We've been back from vacation for two days now, and I realized on Saturday that the urge to share bad vacation stories is not unlike the need to share birth stories--particularly birth stories that involve squirm-in-your-seat gruesome details. Even though I had sworn nine years ago I wouldn't be one of those new mothers who went on and on in intimate detail about their labor and birth experience, only days after L.'s birth I found myself to be exactly that kind of woman. (Did I mention I pushed for TWO and a HALF HOURS? What about my birth canal? Did I tell you about my birth canal?) And so, apparently, this is the way I am with bad vacation stories. Minutes after we showed up at the pool Saturday, and freshly (and I do mean "freshly"--see below for more) back from our beach vacation, I had told no less than four separate people about the trip. Why? I don't know. Maybe to purge myself, maybe to get it out there--the bottled up disappointment and frustration with the week. And although there were moments last week when we wanted to pack it all in and head home, we stuck it out. Vacations, when you think about it, are not unlike birth experiences. Sometimes not everything goes exactly the way you want it to go; in the end, though the bad recedes away, like the foam on the beach, leaving behind the good stuff--the stuff worth keeping. ******** Do you want the lowdown? Of course you do: Day 1--Saturday Arrive at beach house, turn key, discover house reeks--REEKS--of crab/fish/Old Bay. Carpets are dirty, bedding looks iffy, kitchen is sticky. Scott and I spend a solid 50 minutes with bottles of Clorox before we allow the kids to touch anything. Day 2--Sunday, early hours Awake at midnight, 2:00 am, 3:00 am, 5:00 am with T. who has suddenly developed croup and is wheezing and gasping for breath. Watch dawn break over the ocean from the back porch while holding daughter who is still fighting for breath. Day 2--Sunday Spend the morning on the phone with local Urgent Care who keep telling me they aren't technically open because they don't know where their care provider is. After several phone calls discover provider was in minor car accident and won't be in. Load up the kids and drive 40 miles to next nearest Urgent Care. Spend entire dinner budget on prescription bronchial inhaler. Day 3--Monday Rain. L. complains stomach "isn't right". Go to local museum and spend 30 minutes watching and re-watching old 1946 documentary on missiles and examining shell collection while son uses the bathroom. Spend additional 15 minutes discussing what to do about lack of change of clothes for L. Return to house and discover it still smells, even after keeping every window open and spending $10 on air fresheners. Now it smells like fish/crab/Old Bay and cinnamon. Spend afternoon at realty office discussing smelly house with agents there. Finally get them to agree to send carpet cleaners and cleaning lady on Tuesday. Day 4--Tuesday, early hours. Up at night with sick L. Day 4--Tuesday Spend morning taking turns with Scott to wait at the house for carpet cleaners and cleaning lady. They finally show up at 11:00 and agree the house smells "bad". Day 5--Wednesday One perfect, short-lived morning at beach. By afternoon, MY stomach is "off". And by "off", I mean "OFF". Spend late afternoon in bathroom. Day 6--Thursday Spend whole day eating saltines and drinking ginger ale, too sick to move from the couch. By 7:00 stomach has recovered enough to head to back porch to watch a magnificent rainbow stretching across the ocean. Day 7--Friday, early hours Too sick to sleep (I'll spare you the details) Day 7--Friday Feeling better. Glorious, fantastic day at the beach. Watched dolphins so close we could see the water pour off their backs as they jumped in the waves. Day 8--Saturday Vacation over. Load up car, roll windows down to wash out any residual beach house smell, and drive home. Spend afternoon doing piles of laundry to purge all belongings of crab/fish/Old Bay/funky carpet/cinnamon smell. After dinner Scott mentions his stomach feels "off". Which is why, at 5:00 on Saturday, I--who love the ocean, who has vacationed in places without running water, who has camped on the beach, and weathered all sorts of conditions, lay on a lounge chair at the pool, happy to be home, and gladly purged my soul to anyone who happened--just so happened--to dare ask me about our vacation.