Staycation….NOT CategoriesThe World According to Helen


It’s hard to believe that summer has come to an end. It brought me back to one summer eons ago when my daughter was a pre-teen and money was tight. While her friends were traveling to exotic destinations like Disneyland and Lake Geneva, I suggested a wonderful “at home vacation”.

Imagine, no turning off 138 necessities of life, leaving the poor dog in a “pet holiday spa” that resembled the black hole of Calcutta, jamming the family in a car, and setting off for Mosquito Larvae Lake or Kneespread, Texas, to God knows what awaits you.

My husband was suspicious about an “at home” vacation. But my daughter was downright surly. I told her: “How would you like to vacation in a place with two ovens, good food, a bedroom for everyone, and indoor plumbing? “ It sounds like home to me,” she grumbled. “Let’s think of it as Disneyland,” I smiled. “The kitchen is Adventureland, the laundry room is Frontierland, the garage is Tomorrowland, the bathroom Main Street USA, and the bedroom, Fantasyland.

The first day of the vacation, I had a few chores for my husband, “just to pull the house together.” This included fertilizing, seeding and mowing the lawn, painting the exterior of the house, installing a humidifier in the crawl space in the hall closet, wallpapering two bedrooms, and — if there was time –stripping the kitchen cabinets and staining them so the kitchen wouldn’t seem so dark.

On the morning of the second day, I received a phone call from Mira and Don 

Spooner from Billings, Montana. Mira said they and their two little boys, Ricky and Richie, were passing through town when Mira remembered her old friend whom she had not seen since nursery school. When I asked her who the old friend was, she said it was me. Naturally, I invited them to stay a few days. They unloaded five years of laundry, fifteen suitcases, and a cooler that leaked on my hardwood floors.

We discovered Richie could bounce a basketball against the house for 230 hours without stopping. Don was a finalist in the gargling Olympics. Mira’s only mental stimulation was sitting in front of the TV in her size 22L black thongs watching marathon Real Housewives of New Jersey episodes. Ricky wouldn’t drink water from a glass if it was not wrapped in transparent wrap like the motels. Richie liked to throw rocks in the toilet because it bubbled when he did that. Mira was allergic to domesticity and let me do the laundry because she wasn’t “into electricity.” The Spooners stayed for four days, which took us to the end of our vacation. The visit–counting short trips, entertainment, extra food and drink, and an $80-dollar plumbing bill to turn off the bubble machine–set us back $ 450.

We never stayed home on vacation again.

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Helen was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was raised in New Jersey and after graduating from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, became a professional fundraiser. She was employed by the United States Olympic Committee, working for the Olympic Council on Sports Medicine. Subsequent to that, she was the Regional Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in New York City. Helen now resides in Mechanicsville, Virginia, with her husband of 36 years, Gene and her rescue beagle, Quinn. She has an adult daughter, Alexa, and a four-footed “grandson” Zander, an equestrian show jumper whom she is bankrolling in order to keep him in the manner to which he is accustomed.

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