Friday, May 11, 2007

Vacation Tenses: Future, Present, Past

There are three ways to enjoy vacation. First there is the planning and anticipation. Then there is the vacation. Lastly there is the recollection and memory.
Last Sunday my daughter and her friend Niriel and I were sitting on the beach in Eilat, overlooking Jordan's gulf of Aqaba. (For all the world it looked like a Disney simulation but it was the real thing.) We had planned this for many weeks. And there we were. "When my mom came for a visit in March", Niriel related, "when we got here, she said 'Here we are on the map!' " That is a good summation of the relationship of the planning to the experiencing. It also is "Here we are on the calendar". Sometimes it's hard to bridge the gap of the plan and the doing.
I have been fortunate to be spending the last few days in Athens, my first trip to Greece. I read in a column about happiness a few months ago (when I return, I will track down the reference, unless someone can help me out here) that a big part of what makes people feel happy is the remembering part of a vacation, so - the columnist advised - bring home mementos. I am not one who likes to hang a lot of things but I have really enjoyed bringing home functional things from vacations. The memories pop up when I use them. So I set out in quest of the perfect mug evoking the Greek experience.
I am very picky, so I looked at about 1000 mugs until # 1001 delighted me. It cost 3.5 Euros, about $4.25, so while it wasn't a big purchase, it was just what my fantasy mug looked like. The only catch was it was a Greek Island scene, and I hadn't actually been to a Greek Isle. Today I earned the mug - taking a quick trip on the sleek Athens metro to the port, then we hopped onto a ferry, and had three perfect hours in the closest island, Aegina. (Pictured above.) Then back to Athens on the hydrafoil, the Flying Neptune.
It was a perfect day trip, and will be recalled often, via the mug!