Remember when we were in grade school and our teachers would start off the year by having us write an essay titled: What I Did On My Summer Vacation? It seemed such a boring topic, but now I get it. The teacher got us writing and also telling about ourselves. He/she could learn a lot about their student from those short essays.
Maybe it seemed boring because in the old days, we didn’t do much. But in the summer of 2022, our vacation wasn’t boring. Like so many, we were making up for lost time. People traveled in droves to the far corners of the world: to Europe, to Iceland, to Africa and Asia. We traveled too, but on the west coast. For us, it was all about getting together with family and friends we hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.
We started our trip in Seattle for our grandson Eli’s graduation from the University of Washington. We hadn’t been on a plane for almost a year. I’d been a seasoned traveler in 2019, but in June 2022, I’d forgotten a lot. Just walking in an airport seemed strange.
Once in Seattle, the weather reminded us why we had moved to California. As Eli drove us into the city from the airport, the down pour was so heavy I could barely see the lights of downtown. The rain continued into the following week, finally becoming a drizzle that frazzled my husband. The golf courses were so soaked that even when the deluge ended, no carts were allowed. No golf for Moe makes for a nerve wracked Cindy! That aside, the graduation was wonderful. And we got to meet Eli’s friends.
Seattle is very different than the city Moe and I grew up in. And Bellevue, the once sleepy suburb, is unrecognizable. On the one sunny day, we went to the University of Washington where we met. Mt. Rainier was out in all its glory. We walked around campus to Frosh Pond where Moe had first told me he was going to marry me. (I was eighteen and a freshman so I murmured something like, “that’s a nice thought,”). After having lunch at University Village, we took the nostalgia drive through the neighborhoods we grew up in. (Interestingly, these areas remain untouched by time.)
But as I said, the main agenda in Seattle was seeing family and friends. Our daughter lives in Bellevue, but she and the kids visit a lot. In contrast, we hadn’t seen Moe’s sister for four years! We spent Father’s Day with Moe’s cousins, their kids and grandkids and I got to spend time with my sister, my niece and her kids. Back in California, we had a family reunion with my side of the family, who we hadn’t seen since before Covid.
One rainy morning in Seattle, I had coffee with ten friends from high school. Half of them had gone to Stevens Elementary with me. I was the first one at Starbucks and started questioning myself about setting this up. What had I been thinking? I hadn’t seen these people for twenty-five years since our last reunion. I’d left Seattle thirty years ago. What would we have in common? What would we have to say to each other?
Three hours later, we were still talking. It was an interesting phenomenon: we were senior citizens now with many life experiences behind us, some of which we shared. But the childhood connection we’d had bonded us forever. Especially with the grade school kids. Part of who I am today is because of Sue Ann Kay, Judy Walseth, Sten Crissey and Sandra James. They sat beside me in class from 9 AM to 3:10 during my formative years. We absorbed the same school experiences, were in Brownies and Girl Scouts together, were student class officers together. Our family backgrounds were diverse, but our world view evolved in those classrooms.
I don’t remember how I used to end my “What I did on my Summer Vacation” essays years ago. This year, I can end by telling you how enriched I feel that I connected again with family and friends. My heart is full of gratitude.