I Realized Today that I’m Terrified to go on Vacation
Despite coming from a family of through and through Americans, we have never been the type to spend money on ourselves.
Back in February, my now-former roommate was complaining about how badly they wanted to get away and escape for a little while. Our employer had just sent out an email reminding us of our extra benefits. You know, things like discounts to car insurance (that’s still more expensive than literally any other plan even with their discount), discounts on new cars (but only the luxury cars, because that’s what customer service reps can afford, yep yep), and, well, things like Disney tickets.
Now, putting aside for a moment that literally all of the ‘rewards’ that the company offers are well out of the price range of their average employee, even with the discounts offered (and given that they sent that reminder right after telling us they were gutting everyone’s bonuses, I can almost guarantee none of that is on accident), I had a little giggle at the message and said ‘why don’t you look at Disney packages?’
When I took my next break, I found out the they’d planned an entire Disney vacation with some friends of ours. My little joke had turned into something entirely out of my control, and no one had asked me before making these plans. (And, also, this same person has since bailed on this plan.)
And…well, I was in tears, because the option now before me was go, or be responsible stay home but watch as all my friends went and then came back and regaled me with tales of something I’ve wanted to do since I was three and first saw that advert about the brothers packing for a Disney trip several weeks before they were going to leave for it. It was on The Lion King’s 1995 VHS tape, and, since we watched that movie a lot, we watched that ad a lot. Somehow, this ad, more than all their flashy ads with music and magic and sweeping camera angles, was the one that hooked me. I wanted a Disney vacation.
Except, in my family, vacations aren’t exactly something that happened. I’ve actually never been on a true vacation. Yeah, some school trips and, when I was still going to church, church trips occurred, but I’ve never just gone somewhere with no other reason attached. Trip to New York? Funded by a scholastic organization so I could study theater over the summer in high school because I was such a good student. California, Florida, Paris? I’ve been there. Because my school put together trips and we all fought and clawed to fundraise around the community. 95% of most extracurricular things my school did were funded by the community, with the rest of those costs pretty much being attributed to the school allowing us to use the school buses to travel within the northern half of state. Anything else and we had to find alternative transportation, which we then had a fundraiser to pay for. It’s a lot easier to get donations for trips when you’re saying ‘it’s for school!’ than it is if you’re just going to random strangers and saying ‘I really want to go to Disney, will you buy some over priced candy from me to help me get there?’
That isn’t to say we never went anywhere, but a single mom raising two kids and hoping to send them both to college doesn’t have a lot of luxury room for vacations, financially or time-wise since hey, America doesn’t mandate PTO time so most PTO offers are piddling if anything, and usually must be saved for emergencies, like flu season (I’ve heard some companies offer sick days in addition to PTO, but this feels like a mythical unicorn because I’ve never known anyone who worked for an organization that offered them).
So now, after a lifetime of not wasting money on over-priced trips when there’s plenty of cheap fun things to do within driving distance, it feels sacrilegious to spend money on a vacation for myself. I don’t even have kids to use as an excuse. (Disney isn’t just for kids, but, at the very least, people are more understanding if you have them and choose to go to a Disney park.) Yeah, I’m going with friends, but I keep thinking of all the more important things that money should probably be going towards. Or at the very least it should be shoved into a savings account. And I’ve spent hours over the last month agonizing over what this means and what I should do but now the tickets have been purchased and I leave in two days but I still feel like I’m going to be sick because I’m so anxious.
There are, of course, a few other financial concerns. Like that former roommate. The parting was not on good terms, and there are financial issues to be dealt with as bills get untangled. But I have switched to a cheaper internet provider (saving $40 a month) and a much cheaper car insurance (saving $1,000 a year — roughly $60 a month) and, now that I can actually use the kitchen because gross ex-roommate is no longer hogging all the space with gross dirty dishes, I’ve also cut my grocery bill in half.
I’m doing really well. Better than I give myself credit for. And I don’t want to imply that I’m not excited, because every fiber of my terrified being is beyond excited. There is a little kid in me who’s dreams are coming true, and I simply cannot wait.
But at the back of my mind I still remember sitting with my grandma, going through the canned food and labeling each of them, checking to see if there were signs they’d gone bad and then deciding which ones were still good. Some of those cans were months old. A few were over a year old. But she grew up in the great depression, and before she had kids (my mom was born in 1960) she had three jobs at the same time. She worked 60 hours a week — in the 50s. You know, that era that’s remembered for one-income households with super hardcore housekeeping wives. She did that, too, but I knew that myth was wrong even before I knew that myth existed. She’d pretty much always been working, since she grew up on a farm in the Great Depression. She also told me stories about her sister, who worked at the bank as a teenager and, apparently, used to run up and down the bank steps in roller skates when making deliveries. I don’t remember what she was delivering, but I know it was important. I feel selfish, spending on myself instead of living up to my family’s female legacies. Even my great grandma was pretty amazing on this front, running a well off, late-1800s farm more or less on her own. And her mom before her supposedly also did amazing things, though none of these ladies would ever be listed in a history book. They didn’t change the world or even their localities, but they certainly did very well for themselves in a country that tends not to favor its rural civilians, working hard to get by.
I also feel selfish when I think of my mom, popping me up on the bathroom counter at 6AM to playfully put a bit of makeup on me so we could ‘get ready for work’ together. Then kissing me goodbye because she had to be to work by 7:30, and wouldn’t be home til 4 or so. Because she was preparing for my future.
I don’t even have kids, but I feel selfish not preparing for my possible kids’ futures. I might never have kids. But what if I do? I’m fine on my own, but I’m not in any position to support another human.
I do kind of want kids, too. Everyone has always told me I’m the mom of any group. The worrier and the watcher, and the compass.
But on the other hand, it is extremely unhealthy to pour everything into work and have no play time. But then again, I am also trying to relocate myself to a bigger city, so I can have a chance at actually meeting some nerdy girls that are chill with a socially awkward turtle such as myself so that I could maybe have those kids I do want to have. (There are hundreds of other reasons, ranging from important, like more job opportunities, to kinda silly but generally appreciated, like nicer roads, but since we’re on a social discussion, that’s a pretty good social calling.) Relocation isn’t cheap, even if it is only four hours away. Not even thinking about moving-in costs for rent, there’s still at least a couple hundred dollars of moving costs, even if I don’t hire movers, though I might have to because I’m on the third floor and I had to hire movers to get some of the furniture up the stairs and I’m sure I’ll need help getting those pieces back down.
Trucks are expensive.
Life is expensive. And it’s only getting worse.
I have so much anxiety at the thought of going on vacation, knowing how bad things are and knowing how much worse they could get.
But the tickets were bought months ago. I packed my bag yesterday. My flight leaves on Thursday. The time to back out has long passed.
…Though I do need to remember to pick up snacks to take into the parks. Disney food is expensive!