Just visiting

I got a call from Eric Jones tonight. One of my all-time favorite people. It’s always good to talk to him and know that there’s at least one person out there who’s more of a loser than I am.

That was a joke.

Anyways, we got on the subject of taking time off work and vacationing and visiting people. This has been on my mind a lot the past couple of weeks, as I try to plan an actual vacation where I actually intend to take an entire weekend off, not to mention several days surrounding it. Originally I was going to go home in March, but then work popped up and decided I shouldn’t go home any time soon, so now I’m looking into the April or May time frame. But my original plan was to spend a week at home, split between a few days in Marion and a few days gallavanting around the midwest, trying to see as many people as possible. This would have required a large amount of sacrifice on my part, my family’s part, and many friend’s parts. If I flew home, then my gallavanting would require the use of a vehicle, which means either renting one or borrowing one at the expense of my family. Then there’s impossible amount of planning that goes into the trip, where people have to juggle schedules and rearrange plans and do all sorts of crazy schedule juggling that was so easy in college and is now impossibly difficult in the real world. Then there’s trying to get back to Marion, back to the airport, and finally back home to Arlington in time to be back at work so I can break my back and make enough of a living to fix my broken back that I broke so I would have the money and insurance to fix it.

Then in the course of my phone call with Eric, and our scheming on how I could possibly join him and his brother in-law for a week of Appalachian Trail hiking, that it hit me. Really I had already figured this out, but my moment of full-realization epiphany happened during the phone call.

I have no desire to take part in the rat race of seeing as many people as possible in the limited amount of time I have to see them all. I tried this approach in August when I went home, and all I learned was that there isn’t enough time to see everyone. So by trying to see everyone, you end up spending quality time with no one, and at the end of the whirlwind week I had at home, I came back east feeling like I hadn’t really “seen” anyone. Including my family, which was the whole reason I went to begin with.

Now what I’m learning, as my friends and I begin to settle into our adult lives, is that you just have to make priorities and go with them. I’ll be honest, if you’re in the middle of a trip, and in order for us to see each other we have to completely inconvenience each other to spend 30 minutes at a McDonald’s eating lunch, I’d rather not do it. Hey, if you came out to Virginia to see your family, then see your family. As much as I enjoy seeing old friends, that half hour at McDonald’s really isn’t worth the trouble and pain it will cause. Conversely, if I decided I’m going to take three or four days off and go see my family, I want to see my family. Okay, let’s say they’re working during the day–fine, I’d love to come hang out while the ‘rents are working. But come evening, I want to go back home. I mean, it’s my family.

What I’m not saying is I want to completely do away with the random visiting. For instance, say your flight is connecting in DC (not likely to happen, but go with the illustration). You call me and find out Tuesdays are great for me, it’s like my Saturday, and I would love to drive out and see you at the Dulles McDonald’s while you’re waiting. That’s cool. I love those random meetings. But I’ve decided I’m done with the “work you into my schedule” mentality. That’s for business executives who are trying to avoid interviews from Forbes magazine. Coming to DC for a weekend? Awesome. Let’s try and plan ahead so we can hang out for a few hours. Driving through DC on a tight time table? Sorry it couldn’t work out. That would’ve been awesome to see you, but keep on headed where you’re going. Oh hey, we should get together some time when we get the chance.

I’m looking forward to building some tenure up at my job now, because it means more vacation time. I have two weeks to use between now and September. In my second year on the job, I get three weeks vacation. In my third year, I get four. Four weeks of vacation sounds awesome to me. That’s enough time to see the family just because, spend time with them at holidays, take a week to see a few friends, take a week to go backpacking, and take a weeklong vacation somewhere (second week of backpacking, anyone?). Money to do that all is another issue. But having the possibility to do it is a good start.

So if I’m planning on seeing you, I’m making a conscious choice and concerted effort. Whether that means reworking my schedule so I can catch you on your day off in New York, or postponing my trip home to a later time that works better for everyone, or planning 8 months ahead to make sure it works. So there it is, my “visiting family and friends treatise.” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Seriously.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

No one ever comments on my posts anymore.