Spring Break

New growth, renewal. A temporary suspension of reality, a parting of ways from everyday life. A cocktail mix of uppers and downers. A floating out on the waters with no needs other than air.

Better than a regular vacation, without schedules and itineraries, better than holidays with obligations.

Yes, a different animal altogether. One could say party animal, but spring break welcomes so many more, encompasses so much more.Spring Break

A year ago I was in Cabo at this time. It wasn’t until I checked in that I realized I was sharing the resort with several hundred 20-year-olds. They came pouring out of shuttle vans, grouping into the lobby with duffel bags, an expectant buzz, surprisingly low-key and innocent. Easter/Passover/ Pagan Equinox were still off two or three weeks, but in Cabo Spring Break lasts … well probably all year! And you don’t have to be a student or 20 to enjoy Spring Break.

Yes, there were older people wandering around too. Although we were outnumbered, I saw young families, couples, middle-aged and beyond. Some retirees have time shares and return every spring to experience the bustling nest, the sense of buoyancy.

No wonder. Something’s in the air. We’ve all become fledglings learning to fly and age doesn’t seem to matter. Yes, the young have more perfect bodies and occasionally send whooping calls through the halls, but overall there is a sense of ageless movement and civility.

On a side trip up the coast to Todos Santos, one woman, younger than I, staying at another resort, complained about all the wild kids. The irresponsibility, the rudeness, the danger. I wondered if her resort was different from mine; not all are family-oriented. Or was it her attitude? Was she never young and crazy? I did not encounter one young person who was out of control. Of course I know they are in some places, but the Spring Breaks I am remembering and celebrating are flying at the right altitudes.Spring Break Flying

Now we have the Spring Breakers descending on our beach town. There are complaints about the extra cars on the streets and crowds on the sidewalks, and in some vacation rentals, parties that go on all night. So far I’ve been lucky. Except for a bachelor neighbor who entertained in his hot tub under my bedroom window a few years ago, my block has been quiet and I can sleep.

I like to watch the Spring Breakers in their happy trances. Families by the rocky coast and bay, strolling into shops and restaurants, cleaning out their sand pails and flippers, hanging their beach towels along fences and railings. Teen-agers and 20-somethings jostling and flirting along the oceanfront boardwalk. No, I don’t sit on the beach or the bar stools with them. Let them enjoy while they can. Soon enough they’ll return to the real world, work or school, leaving behind the spirit of Spring Break for us to float on and breathe in with the salty air.

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Getaways within Getaways

Why is it so many are interested in where we went on vacation and how it was? They, too, want to escape. Will this escape be better than their last one, assuming they had a last one? What are the pros and cons?

Wherever we stay, we often want new experiences – different people, food, streets, trees and bodies of water. But we also need a feeling of safety, a retreat within our retreat where we can hang out while we absorb our new location.Balcony

A protected balcony or courtyard, a quiet, shady spot for relaxing and enjoying a meal, a morning muffin with coffee, a lunch of local cheeses and fruit, a casual dinner of freshly caught fish and harvested vegetables.

Before I went on my first long trip to Europe with my sons, my boss had some words of advice. He was excited for me and happy to recount his trip with his wife, but he also added: “Remember, the word travel originates from the old French word travail.”

Travel is work. It is pleasant and liberating, but it also requires vigilance, thinking about everything we do, from where to walk and eat to how to pay for goods and services in foreign currency.  Even listening to a tour guide or walking around a museum requires more attention and thinking than our daily drives to work or the grocery store on auto pilot.

RetreatAnd, as with any challenge met, any task successfully completed, a trip to a new location, new travels, new travails, can leave us feeling upbeat. We’ve accomplished something and feel as good as after exercising, but with better scenery.

If we’re lucky or wise, we can also bring some scenes and retreats home to become part of our regular lives, indoors and out.