Dead in 70 years anyway.
So reads the Instagram tagline of someone I know well, like a self-referential epitaph. This person is a teenager every bit as tormented, apparently, as I was at his age. The difference is that today the world can know your torment, which is not confined between the cardboard covers of a journal. The torment is no less acute for its publicity.
I went on vacation with this person.
Somewhere over Nebraska
The idea of vacation is in many ways as absurd to me as the idea of retirement. I am blessed with the good fortune to live in a part of the world that many consider to be a premier vacation destination. Blessed, too, with satisfying work I cannot see wanting to stop because I pass some arbitrary chronological age. So, just as I feel there will be no need to retire, there is no need for me to vacation. What folly, then, drove me onto an airplane with my family?
We planned the trip because I felt, after several years stuck at home in my routines like a hamster exercising on the same sorry wheel day after day, an almost insuperable need for something to change. What better way to satisfy this need than to yank everyone out of their comfortable routines for two weeks? Plus, as the keeper of the family’s emotional life, it falls to me to curate the future, to make a memory we can all carry with us. (I didn’t say it had to be a pleasant memory.)