I realize that life can't be arithmetic'ized. Still, every time we come home from a vacation I mentally calculate the value of a numberless equation:
All the rushing around to get ready to leave + dealing with all that has to be done when we get back - the relaxation of the vacation = how much reduction in stress?
I'm pretty sure the value to the right of the equals sign is positive. Meaning, the psychological benefit of a vacation is worth all the work involved in the pre- and post- days. But leaving Maui and returning to Oregon last Wednesday made me wonder, a bit at least, if that's true.
My gustatory brightness had started to fade quite a bit earlier in the flight. Hawaiian Airlines, to its credit, still serves free meals in coach. So I was pleased to see the meal cart heading my way a few hours into a flight that up to that time had featured a tiny bag of pretzels for sustenance.
"Turkey sandwich or pasta?" we were asked.
"Oh, pasta," I said with a smile. Quickly adding, with an intuition born from long meatless experience, "We're vegetarians."
"It's chicken pasta. Sorry."
Hey, Mr. Flight Attendant, you couldn't have been as sorry as I was. A fact you would have become well aware of if you'd hung around to hear the conversation between the two lunch-less vegetarians in 13 A and B.
"Good god, can't Hawaiian offer a vegetarian option on a five hour flight? The other passengers wouldn't suffer from not having meat for one meal. In fact, it'd be good for them. Whereas we pure-stomached souls would incur grievously hurtful dietary karma from the turkey or chicken Hawaiian was offering."
All the energy I used in griping made me even hungrier. Luckily, we'd made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before we left our Napili Kai room. Looking around the plane, we were the only ones I could see eating our own food.
Such is the cross we vegetarians have to bear. We live longer than carnivores (especially red meat eaters) but spend a good part of life staring glumly at menus that pretend we don't exist.
After getting home at 1:30 in the morning, and waking up earlier than I wanted due to my brain believing it was time to rise and curse the screeching birds that had greeted me the past ten sunrises, one of my first daytime sights was way more plant material than even a vegetarian wants to see.
The good news was that it must have been cool and rainy in Oregon most of the time we were gone (the rain gauge showed 4 inches of wet stuff had fallen). The bad news was that grass loves that sort of climate.
I'd mowed extra short before we left. Today I had to mow extra long, not wanting to traumatize the grass that had just spent two weeks growing the good life.
I gave the lawn a sign that the Big Bad Mower Man was back in charge by cutting it to about half of the extravagant height it reached while we were gone. Sunday I'll chop it down to regular size and do the trails that I didn't have time to mow today.
Two mowings in three days. A huge stack of saved-up mail, including a bunch of bills. Suitcases to unpack, wrinkled and dirty clothes to deal with, a pet rescued from "dog jail" to fawn over (that's her term: the Shaggy Dog Kennel calls it a Pampered Dog program, which, given the boarding bill, is a lot closer to the truth).
We also have a bunch of TV programs recorded on our DVR to get through as quickly as possible. Yes, coming back from a vacation can be hell.
Already, I couldn't help but see a news blurb about who got kicked off Dancing With the Stars on one of the episodes we missed. If we don't watch the Survivor shows soon, we'll learn what happened on those also.
[Note to potential commenters on this post: if you reveal what happened on Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, Lost, or 24 the past two weeks, you will incur horribly bad karma that will ruin the rest of your life. It'll be even worse than eating meat. Trust me -- though I admit that philosophically and theologically there's no reason to. But still, trust me.]