The bubble

Maybe it's all the Murakami we've been reading, but it strikes me that a vacation is like a bubble of time: protected, enclosed, but temporary, fragile, and all the more appealing for its gossamer impermanence. The person you are, the things you see when you're on vacation aren't so much in a different dimension from your real life --- as Darren suggested tonight, recounting everything in his life that changed while we were away --- as they are momentarily suspended, segregated, compartmentalised in a different realm of possibility.

The lead-up to a vacation is, after all, packed with realness: With a finite number of days or hours remaining at home, there's laundry to do, clothes to pack, TV programmes to record on the VCR, perishable food to eat or toss out, trash to flush down the rubbish chute, windows to close, and, if the vacation's a long one, electronic appliances to unplug from the wall sockets. At work, there's work to finish, that must be finished, before one can depart with a truly free spirit, without fear that the cellphone will ring, unwelcome, or that one will, upon return, be blamed for things left out of place.

The vacation truly begins when one finally leaves home for the airport. The bags are packed: anything forgotten must be acquired en route. The air tickets are in hand: any changes to the intinerary are at the discretion of the airline or the governments concerned. The posture is straightened, a quiet metamorphosis from the worker bee into the leisure traveller.

Forget work. Forget anything to do with the mundanity of life: family (never mind the startling updates the night before that half the cousins are either pregnant or getting engaged), friends, colleagues, blogs, bills, news, obligations, plans, goals, dreams. All is on hold, all can wait till you get back, till you're ready to take up them up again. For now, there is only an air ticket, a seat on the plane, a journey across time and space.

What happens on the vacation, stays on the vacation. The people you meet, you'll likely never meet again. The things you see, disconnected from their real context for tourists' eyes, you may never fully understand (and certainly not in a matter of the few days in that foreign land). The money you spend, you tell yourself it's from a different budget, your conscience eased perhaps by a translation of the foreign currency into manageable, equivalent amounts. And the person you are, you choose. Nobody knows who you are, back home. You are who you are, right now.

You forget to set the alarm clock.

Then it ends, inevitably. Bags are repacked, the vacation mood folded away with the clothes. The journey home doesn't seem as long as it took to get there; the familiar is just around the corner. Things forgotten begin to nose into one's consciousness: news headlines on the airport TVs, news magazines on the flight, cellphone beeps after touchdown.

The key twists in the lock, the door opens, the week-old air rushes to greet you like a forgotten puppy. The bubble bursts.

And everything's right where you left it.


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At 8/11/2005 4:41 am , Blogger wahj said...

Welcome back ...

... to reality!


No but seriously, hope you and T had a great time in Bali.

At 8/11/2005 10:34 am , Blogger limegreenspyda said...

the problem with a vacation is, sometimes, that one brings one's Self along. so the things one sees or does are tinged with the implications of Self.

in a sinister way, the becomes the driving point of one's vacation.

At 8/11/2005 12:37 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

What's the difference between France and Singapore? We get two months vacation. You just get 5 days.

Of course, the one bad thing is that I was on vacation so long it stopped being like vacation, and almost like real life.

At 8/12/2005 9:09 am , Blogger tscd said...

So...I guess you had a good vacation?

At 8/13/2005 6:08 am , Blogger Tym said...

Yes, a good vacation. Been trying to blog about it, but I always find that really hard after coming home.

Nardac --- I got 21 days of leave a year at the previous job. As a teacher, I don't get leave per se during the school term (except for emergency situations, e.g. death in the family), but school vacations run for 12 weeks of the year. Of course, I don't get to take all 12 weeks off ... Anyway, there were many, many French people in Bali. You'd've thought there was a direct transporter beaming them from the Cote d'Azur to Bali shores.


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