The Full Suburban: Vacations unleash On-the-Ledge Julia

Asoka Elon

As of this writing, spring break is coming right up, and that means Logan has a big job ahead of him because he is the person responsible for talking me down off the figurative ledge onto which I climb every time we take a family vacation.

I’ve heard from multiple people that vacations are supposed to be fun and rejuvenating, but I have a special knack for turning them into anything but. Left to my own devices, I will micromanage the heck out of any family outing, stressing everyone out about everything from getting to the airport on time to whether there will be enough shampoo at our Airbnb.

This year’s family vacation is particularly daunting: We’re taking the week of spring break to see historical sites in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. This involves a transcontinental flight, different places for lodging every night, lots of meals on the road and finicky weather patterns that leave me wondering if we should pack shorts, snow parkas, rain boots or all of the above.

For about a week now, I’ve been seeing the fear slowly creep into Logan’s face every time we start discussing our trip. He knows that On-the-Ledge Julia is lurking just waiting to be unleashed.

“What about all the meals we’ll be eating during our trip?” I’ll lament as we get ready for bed one night. “Some days, we’ll have breakfast provided by the hotel, but other days we’ll be on our own. Can you imagine starting each day by blowing $80 at McDonald’s?”

“I mean … maybe we could get a little cooler and keep a few things inside it for meals on the road?” Logan will suggest, naively thinking he is being helpful.

“A cooler?!” I’ll shriek. “We’ll be lucky if we can fit all our stuff in the back of the rental van as it is let alone a cooler. Why do we always pack so much? What have I done wrong as a mother?”

“It’ll be OK,” Logan will say, climbing into bed and turning off his light. “Whatever you decide to do is fine.” He’s not being passive-aggressive; he just truly believes that, no matter what, everything is going to work out. As you can tell, I believe the opposite.

One incident that we laugh about now but that seemed very unfunny at the moment happened about six years ago when Logan and I were taking what was supposed to be a romantic trip to New York City.

Things hit the fan right off the bat when we were boarding the plane in Spokane, and I glanced out the window as the luggage was being loaded onto the plane. I saw what I assumed was my nondescript black suitcase sitting next to Logan’s very distinctive yellow-and-black duffel bag, which looked like something a person would use if they were about to scale Mt. Everest.

As I watched, the Everest duffel bag was placed on the ramp heading into the plane, but the black suitcase was left behind. “That’s my bag!” I exclaimed to Logan as we found our seats. “They loaded yours and then forgot about mine!”

I thought about tapping wildly on the window to alert the baggage workers or talking to a flight attendant so that she could relay the message. “I’m sure they’re not forgetting your bag,” Logan said patiently.

“Easy for you to say,” I snapped back, still watching everyone’s luggage except (what I assumed to be) mine making it onto the plane. “You’re not the one who’s going to be brushing your teeth with your finger and buying pajamas at a Manhattan drugstore at midnight.”

Logan did his best, but this was a ledge I would not be talked down from until – lo and behold – I was reunited with my never-missing luggage when our flight landed five hours later at JFK. You can see why Logan is sweating bullets right now as we prepare for our trip, can you not?

I’ve told myself this trip will be different, that I’ll just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may. But if those chips somehow don’t fit in the cooler in the back of our car, Logan’s going to need to start talking – and fast.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at [email protected]

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