Trains, planes, and several automobiles got me around all last week for a vacation of a particularly satisfying type. Growing up in NYC has of course taught me to point and laugh at tourists; therefore I did very little tourism and did not wear a fanny pack. Mostly I looked at scenery, read books, and talked to people. If you don't want the detailed report just skip on down to face time in the last few paragraphs...
I drove to tri-cities, washington, and stayed overnight there with a friendly couple who regularly visit the Lostine Church. I took Amtrak from there to Portland, spending my morning on the train in conversation with a friendly Methodist, and my afternoon browsing delightedly at Powell's bookstore! The whole of Wallowa County libraries could fit in one room of Powell's.
Another train took me down to the Bay Area, and I befriended a beautiful young Buddhist who insisted he only needed about 4 hours of sleep because he meditated so much. He wanted to know whether Jesus was killed because he was an activist or because he was a True Philosopher. He also multi-tasked very well (not my expectation of a Buddhist) on iPod touch, blackberry, and laptop while talking with me.
Back in the Bay Area I helped Noribug babysit (really hard work playing with an adorable baby) and checked in with some past and future housemates. I spent the evening in a Christian Community house in Oakland, eating, talking, cooking, baking. Drove down to San Diego before traffic-time hit, walked on the beach with friends, ate out, had a few beers, talked, talked, talked.
There was an epic wedding the next day, of two lovely young people who have no idea what the future holds for them, who chose Ruth's words to Naomi as their wedding text, and who really know how to throw a good dance party.
I drove to LA and had a sister-day: cut her hair in the backyard, picked up shells on the beach, swam in the Pacific in our clothes. Partied with a high school friend that evening (she dressed as a rainbow, I as a black-and-white optical illusion (cross your eyes and I disappear?)) and took off again in the morning. The flights back to tri-cities were my only antisocial time. Airports are not "my" territory. No one chats, no one smiles, everyone listens to their iPods, the food is nasty. I gritted my teeth and got through the experience remembering what my dear fruitarian boyfriend used to say: "just remember we weren't created to fly like that."
Also, the people were not of my demographic on the plane. The folks sitting across from me on the first plane talked about all the caribbean islands they have been to. My seatmate on the second plane had just gotten back from Hawaii: I judgmentally assume she'd returned from the stereotypical vacation that costs a lot of money, pampers you, gets you to see "the sights."
My vacation was all about "face time." All about looking folks in the eye, saying "I've missed you!" and catching up, dancing with them, teasing them, eating drinking and laughing with them. Other people vacation to see a destination -- I vacation to see people. I am looking forward to celebrating my next semester break (between finishing this internship and starting back up at seminary) with an unlimited Amtrak pass. I am hopping from city to city, investing in my social circle. My friends are my treasure.