The girls are on spring break this week, and yesterday, while driving home from the Constitution Center in Philly, my friend Dave’s Facebook status made me laugh:
I can’t help but notice that my friends’ spring break photos are a lot heavier on museums, cultural spots, and family activities, and a lot lighter on body shots, beer funnels, and bad dancing than they used to be. We must be growing up.
I have known Dave for 30 years, and while neither of us were ever shy with a beer funnel, I had to agree with his assessment. However I told him not to fret, as baby bags now come equipped with insulated beers holders. Bottles, shmottles.
In the last few months, when the stress of moving threatened to break us, Phil and I fantasized about going away for spring break. But the reality is:
- We have no more money.
- Go “away?” Isn’t this away? Where’s home? Where are we?
- Where are our bathing suits?
- We have no more money.
So, instead Phil took a few days off for a mini-staycation. A staycation, of course, is a vacation taken at home. Although I must admit I was wary about something that sounds like a good idea, but actually looks more like this:
Stay-ca-tion (n): 1. A chance to look around at the chaos that is your life and remember why you were fantasizing about an escape to a tropical island. 2. A reminder that your kids are not just quarrelsome holy terrors after school, they are actually like that all day.
But, this Debbie Downer is pleased to report that a staycation was just we needed.
We have visited some old haunts in Philly, unpacked a box or two, and saw some friends. And for the first time since our return to PA, Phil and I have just hung out: in our kitchen, drinking beers, taking turns being the deejay….we call this a Lifelab Session.
So during last night’s Session, we started talking about our most memorable spring break. Interestingly, neither his pick nor mine was of the Bahamas-wet-tshirt-contest variety. (Disclaimer: We are not saying that we were above trips that included Jello shots and pole dancing, but simply were not cool enough to consider it in the first place).
My first two years of college were rough. I left for a semester, came back, changed majors, gained weight, lost weight, drank too much, changed majors again….I think the term for this is
hot mess “finding yourself.” Sophomore year I lived alone while all my former hall mates pledged sororities, which was conducive to “finding yourself” but was really, really lonely.
By junior year things turned around, and I started hanging out with a great group of friends that are still my b-fries to this day. We all moved in together and it was awesome – one of the best years of my life. But sometimes…I could get a little overwhelmed by the closeness. I went from being a hermit to a pack member almost overnight, and I think my happy place was somewhere in between.
So when my grandmother (Nannie) called me and said, “I can give you money when I am dead, or I can give you money now, but if I give it to you now you have to use it to go visit Helen in London for spring break,” I said, “Now is good.” Nannie was the bomb.
Helen is my best friend from childhood. In high school, I probably spent more nights on her parents’ couch then I did in my own bed. And while Helen is Taiwanese, she actually wanted to be British, and decided to spend her junior year at University of Michigan abroad.
Helen and I were so different, but I think that’s what made our friendship work. She wore vintage clothes from flea markets, I wore hippy skirts from head shops. She went to jazz clubs and punk rock shows, I went to outdoor music festivals. But when I was with her, I always learned something new – about art or music or poetry – and this felt expansive. Plus we laughed a lot and did a bunch of dumb things.
London with Helen was not about double-decker buses circling Big Ben. London with Helen was art museums and hidden gem noodle houses serving huge portions for cheap.
London with Helen was taking baths with water we boiled in the kitchen sink when our hair had finally become too dirty to tolerate.
London with Helen was sitting on the curb outside her flat, chain smoking Parliaments and drinking forties of Stella out of a brown paper bag.
And apparently, London with Helen was wearing REALLY RED LIPSTICK.
London with Helen was exactly where I needed to be that spring break.
*Because all LifeLab Sessions center around good tunes, Phil and I each created a mini-playlist to recapture the essence of our favorite spring break adventure. Here are the tunes that remind me of that trip -and my life- circa 1998:
- “Girls and Boys”/ Blur: A perfect pre-game song. Tequila shots required. I mean, it can’t all be about museums – it was spring break, after all.
- “Sometimes, Always”/ The Jesus and Mary Chain: I still love this song. It’s so peppy. It also reminds me of the Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt I used to wear to torture my mother who probably thought I was in an anti-Catholic cult.
- “There She Goes”/ The La’s: This song reminds me of all my girl crushes. Whatever, stop judging, you know you had one too.
- “Fake Plastic Trees”/ Radiohead: Oh, Radiohead. Is it really that bad? A great song to listen to in your room in complete darkness and cry about how no one understands you, you will never fit in anywhere, wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
- “Everyday is Like Sunday”/ Morrissey: How can you make a London playlist without The Smiths/Morrissey? This song is the 3rd track on Morrissey’s debut album, and it makes me think of a rainy, hungover, “cave day.” Although I heard it’s actually about a group of Australians waiting for nuclear devastation. Which is way more depressing.
Do you have a favorite spring break? What songs would play on that soundtrack?
Stay tuned tomorrow for Phil’s edition of Spring Breakdown: Part 2……