It’s amazing how refreshing a week away can be- how clarifying for the mind. After going non-stop since entering grad school last August, I finally took a vacation last week. My mom decided it would be fun to take a family road trip, so we headed west out through Iowa and South Dakota to Wyoming, and then back east to Pennsylvania/New Jersey through Missouri.
I had a lot of apprehensions before going on this trip- losing time in lab, missing events in Pittsburgh that I’d wanted to go to, and most of all, a week in the car with my entire family (!)- but it turned out to be a really good time. Of course there’s an adjustment period when you stick 5 people together that haven’t been in such close quarters in years. It definitely took some work to make this trip work. Our last family vacation was probably 4 or 5 years ago. But after- and even while in the process of- overcoming those problems, we were able to have some fun and memorable adventures (like our epic overnight drive through South Dakota that ended with us stopping to sleep at a truck stop at 5 am!) and create some lasting memories. Now that I’m moved out and one of my sisters is in college, I know these kinds of moments are going to be fewer and farther between, so I’m coming to appreciate them more.
I also underestimated how nice a break would be. The first day was tough, and it was a struggle to put out of my mind all the things I would be doing had I been at work and not on vacation. That lasted about a day or two and then I realized that I don’t know when my next long vacation will be so I should take advantage of this time to relax! And that was a great mindset to be in, and allowed me to appreciate and enjoy the trip a lot more than if I’d been worrying about Pittsburgh things the entire time. I came back to campus yesterday refreshed and calmer than I have been in a while- possibly since my very first day at Pitt!
I titled this post “a breath of fresh air” for a few reasons.
- I literally got more fresh air on this vacation than I ever have gotten living in New Jersey or Pittsburgh. We went through so much wilderness and farmland and it was a big shift from city life but it was refreshing.
- A change of pace- from lab and science and critical thinking to hopping in a car and letting someone else make all the decisions (where to go, when to eat, how long to drive…) was a breath of fresh air for my brain.
- And a second change of pace- from living alone or choosing to spend time with friends, to spending every moment with my entire family, was something that hasn’t happened for an extended time, since 2008, when I went off to college.
So now I’m back, and appreciating this vacation even more now that it’s over and I’m back in the midst of real life. (Just don’t let my mom hear that- I still don’t know if I can do a family trip every year! 😉 ) But this year, it was actually a good decision.