in my head from other vacations I’ve taken.
When I was a sophomore in college, my parents took my brother and I to Hawaii, as what would be our last family vacation. What I remember most was the pride in my father’s voice when he drove us around Oahu, trying to show us the different places he grew up, where he used to cause trouble or would hang out with his friends. We drove to Hale’iwa on the north side of the island and walked back into the woods just off from the park and the beach. He took us to the place where a house once stood where my father was born and raised for much of his early childhood, all that remained were the stone steps leading out to the sand. What I remember from that day was watching my father walk around in the sand and the tall grass where the house once sat, walking my brother and I through the layout of the house. It was both heartbreaking and endearing. My father had not been back to Hawaii in almost 30 years and there was no one left on the island that he knew and many of the places that he knew as a child were gone. So for all of us, it was a new experience we were all sharing together.
Years later when Tim and I had been together for about three years, we decided to take his kids to Mexico for a week. It was the first time Taylor had been on a plane. And Timothy kept giving me grief about why we had to go to Mexico for a vacation when we could go three-four hours by car (instead of a plane) to Peoria for a perfectly good vacation too. But all four of us boarded a plane for Cancun and when we arrived it was raining so much there was flooding everywhere. It had apparently rained for 7-10 days straight prior to our arrival and the day after we arrived the rain stopped around noon and never started again the entire time we were there. From that trip, I remember being a family. We would always end up at the seaside bar, where the kids would drink soda, and Tim and I would have a couple very strong drinks. And we would talk or play games or whatever came to mind for hours without any interruptions until Taylor or I could barely keep our eyes open. Our family had been in the making for a little while before this trip, but afterwards we were all a little closer for one reason or another.
So now as I sit on our balcony in Gulf Shores and my boys get ready for another day of activity, I can only hope that certain memories of the trip stick in their brains for years to come. Whether it is the “three-mile” walk we took on our gorgeous first day here, walking to the end of Gulf Shores Pier, the Naval Aviation Museum, playing on the beach, attacking the waves for the first time, even putting Legos together with dad or one of the other things we did. I just hope they too come away with a memory or memories that stick with them for the rest of their lives about their 2015 spring break vacation with mommy and daddy.
Since the boys were born, we have also continued to travel to Bull Shoals Lake with Tim’s family each year for the nearly nine years. And memorable does not fully explain how those weeks usually play out between all the Hasamear family antics and the imaginations of both these boys. From the cliff diving to hanging out on the dock to the family potlucks, those memories seem to never fade from my memory.
Vacations are meant to help us take a step back from our hectic schedules, breathe in and breathe out and then repeat until we no longer wonder if everything was finished before we left. Vacations may quite possibly be life’s way to help us cope with the stress and life’s continual pull on us between work and family. Vacations help the things that really matter bubble back to the surface where they really belong.
And I would be remissed if I didn’t admit that I remember so many other things about the vacations I mentioned earlier or all the other vacations I’ve taken in my life but these little memories are the ones that still stick out in my mind as clear as if they happened only yesterday.
Vacations give us the opportunities to make memories that we can hold onto for the rest of our lives. These memories will continue to fill the pages that make our life story — a story that no one else should be able to tell, live, cherish or enjoy but you. So fill your pages wisely and leave a story worth telling.