STAYCATION / by Micaela

Filed under Things that are currently pissing me off about other people: It's August and everyone is going on vacation.

Lula's pediatrician, OT, PT, and social worker are all gone at some point in August, not to mention the myriad of friends and family who are heading for distant lands. Despite the whole myth about American's not taking vacations, when you really really can't take a vacation, this place looks like Paris in August.

Sam's family just returned from their croft on the north coast of Scotland. It is a place so dear to us that the kids are named after two islands up there, Roan and Neave. Normally we would be with them, going for walks to Slettle to pick mussels, out in the boat to catch mackerel or check the lobster pots, or visiting Bella and Uisdean, their neighbors of 50 years, for whiskey, tea, and biscuits.

The Croft at sunset

Hiking up Ben Hope

Me fishing. Yes, this is summer.

Otherwise we would be up at my dads house an hour north of NYC in the Hudson Valley. Until he sold the house last year it was the perfect weekend escape, close enough to barrel up to at the last minute, but light years in atmosphere from the city. It was a log cabin on a lake, where we would paddle out in a canoe to a floating dock with a picnic and an ecstatically happy terrier swimming ahead.

We took the kids there twice last summer, before g-tubes and night nurses and ER visits and oxygen tanks, when we knew there was something wrong but still hopeful that everything would sort itself out. I think of that time as miraculously casual and simple even though we were still up all night with two fussy babies. It was how we imagined things would be when we had kids.

Sam, Cecelia, Jason, and Lupa at the house

Cecelia and Roan at Dia Beacon

Sam and Lula at Dia Beacon

The kids on the deck at night

Our biggest, most consistent dream for years was to buy a house in the country. We were big on acreage, maybe even lakefront, and the house could be almost anything worth a carpenter's time and energy. We squandered countless Sunday afternoons perusing real estate listings. We even went on road trips to sad little towns near New Paltz, poking through rusty cabins with artificial ponds. Nothing was right yet, but we knew our escape was eminent.

Truthfully we won't be going anywhere for more than a few hours for a very long time. Questions of weekend getaways have been superseded by questions of wheelchair accessibility and proximity to a major hospital. And even if we could somehow get it together to go anywhere with Lula she is easily overwhelmed by travel, so it could be putting her through misery for only our benefit. But I don't want to go anywhere without her either. It makes me feel trapped, the four of us tethered to this disease or condition that no one asked for. It leads to envy, which leads to anger, which leads to sadness and it's a cycle I want to try to interrupt.

Sam already has a jump on this. He's reading a book, called How to Be Sick: A Buddhist Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. It talks about how to be happy for other people who can do things you can't. The author is actually housebound, which gave me pause, because at least we manage to leave the house with Lula every day.

Not exactly a bedtime story

When you can't dream of, say, a week on the north coast of Scotland or even upstate New York you have to summon things to look forward to in your own back yard.

With a park two blocks away, a grocery, two pharmacies, and a myriad of playgrounds, cafes, restaurants and shops within a few blocks (not to mention the pool across the street and the tennis courts in the park) our neighborhood definitely qualifies as a gilded prison. It's a small but very civilized world. We have the farmers market and the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays, Music in the Park on Wednesday's, and "Beer and Babies" at a local beer garden when it gets cold. It's not vacation but momentary escape is possible if for only a few minutes at a time.

Gracie and Roan at the monument with all the exercise fanatics at 7am

The gorgeous Pratt campus

So any of you who are headed somewhere beyond Brooklyn please send us a postcard, and when you get back please pay us a visit and tell us about your travels.