Family Circus – Published in Way Words Vol. 1, Issue 7: Vacations – August 15, 2022
When my husband arrived home flashing a brochure and reservations for all six of us to a Club Med in Eleuthera, it was quite a surprise coming from the man I had recently dubbed the family curmudgeon, but I embraced the idea. A vacation in the Caribbean resort with a family circus training camp sounded like fun; it’d be just what our family needed – especially Rob.
My light-hearted husband had changed overnight into an anxious wreck with his introduction to nicotine replacement gum. He chewed that rubbery wad with a vengeance all day long and even woke up for a chew in the middle of the night. For the first time in his life he was being treated for hypertension, and I feared his steadfast commitment would soon be reflected on a granite tombstone proclaiming, Here lies a non-smoker.
After many conversations with myself, I concluded he needed to be commended for his perseverance, and I needed to be more patient. So, I wore mouth guards to protect my grinding teeth and resisted the impulse to leave cigarettes strategically placed for a quick restoration of family peace.
On the day we left for our vacation, I set the children’s bags and mine in descending size beside the front door. Rob was still upstairs, probably throwing extra packs of the smoking antidote into his bag when our ride honked twice from outside. A grumble from above signaled me to take the kids and leave the bags. Pleased to accept my assignment, I led the troops out to the van where we piled in and waited until Rob took his place in the front seat next to the driver.
“Nobody talk to me!” he said, slamming the door.
Hmm, no problem there, I thought.
The first leg of the journey to Florida was relatively smooth. I sat on the plane with a child on either side of me, the baby on my lap (allowable in the days of paper tickets) and the eldest across the aisle next to a friendly woman, delighted to have company. Rob offered me a silent nod as he continued down the aisle to his seat several rows behind us.
Maybe this is best, I thought, wishing I had worn my mouth guards.
The change of planes in Florida was seamless, and after landing in Eleuthera, we were greeted by a cheerful Club Med agent who drove us to the resort. The palm fronds waving in the tropical summer breeze had a calming effect on all of us. Even Rob was a bit more relaxed, and when we arrived at the Club village, he might even have smiled when suggesting I take the kids to the beach while he took care of collecting the luggage. I kissed his cheek, pleased to hear his gentler voice.
The children and I were delighted to roll up our jeans, remove our shoes and sink our feet into the flour-like sand, but it wasn’t long before the teasing surf lapping at the shoreline enticed us into the crystal clear, turquoise sea. By the time Rob arrived, we were soaked up to our necks in what we soon learned were the only clothes we had.
Only two of our bags had arrived, the baby’s diaper bag and Rob’s suitcase, but the club concierge was certain the rest would be delivered to us early the next morning. If we could just make do for that night, the problem would be resolved by the next day
I drew upon my sartorial skills and taught the children the art of towel-wrap attire. That night we entered the dining room dressed in our new outfits, and while others stared, I assured the children they were admiring our creativity.
When the next day came and our bags still hadn’t arrived, we received more apologies and minimal vouchers to the Club store to use until our bags arrived. And each day thereafter, the routine repeated itself. No bags, more apologies, and more vouchers. Fortunately, we didn’t need much beyond bathing suits and sunblock. More importantly, the vacation was going well.
Rob traded some gum chewing for cocktails by the pool, and the activity- filled days of circus training, swimming, water skiing, and fishing wore us all out by evening; if Rob woke for a late-night chew, I was sleeping too deeply to hear him. The vacation was magical for all of us. We watched our children grow in courage, independence and confidence while building their circus skills, and my marriage partner was beginning to feel like a good choice once again.
Everyone was a little sad to leave when the week ended, but I reminded them it’s always best to leave while still having fun. We packed our purchases in the now roomier diaper bag and one suitcase before retracing our steps toward home. In each airport along the way we checked the lost and found before filling out multiple copies of missing luggage forms and depositing them with the appropriate airport personnel. We got more apologies, but still no luggage.
Exiting the final airport into the winter chill couldn’t make our smiles and suntans disappear. The worst part of Rob’s withdrawal had finally passed, and this time he rode in the back of the taxi with us. Over the children’s voices and laughter, I could hear my mother’s voice reminding me, “It’s good to go away, but it’s nice to come home.” And it was, especially when we opened the front door to all our luggage waiting just where we had left it.
Click here to view published content.