So after the endless winter, with months of parkas and gloves and boots and depressing dreariness, it's spring break. We go away for Passover each year, which makes sense since my wife and daughters are in a Jewish school and this coincides with spring break. The Boy, in his secular high school, just gets to miss some time (which does not upset him, even though he is schlepping all of his schoolbooks and papers with him, and is going to need to communicate with his somewhat cranky-about-this teachers by email. They are particularly cranky, since his March and April basically consisted of two weeks of his own spring break; a week of dress rehearsals for his musical, where he missed considerable time getting ready to bring down the house in Drowsy Chaperone; and now this.).
We are all pretty beat. Amanda's been finishing grading 104 exams and first drafts of term papers (all of which seem to be about Hatshepsut's sexuality and the Six Day War, albeit not in the SAME paper). My work's been busy and intense, with lots going on and manuscripts pouring in both from new clients and more established authors. We're putting the finishing touches on five new deals, some of which are more complicated than they have any right to be. It's never boring, and it's relentless.
So when we decided to take the family, Getzler-side, to Costa Rica, it became a Holy Grail. "Just two more weeks till Costa Rica," we said, sitting down to dinner at 10 PM. Again. "It's going to be quiet in Costa Rica," we said as the girls yelled at us that something wasn't Fair. Again. "We'll be able to sit and relax in Costa Rica we said as we sat next to each other yesterday afternoon, Amanda finishing her last paper-grading and me going through the third draft of a slightly unusual agreement and loading the sixth manuscript into the Kindle.
And as I sit on the airplane, two hours from San Jose, the tension is already melting away. Part of it is the knowledge that we are at last out of town. But the other part of it is that, while they are in the midst of the hell that is tween-and-teen-dom, our children are, fundamentally, good kids. And while being 10, 11, and almost 15 makes them sullen and grouchy and argumentative (SOMETIMES, my wife is making me add, punching me), it also makes them a hell of a lot easier to travel with.
And it's not just the fact that they are able to find their way to the bathroom and can ask for sodas all by themselves (which is marvelous!), and don't need to hear Green Eggs and Ham four hundred times consecutively so they don't scream (happened!). It's also the way they go about planning the trip, and what they are going to take with them.
Yes sure, part of the packing involved choosing cute outfits and accessories (particularly for the girls--Joe would be content to wear the same Green Lantern t-shirt all the time, including for seder), and downloading inexplicable albums onto their devices. (Sweeney Todd? Queen's Greatest Hits? One Dir--OK, THAT one makes sense.) But part of it involved the discussion surrounding, and the choosing of, Vacation Reading. In addition to the manuscripts--which are among the reasons I love my job, and are the best kinds of work a person could have--I promised middle daughter JJ that I'd finally read A Fault in our Stars this vacation, so she and I could be Movie Buddies together when the film comes out. As I was taking it off the shelf to put it into my suitcase, The Boy saw and actually showed interest in something unrelated to histories of film studios or Dave Barry collections and said "Oh man, I've been wanting to read that. If you take it, give it to me when you are done."
The ten year-old has it easy. She's bringing Harry 5, which will last the vacation. Amanda the history teacher has a fun take on British history called 1000 Years of Annoying the French, and Amanda the Wife of the Agent is going to take breaks by reading Blue Sea Burning, the final installment of The Chronicles of Egg series by my incredibly talented client Geoff Rodkey. My mother has The Goldfinch. My father, a bunch of magazines and whatever I download for him once we get there...
There are other bits of reading material in our suitcases too, along with bathing suits and running shorts--middle grade novels involving cupcakes and Woody Allen's Side Effects, The New Yorker and Bop and Vanity Fair and Seventeen and Entertainment Weekly. And Amanda stole the Sky Mall. We are on vacation.