I just got back from 10 days in the Bay Area. I was going to start out by saying that I don’t remember the last time I took a vacation that wasn’t tied somehow to conference travel, but yes I do. It was for New Years a few years ago, and also to the Bay Area. Hmm. Of course, that vacation had a few things working against it: (1) It was winter in San Francisco. (2) I got really sick, so I spent much of the time learning how to use a neti pot and feeling shitty. (3) I didn’t have tenure yet, so I spent the whole time feeling guilty and stressed about not working, as academics are wont to do.
This time around was different. Oh my god. Vacation. It is amazing. The husband and I spent four nights in San Francisco, which included outings to a Giants game, a blues club, Golden Gate park, and the fabulous farmers’ market at the Ferry Terminal. Summer in the City includes a lot of fog and cold in the mornings and evenings, but the days were just beautiful.
We then had two nights in the East Bay, which included a family wedding. The wedding was an evening affair, so we spent the day roaming around Berkeley’s campus. It was completely dead on a Sunday in the summer, but we still visited our old haunts of Evans Hall (sadly, we couldn’t get inside), the Campanile (happily, we did get to go up), Sproul Plaza (under construction), and Telegraph Ave (changed, but not nearly as much as Harvard Square has). We even walked to the husband’s old college house, the place where we met, hooked up, and caused much drama in our lives and one other. I’m not usually so nostalgic, but it was really lovely to spend a day saying, “I wonder if _______ is still there?” and then going to find out.
After the East Bay, we spent three nights in Napa. Since I graduated very shortly after turning 21 and was an impoverished college student while living there, I never really did the Wine Country thing. I had no idea what I was missing. Napa is just stunningly beautiful. It is one of the few places that I think might actually rival my little island paradise. There’s no ocean, but those vineyards know how to work a landscape. And all of the wine tasting was just wonderful. The vacation ended with a $1200 dinner at the French Laundry. Way out of our league, but I’m so glad we did it once.
I dread the credit card bills that are headed our way, especially given the year of half salary that my slacker sabbatical entails. But I regret not one moment of the vacation. I will spend the rest of the year living (a bit) frugally to make up for it. I just hope I don’t forget the joy of an actual work-free vacation. I hope I get to do it again soon, maybe without the Michelin 3-star restaurant coda.