Sep 4, 2007

Reality vs. Vacation

9/04/2007 — cori

Ahhh...just the word vacation conjures up such feelings as restful, joyous, carefree, all the time in the world to do whatever you want (within reason and budget) without worrying too much about all the responsibility that is an ever constant companion back in "the real world".

Our last little foray into that blissful state of mind was only 2 short weeks ago. Amazingly enough, our vacation was 'normal'. No outrageous, crazy happenings that seem to befall our family. We looked and acted like every other 'normal' family. I should have known then that it wouldn't last forever. I knew that once we got home, reality would hit us hard. That seems to be our 'tradition', if you will. We prefer to have unimaginable, unexpected and expensive things happen shortly upon our arrival back from paradise. We wouldn't want to fool ourselves into thinking that the troublesome-free life we just experienced for a few too precious days could really be attainable for people such as ourselves. Take last week for example:

I picked up the dog from the kennel and brought her home after taking out a small loan to pay for her private suite during our 2 weeks away. The only way I can justify spending that kind of money on her is because I know they all love her there and take such good care of her. But that's beside the point. Upon entering our house and being greeted with unequivocal adoration from her siblings (the human ones), she realizes that her bladder is just not strong enough to contain all her excitement. Clean up number one occurs less than 4 minutes upon reestablishing familial connections. I guess that was my error, I probably should have had everyone come outside to formally greet her. What do I know about dog training?

She then takes her place in our room, where Chuck works from home. They are working buddies. She seems to like the quiet clickitty clack of the keyboard (that's an oxymoron) and I like that his eyes are keeping watch on her. I guess Chuck likes having her there too...I never really asked...this set up works too good to worry about that now. So anyways, I run an errand with the boys while Chloe stays home and takes a nap while Chuck is working in our room. He runs upstairs to check on her. He is gone maybe 2 minutes. In that amount of time Elizabeth has seemingly exploded. She decided to let Chuck know what she feels about him leaving her. She proceeded to poopie and then frolic about in it all over our room. We have not even been home for 24 hours yet!! I stayed gone long enough to let Chuck pick up that indescribable mess in peace. I was just trying to be thoughtful.

Once I got home, and assured our puppy that she was still loved (at least by me anyways), I let her back into our room. Bad idea. As a bonus, she proceeded to throw-up from some unknown ailment. The pile was massive. Again, this was in our room. Yuck! We had to sleep with nose-plugs that night.

And lastly, on this, our first day back from vacation, we started noticing a burning smell. What on earth could be burning in our house, I ask myself. Come to find out, this was the day our dishwasher decided it was done with us. We eventually find out that it will cost more to fix it than to replace it. So, we venture out to our local appliance store to buy our second appliance this month. Didn't see that one coming.

These types of events keep us grounded in reality. This was actually a walk in the park compared to our return home greeting 5 years ago. You see, we were still in that time of life when vacations were a rarity for us. All extra money goes to food and things we need in order to live. Thus, when Chuck's work awarded him an all expense paid Mediterranean Cruise, we were speechless. We knew this would be a once in a lifetime experience. We treasured every surreal moment we had. It is my conclusion that the better the vacation, the worse the descent back into reality. Here's what awaited us:

We pick up our children and drive back home. The instant we walk through the front door, my nose tells me "something is seriously wrong here." Either something was dead or rotting, but it wasn't pretty. We quickly discovered it was the 2 bags of chicken we left sitting in the back seat of the car parked in the closed garage. I had bought like 12 packages of chicken the day we left because they were on an unbelievable sale - and I am not one to pass up on such a bargain. You can imagine the blame game we instantly started playing, "I asked if you brought everything in from the car?"..."Well, you should have checked.." yada, yada, yada. Forget all the "I love you's" and strolls hand in hand we had while walking through Portofino, Italy just a day and a half ago. Now, it was about being right! My house smells like 12 dead chickens and I'm about to throw up!!

But as we were arguing, we realize not only are we starting to wreak, but we're also sweating. It seemed to be getting hotter and hotter in the house. We then join forces, even for a short bit, and run over to check the ancient thermostat. Our HVAC unit was about 20 some odd years old at that point and we knew it would be biting the dust soon...but did it have to be today?! The temperature continued to rise in the house - not good in Texas during the end of April.

We decided to go back over to my parents' house on the other side of town. I was to drive the kids over in our other car, which still stunk because everything we owned stunk at this point, but not as bad as Chuck's car, a.k.a The Chicken Car. Chuck was going to attempt to clean out the car and then drive over to my parents' house to meet us and try to ride out the current heat wave at our house.

It seemed to be taking Chuck a very long time to clean out the car. Come to find out, the Chicken Car died on him on the way over. He's not 5 minutes away and he's stuck. This was before we owned cell phones. So, he's now walking to the nearest convenience store to find a phone to call me to tell me the news. I don't even know if he had a quarter on him to make the call. We were both ready to cry at this point. The world can be so cruel. It was piling everything on us at once. It's hard enough to deal with the fact that we would forever be reminded of our collective stupidity by leaving chicken in a car for a week. But add to that that it just died on Chuck and he's having to beg for a phone - what have we become?!

Somehow, someway, we were able to pick up Chuck, get the car towed, buy a part and get it fixed - thanks to my Dad's knowledge of the inner workings of an automobile. In a haze, we somehow made it home again that night, emptied an entire can on Lysol in our house and fell into a very hot, sticky, smelly sleep as we tried to rid this horrid nightmare from our memories.

Ah yes, the best part is...Chuck parked the Chicken Car outside that night with the windows down in order to try to 'air it out'. Little did we know it would rain. The next morning we now had a very wet, moldy smelling Chicken Car. Ah...the good old days...where would we be without memories such as these to look back and laugh at?!

Author's note: None of this is embellished in any way. All of this really did happen, unfortunately. The good news is, we lived to tell about it!

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