staycation-chicagoStay-cation. Isn’t that a clever word? The concept of staying home on a week off, but still pretending you are away on holiday. It’s a celebration of sorts, but a very, very responsible one. Won’t it be fun, you tell each other as you clink glasses. What a good idea. We’ll save a little coin, we’ll take time for romance, we’ll re-examine what a beautiful life we lead in the comfort of our own home.

When you’re in the planning stages of a stay-cation, you highlight the advantages. First, you will get to sleep in your own bed. No wrestling with flat pillows. No suspect comforters. Move to the bathroom and there are no tiny, white bars of soap that leave residue on your skin. No small bottles of inadequate conditioner.

Just soft hair and good sleeps, that’s what our week will be.

When it actually kicks off though, it becomes clear that relaxation really isn’t at the top of your list of priorities. Because, unlike actual getaways, you do, in fact, have a list of priorities. The patio umbrella needs to be fixed. The garage needs to be swept. Let’s replace all of the burned out light bulbs in the whole house.

When I start a stay-cation, I become very, very busy. I mop the basement. I wash baseboards and wipe down cupboards. I vacuum the porch. Then I mop it. Then dust it. Why do I do these things? I tell myself if I do them now, then, when our routine has resumed, I’ll be way ahead of the game.

So for the first part of my stay-cation, I am whirling around the house. I can try to read on the back deck, but then I’ll notice the arborvitaes are shedding some type of seed that needs to be swept away. Or I’ll rest on the couch, look over and the sun will be shining in at such an angle that I can see all of the dust that has collected on every minute surface of every piece of furniture. That should be wiped up, shouldn’t it? Yeah, might as well get it over with now.

This whirlwind of activity lasts about two to two-point-five days of the staycation. At that point, I start to get resentful. Not, to be clear, with anyone in particular. Just resentful in general, a General Resent, which is the most dangerous kind. My thought process? Hang on a second. Turns out this isn’t a vacation at all. This is just extra housework.

I start to look at Facebook pictures of people’s feet in Florida, their pretty pedicures and the blue waves lapping in the distance. I look down at my own feet and they’re dirty. Dirty from weeding the garden.

So I take a shower.

So begins the second stage of the staycation: The Veg. This part involves a whole lot of binge watching Netflix. The binge may start at 10 in the morning. It may end at 4 in the morning. But you rip through TV shows almost like it’s your job. “Blacklist.” “Narcos.” “Love.” “Girls.” “The League.” “The Office” for the third time. Hell, you don’t care. At this point, your only duty is to plug in your laptop so it doesn’t run out of juice in the middle of your show.

Eating? Well obviously that’s changed. Whereas in the first part of your staycation you were trying new recipes and getting fresh produce at your favorite vegetable stand, now you’re eating Saltines because you don’t want to go to the grocery store.

For example, yesterday I had a square slice of processed cheese. A few days before, it was part of a hotdog extravaganza dinner party featuring the Hawaiian dog and the Reuben dog and the Mexican dog with charred corn and queso fresco and roasted jalapeno.

Yesterday, just that square of tasteless lacy Swiss was my meal. I ate it in bed. Then a tablespoon of peanut butter. Then an empty hotdog bun an hour later. There were crumbs on me. I didn’t bother to wipe them off.

This second stage, it lasts a while. Like, probably up until the second-to-last day of your staycation when you wake up from your Netflix coma and realize time has been wasted. It’s at this point you might do something vacation-y. Like go for a hike. Or see a Legends game. Or go for a nice meal in Danville or Stanford or some other place where, if you had more time, you could stay in a bed and breakfast and really explore the area.

And then finally you’re on your last night of your staycation. You and your husband are a little shell shocked that routine will resume the next day. You’re slightly relieved by this because you know you’ll at least stop being so worthless, but you’re also thinking about all the wonderful, Pinterest-y things you might have accomplished if you were a better person. You vow to buy a pair of pinking shears so, for the next time, you can make some curtains. Possibly a table runner.

Then you try to take stock. You’ve saved a lot of money. You’re definitely caught up on television. The house is a little crumby, but still relatively clean. And next time? You’re getting a pedicure and going to Florida.

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