Lessons Learned on Vacation with my (ex) boyfriend
Half the joy of vacation is who you spend it with. Nothing makes a vacation more enjoyable than spending it with people you love (besides having copious amounts of money to spend).
The people you spend your vacation with define it as much as the destination and all its offerings. Depending on who you’re with will help determine what destination offerings you embrace and experience. Without that loved one, in this case a significant other, your vacation would be different than if you were with all your girlfriends.
Creating and sharing memories with a person is one of the greatest things you can do. Memories deepen connections, strengthen relationships, and increase happiness. Plus you love the person – why wouldn’t you want to create memories with them?
Unfortunately, not all relationships last. But it doesn’t make the memories any less beautiful - there’s beauty in pain and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Clichés till the death, but as true as humans needing oxygen to live. Eventually you can come to terms with what it is, and realize you learned some lessons on vacation with them* (and a thing or two about life in general).
*We’ll refer to my ex as David.
Relationships Are About Compromise
I like to read on the beach, and David likes swim, wakeboard, boat, and fish on the water. I like to write by the fireplace, and David likes to shred on the snow. We were opposites attract in that sense, because I’m more passive while he’s active. It could make vacations boring for him when he’d rather be go-go-go-ing, and make vacations intimidating for me because I’m scared of falling face-first into the water and being dragged by a boat.
While we both had different ideas of what a vacation should be like, we (or at least I) learned to compromise and meet in the middle.
Maybe not every day was a reading day, and maybe not every day was a water day. Maybe some days we did both (like reading while the day heats up and then hitting the water for hours), or maybe we met in the middle (like relaxing on floats on the water), or maybe none at all and tried something different (like building a snowman and then destroying him by shooting bow and arrows at him).
Compromising and giving and taking is core to all relationships – and keeps both people happy.
Fun is More Fun When You Least Expect It
It was an Easter with snow on the ground, but a 50 degree temperature. Lounging out on the lake was still out of the equation, and so was hitting the slopes, but building a snowman was not. In fact, the snow was perfect for rolling.
After building our snowman, we still wanted to be outside. With so few options after using up the snow and leaving soggy ground, we came to the only logical (yet slightly insane*) idea to destroy our snowman by shooting him with a bow and arrow…. Then slinging metal balls at him with a sling shot… And finally tossing hatchets through him.
*I swear we’re all stable. For the most part.
Mr. Snowman put up a good fight, but we destroyed him to smithereens. And we found fun where we least expected it, but it made the fun that much better.
Half the Fun Is Getting There
There’s a reason people say “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” which I used to respectfully disagree. If I’m going on vacation, get me through the TSA security line ASAP, four hour flight, and to the beach. In ways, I thought traveling to the destination was a waste of time because I was taking time off for the destination, not the traveling.
Then David and I traveled together, and discovered we’re slap-happy in the car. We would:
* Sing in screamo (and try to scare each other with it)
* Eat unconventional gas station meals
* Stop for pokemon and pokestops
* Talk so much we would forget about music
* Play the alphabet game
The small quirks we had en route made the journey to the destination enjoyable, and pass in a moment’s notice.
As stated before, half the joy of vacation is who you spend it with, and if you travel with the right person, getting there can an adventure in itself.
Do Play with Fire
Summer is filled with bonfires that blaze into the night, especially around the Fourth of July. Growing up, I’d always loved fires and thought my dad was a master at making flames dance. Then David’s family introduced me to a new way to start a bonfire.
We lit the candles and took aim at the fire, looking like wizards out of Harry Potter with the colored sparks shooting out, hoping one of the sparks would light the fire. It may have taken a few roman candles (and someone with better aim), but eventually we sparked a fire in a pretty damn cool way.
Vacation is a Questionable Time to Introduce your SO
My family is crazy and weird (but awesome). I don’t introduce them to just anyone – especially during our 23-person family reunion – because well, we’re crazy and weird. At the time, I thought David was special enough for these introductions and being inducted into our crazy and weird ways. (After all, he was crazy and weird himself.)
No pressure or anything, right? Especially when you’re also meeting the dad for the first time. Definitely no pressure.*
The first words out of all my aunt’s and uncle’s mouths when they met David were, “I’m sorry about Rick.” It should be no surprise given those were their first words about my dad, and while we all laughed it off, David’s face read it all: ‘what the hell did I get into?’
Especially when my dad asked him to help pull a ladder that’d been buried by sand and two feet of water out of Lake Huron, because we’re Kruegers and we pull buried ladders out of lakes.
But he didn’t run away from my family and the unusual introduction. Then again, neither did my future sister-in-law when the first time my parents met her, and my dad was already stealing food off her plate.
Perhaps it’s simply my family that’s just questionable to meet, but more likely the lesson is to just embrace your parents meeting your SO, because they make for interesting stories.
Enjoy the Little Things
Every year, I take a last vacation up to Lake Huron to take my final swim of the year – as late as possible without getting frostbite. I decided to take David along with me to experience his first polar bear swim.
It was a sunny, 50 degree late October / early November day where we were just pushing it, but it was just something we had to do. So we ran into the cold water and dunked our bodies just enough to qualify as a last swim. Then 30 minutes later – somewhere between dashing back to the cabin for warmth and heading out to dinner – it began to snow!
Then as we left dinner, the snow has ceased but left the most beautiful sun set – a perfect way to end a bitter dip.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most athletic despite loving going to the gym. When David and I had the opportunity to hike Sleeping Bear dunes, I was pretty excited. It was a gorgeous day out and it could count as exercise. I told David, “I’m going to make these dunes my bitch.”
I was so, so, so wrong. Barely up the first dune and my lack of athleticism showed and had me wanting to roll back done the dune and to the car. David encouraged me and worked with me to take my time, rest as needed, drink plenty of fluids, and make it the 1.75 mile trek to Lake Michigan – and the 1.75 mile trek back to the car.
By him being supportive of me and never letting me quit, we accomplished the dunes. And I still made them my bitch – just at a slower pace.
Relationships, like vacations, will come and go. Learn from and enjoy both because you can only have one life – live it to greatness.
What lessons have you learned on vacation with your significant other?
Brianna Krueger is the Chief Editor for Wandering Educators
All photos courtesy and copyright Brianna Krueger