This has been the hardest vacation in my life to come back from. I can’t really say why, but this whole week I’ve been in a daze. It’s common knowledge that when you go away and step outside the everyday patterns of work and family responsibilities, your body and mind start following what are probably their more natural rhythms. When your first arrive at your destination, you look at all the poor folks who are just ending their vacation and you take pity on them, not fully realizing that you too will be just like them in a week’s time. In our case, when we stepped off the ferry onto the island, we saw all the people lined up with their cars stuffed to bursting, waiting to get back on the ferry for the trip back to the mainland and the real world that accompanies it. We were giddy. A week later, we were the sad sacks waiting in line to sail back to reality. But the week in between was magical as always. The weather cooperated most of the time. We rode our bikes, swam almost every day in the quarries, read books, and slept as late as we wanted. My children became island kids for a little while, and my wife and I wondered, as we always do, what it would be like to live on an island and pursue the contemplative, artistic life. Probably very hard. My fantasies of being a published author resurfaced. Vacations always force me to challenge the expectations I have of myself, making me see the dichotomy between what my life is right now, and what I’d like it to become. Reading and writing books sounds like a great way to earn a living. I imagine my kids gently knocking on the door of my study (oh, to have a study!), asking me if I’m done with the day’s writing so I can come outside and play with them. I’m going to read A Wrinkle in Time and Island of the Blue Dolphins next to inspire me to write a children’s story. When I was younger, my mom used to call me the Absent-Minded Professor. I guess that description still fits. If I had my way, I’d live in my own mind most of the time, but the pressures (and joys) of work and child-rearing intrude on my private little dreamworld. The greatest pleasure of any vacation for me is having the space and time to allow that dreamworld inside myself take a more prominent place in my daily life, if even for a few days or a week. Swimming naked in a quarry isn’t a bad perk either, although I couldn’t help noticing upon my return that all my swimming didn’t end war. Guess I’ll have to keep at it.