Liev and I journey to beaches with trimestrial regularity. We breathe in crisp Atlantic breezes while connecting to exotic Wi-Fi servers with passcodes like “relax” and “eenjoy.” Years of beach vacations have blessed us with a comfortable travel groove.
We respect each other’s duties, preferences, and energy levels. I drive and tell convoluted special-interest stories. Liev types, prints and recites our schedules. Most recently, he lettered a giant “Excuse me, I have Tourette’s!” sign for the window behind him since some folks with Tourette’s flip people off as well as curse. A dozen members of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will attest to this.
We startle fellow travelers at rest stop vending machines with scheduled disagreements:
“Mama! Give me the quarters! I have to buy us Aquafina!”
“Liev, I want Smart Water instead!”
“NOOOO! Smart Water is a marketing gimmick! Don’t be a fool! You’re wasting our money! We have to buy Aquafina!”
“How about we get Dasani?”
“Oh, okay. Dasani is cool. Can I have starburst, too?
“NOOOOO! Starbursts are too sugary, and you will get diabetes!”
Our groove means planning. Smallish totes of noodly soups, cracker assortments, and diverse dry goods nest in a basement corner. Next to them, sit boxes crammed with household tools, electrical components, and trip-only books and fidgets. Not only can Liev and I vanish on a whim, but we are prepared for any apocalypse lasting less than a week.
I sometimes worry my preparedness is excessive. Yet, as we move into our latest efficiency, I spot a desiccated pink dish sponge. It languishes beside an ancient bottle of lemon Ajax dish soap. Hah! I whip out my new Scotch Brite sponge and green Palmolive in a Purell pump. I am so self-satisfied I whoop, startling a child sneaking behind our cottage.
The giant fan we brought not only drowns out our neighbor’s drinking party but also my son’s expletive-laden reaction to the case of Smart Water I packed. As I replace the cucumber-overload bar soap with a bottle of Method unscented, I sing a happy song. I will not spend my vacation semi-distracted by artificial melon residue!
All the toys and books, every sock and extension cord has a special place. Liev sorts food into the refrigerator and fills ice cube trays as I plop electronics into the top leftmost drawer in our room. We go outside for fresh air and a tension release. Our beer-loving neighbors turn down their music to listen to our three-syllable debate. Liev wants to alert the front desk to the possibility that their ice machines might harbor pathogens. I want peace and quiet.
“Salmonella! Legionella! E. coli!” Liev laments. “Even Typhoid and Cholera live in ice machines! Mama, we could die! It’s a public health issue!” I know the truth. It’s hot. He’s hungry. Breakfast for dinner will be served and the front desk will receive an adorable, but disturbing note from my nine-year-old. Our neighbors side-eye us but buy their ice from the local grocer.
Fun times and emotional venting go hand in hand because overstimulation does not care. Mind-losing and hysteria are as expected as toilet breaks. So, if you see a mother and child heatedly discussing whether waffles should be eaten like pizza, cast your judgment aside. Cutting food into tiny pieces and forking it into your mouth is hard when you are trying not to shout unforgivable obscenities at nearby giggly teenagers.
Do not think our life hard or sad because we are so different. Most of our moments are double rainbow awesome. Imagine feeling so happy or excited you shout “Holy Cow!” (or a vulgarity of similar import). But instead of it being over the women’s tennis, it’s because waffles are delicious. Imagine never being able to dial that down, even though your brain tells you to chill because everyone is staring. You learn to either hide from waffle-judgers or to say excuse me over and over again.
Well, life is full of excuse-mes anyway. It’s what you say to be polite when you might bother someone. Our bothers are just unexpected, that’s all. And isn’t the unexpected often delightful?