So, I went on vacation. Yes, me, the idiot Polak with a 70 IQ, that’s 70 in euro’s, and it was a vacation I really did not want to go on. Why didn’t I want to go on vacation? Simple, I hate driving and I knew if I left the places I worked at would burn to the ground. Seriously, I truly believe that when I’m not at my job, shit will just fall apart. I’m sure some of you out there feel the same way. Also, if you do feel that way, then you know even though you are not at work, your mind still is. Matter of fact, if you are like me, then you check your work email every day even though you are not there, you even respond to said emails and plan your return accordingly. Yeah, that’s what I did. I have to because something inside of me just can’t let work go. Can’t breathe because the weight of responsibility is heavy upon my shoulders. Work is most of what I think about… the trains, the motors, the repairs and the problems that have arisen, will arise and the solutions both simple and complex that my brain can think of.
That’s just how I’m wired I suppose. I’m a 1 surrounded by 0’s sometimes. Not my fellow team-mates mind you but most of the people I come into daily contact with. (That’s binary talk if you don’t get the connection.) There is something in me that just can’t let go. Even on my days off I usually end up at the museum for a few minutes. Just to check things out. When there is flooding, snowfall, a noreaster, I’m the one first on scene checking to make sure all is well and nothing is damaged. It’s an affliction I can’t seem to shake.
However; occasionally, once in a great while, after years have passed, I am forced by family, friends and coworkers to unplug from work. Which I do reluctantly. I did so this past week. (I still checked in electronically but I did disconnect.)
My family and I drove halfway cross the continental united states to attend a family reunion made up of people I don’t know and some I do as well as some I have not seen for thirty years. Upon arrival at our destination, I tried to relax, sleep and basically decompress from life. The first day was easy. I was exhausted from traveling and driving. Food was eaten but not tasted. Sleep was deep but fitful and conversations were had in short, staccato bursts.
The second day was spent in a fugue state of eating too much, sitting in a hot tub and trying to find solace and privacy in an attempt to sort my thoughts. That is when the pain started. I felt my muscles starting to release the pent up tension of years of work and stress.
The third day I woke up and the pain in my tissue was worse, I could barely move and even the warm water and jets of the hot tub barely made a dent on what was going on within me. Once again I ate too much, I talked too much but yet, I managed to write a bit. (See previous blog.)
The fourth day, I actually woke up feeling human. I felt as if nothing in my life was too extreme or important and could wait another day. I can only think that what I felt then was what most people feel. I had no worries, no stress and no fires to put out. I was surrounded by my family, water and the feeling of actually being part of something larger than the life I had left behind so many miles away. This is when I met many of the strangers whose blood I share. I didn’t get to talk to them much, but spend a lot of time soaking up the sun, lazing around on an inner tube and splashing in the water. Upon my return to the cookout, some relatives had left, others lingered. I chilled, ate some more and made an attempt to connect with the blood of others.
The fifth day, I introduced my daughter to the wonderful yet terrible food of White Castles. She loved it. However; we were not alone, my cousin and two of his offspring came with us, his offspring devoured the sliders, cheese fries and onion wedges as quickly as a swarm of locusts go through a corn field in the middle states of our country. This day also brought more family into my life, people with whom are only a state away yet I’ve never truly met. We had things in common but we didn’t really speak of them. Instead we enjoyed the glow of long lost relatives in a comfortable and healthy setting.
Day six brought the thoughts of moving on. Of a twelve hour drive home and packing away my clothes and gifts. Memories of the recent days filled me with morose thoughts and dreams where I had made different choices in my life. Decisions where I didn’t stay on the eastern seaboard and moved back to the Midwest. Where I hadn’t worked for a shipyard, a machine shop, a police department or a museum. Where I had gone back to my roots and gotten a dead end job working in a factory that produced goods and services for the masses.
When all was packed away, with the exception of a pair of jeans, a tee-shirt, my bathing suit and Freddy, I went to the hot tub and spent almost two hours reflecting on the people who I rarely see who seem enamored with my existence. It felt good to know there are people out there who have a vested interest in me and my shenanigans. Those shenanigans seem to be far and few inbetween nowadays. I don’t have time to get up to no good now. Nope, I spend most of my time figuring out issues and problems that are presented to me by someone who is trying to hide the fact that their five year old just broke an unbreakable coated aircraft cable.
Day seven brought an early wake up, last minute packing of the vehicle, hugs, kisses and promises of staying in touch. Endless miles later, with my Zune cranking out a mixture of Willie Nelson, Clutch, Led Zepplin and Sea Shanties, I was standing outside of a Harley Davidson Dealership with six more hours of road ahead of me. My mind wasn’t on the journey, it was on my family.
A family who seems to love me no matter what, even though distance seems to keep us from being close we still manage to understand the earthreal connection that runs through our veins. Whether I’ve met them in the past, present or will know them in the future, we have an unbreakable bond.
Right now, as I type this, my small mind can’t even comprehend the ripples of the connections that have been made over the past week. I do know that I’m grateful for reconnecting with my long lost cousin in Seattle. Our late night conversations and our need for intellectual stimulus, I believe was fueled by our time we spent sitting on a patio, a driveway and in passing by our love for all things scientific, natural and obscure. It was truly an honor and a pleasure to find someone who is as smart if not smarter than the general public.
It was also a blessing to meet the folks who live their lives in the general humanity of life. People who try to eek out a living and pay bills in order to survive. People who try to keep their heads above water and keep the one true thing that is important to everyone in this life real.
It has truly been an honor and a priviledge to see some old faces as well as some new. I feel more blessed and honored to have met these great people. People who I would never have had a chance to meet otherwise.
Thank you all for a great week. You have enriched my life more than you will know and more than I will ever know.
For all you non-family members reading this, take pleasure and do what you can to meet the blood of your life. Learn from them and cherish the brief moments you have with them.
Have a great week.