Getting Out of Dodge

March 5th, 2014  Posted at   Writing

Getting out of Dodge

By Leslie Bamford

(written before retirement)

Summer vacation.  Also known as R and R, breathing space, furlough, holiday, intermission, leave, liberty, respite, sabbatical, time off.  In boating circles, sometimes called Shore Leave. In military circles, AWOL if you don’t have permission.  According to a jet-setting friend of mine, it’s also called Getting Out of Dodge.

Official definition of vacation:  leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure.

Yah right.

They clearly didn’t take holidays with my husband, Captain Bob.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s got the pleasure part covered as he is lots of fun to hang out with, if only I could keep up with him.  It’s the restful part that is missing.

My first marriage was quiet and intellectual. Plenty of great conversations and ideas discussed over delicious restaurant meals, but not a lot of adventure. Perhaps I didn’t want adventure back then. But when I was approaching my mid-forties, I changed. I was attracted to Bob’s get-up-and-go nature right from the start. Now I am exhausted, covered with bruises and stiff and sore in muscles that I didn’t know I had – like Leonard Cohen, I “ache in the places where I used to play”. And this is a good thing.

But I am confused.

Every morning for the past eighteen days (not that I was counting), I have awoken to a mystery.

Which of Bob’s many personalities will I spend my day with today?

Will it be Marina Bob, which will entail hours in the car with the goal getting to a marina of his choice, drooling over boats that belong to other people?  (I make the sandwiches, pack the water bottles, veggies, apples and we’re off.)

Or Cycling Bob, who is sometimes combined with Marina Bob and entails biking on trails in places like Hamilton, Burlington or Port Credit, with marinas to ogle along the way and lake views essential to Bob’s water-loving spirit.  (I make the sandwiches, pack the water bottles, veggies and apples, and we’re off.)

Will it be Piano Man Bob and entail a long walk to the music store in uptown Waterloo, to drool over pianos (we already have one but he’s fallen in love with another Rolland).

Or Wimbledon Bob, requiring playing tennis for hours in a hot, humid tennis bubble which gives me heat stroke.

Then again, it might be River Bob and entail a canoe trip on the Grand (I pack make the sandwiches, pack the water bottles, veggies, apples and we’re off).  Or Gunnel Bobbing Bob (he’ll explain what that is, just let it go on the record that I’m not doing it) involving canoeing at Laurel Creek after figuring out how we could wrestle the canoe on our car with my puny arm muscles as part of the hoisting team (I am happy to report that we did!).  You guessed it, I pack the lunch.  Again.

There’s also Orthotic Bob, who likes to go on 2-3 hour walks which leave me limping on my plantar faciitis.  Some of these are in-town walks, some are hikes on trails in the region.  Most require view of water and all are exhausting.

Or maybe Easy Rider Bob will rise today and suggest a death-defying trip on our Vespas to God knows where (water viewing involved, no doubt).  I’ve out-foxed him on that one, though, I let my M1 license expire during our vacation.  I didn’t call my Vespa Foxy-Anne for nothing.

But time to sit and relax in the garden, read a few books, put my feet up – where did that vision go?  I thought by not going away over-night on this holiday, by taking a trendy, recession-conscious stay-cation, I would have more time to relax.  I wouldn’t have to pack and unpack a thing – what bliss.  But in fact, I packed and unpacked constantly on this holiday.  Purse to fanny pack.  Fanny pack back to purse back to fanny pack.  Bike helmet, gloves, water bottles, lunches.  Bailer, line, whistle, water shoes, waterproof bags, life jackets, paddles, lunches.  Tennis racket, distance glasses, arm bandit, water bottles. Appropriate hats.  Appropriate shoes.  Sunglasses.  Necessary medication.  Rain gear.  Suntan lotion. The list went on and every day, it was different.

But if it had not been for Bob, I would not have gone on most of those adventures because they would be no fun alone.  Without Bob, I would not have seen the fair weather clouds over an azure blue Lake Ontario, the white hulls of the sailboats glistening in the marinas, the gulls swooping and calling to one another, the cormorants drying their wings on the rocks.  I would not have seen the osprey flying over the Grand River, a fish in his talons, or the great Blue Herons beating their majestic wings over the water right in front of our canoe.  I would not have seen the reflection of the sky in the calm water of the Grand, like a mirror reflecting eternity in the morning.  Or the magical twisted logs at Laurel Creek, surely the domain of elves.  I would not have pushed myself to bike up that last hill, or dug down deep for that last ounce of energy in the humidity, or walked that last mile with a sore foot while having to pee. I might have sunk into lethargy, become torpid and turned into a couch-potato – and that would never do.  I have to go back to work for that.

There are two more Bobs to share with you.

Fantasy Bob decided that for evening R&R during vacation, we should watch Lord of the Rings again (all three movies) and then watch the extended version special features DVDs.  I agreed, not knowing that the special features were 20 hours long.  So whenever we had a night at home during vacation, we have been immersed in the Making of Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  And what a trip this has been.  Thanks to Bob, I now know, for the first time in my life, exactly how movies are made. The dvds are like a university course in film making.  From set designers to musical scorers to horse trainers to miniature builders to sound technicians and costume designers, to the meaning of post-production and what film editing entails, the process is a testament to the creativity of mankind and in this case, the vision of Peter Jackson, director, who is clearly some kind of genius as he was able to keep thousands of details in his mind at once.  It took Peter and his actors and crew six years to make those three movies.  I have come to the conclusion that writing a book is child’s play in comparison to a movie project of this scope, and I stand in awe of everyone involved in these marvelous movies. The spirit of Peter Jackson and everyone involved in that project has infused magic  into my soul this vacation.  Watching the dvds has inspired me anew to write, paint, create, play my flute, and learn new pieces on the piano.  I highly recommend them to anyone with nothing to do for 20 hours.

Speaking of pianos, Bob had one final personality this vacation that I want to share with you.  This one was my personal favourite as I am also the beneficiary of his choices.  I call this one What Recession Bob.

Major items purchased by Bob in the last two weeks include – so far (you just never know what he was doing today):

Rolland Electronic Piano, shiny Ebony case, fabulous sound (now on order – wanna buy an electronic Suzuki Piano in perfect condition?)

Wenonah Spirit II Canoe, 17 feet long, Kevlar composite, red with wood trim (now on order)

Yakima Canoe Rack (installed)

Nissan crossbars (installed)

Yakima canoe rack baffle to prevent canoe rack from howling like a banshee in the wind at speeds over 75 clicks (installed, the silence is blissful)

Canoe accessories mentioned above, purchased.

Blackberry Bold (x 2, I have to keep up, after all).

Clearly someone has to go back to work to pay for all this.   Good thing we both still have jobs.

Stay-cations.  Hmmm.  Not sure we have nailed that concept down.  After all, we were away from the house, if not out of town, nearly every day in the past eighteen days.  Ask our cat, Blackberry, who was dismayed by the door closing on him, day after day.  He finally wouldn’t look at us anymore when we put on our Tilley hats.

My jet-setting friend would be proud of us, though.  We actually Got Out of Dodge big time these past two weeks. And when we were in town, we were consorting with elves, dwarves, orcs and hobbits, the product of J.R. Tolkein’s incredible imagination, kick-starting our Fall creative projects by osmosis.

Did we avoid packing and unpacking?  No.

Did we save money?  No.

Did we rest?  No.

But was I bored?  NO!

Maybe we can survive retirement together after all.  As long we make room for all my personalities too.  I’m not telling Bob what they are, though, have to keep him guessing.  Long live the mystery called marriage.

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