I had a week off earlier this month. Even though it's summer and when I scroll through my Instagram feed it seems like the whole world is not at work, it felt weird.
I typically save all my holidays up for Christmas so I can take a glorious expanse of time off in December.
(This is preferred for a few reasons.
I worked retail in my 20s when you were lucky to get 10 minutes to gulp down a lukewarm solo cup of eggnog before dashing back to the retail sales floor to help a clueless cuckolded man in a jean jacket try to find a gift for his wife on December 24th at 7:59 pm.
I grew up in front of the television and learned that even if you hate everyone and everything, Christmas is magical. It is a plump embrace of fragrant pine needles, turkey gravy, candy canes sucked so vigorously they turn into weapons, fluffy shortbread that is impossibly fragile and buttery in your mouth, and piles of presents nearly toppling over you as you snake under the tree subtly trying to see if they're for you or your ingrate brother.
At Christmas you can anaconda swallow a whole box of Turtles chocolates and not have to suck your gut in because you're appropriately draped in many layers of fabric to fight off the chill creeping along the window panes. (Ok, it rarely gets snow-cold here but long fluffy sweaters with too-long sleeves that you can tuck your fists up into are still totally necessary and wondrous.)
At Christmas you can drunkenly tell everyone you love how much you love them and at Christmas you can nap in a room full of people and nobody will kick your legs off the couch and at Christmas you only have to think about "I never want this to stop."
At Christmas you invent Dipmas so if you're a wife and Mom you don't have to bid everyone farewell on Christmas Day as you hole up in the kitchen for eleventy hours making a meal you saw on television and googling "why is the gravy chewy?"
Then you hit the sweet spot on December 26th when all the obligations are over, the piles of crushed wrapping paper are in lopsided trash bags by the curb and there is a sweet fog of contentment gently settled over everything.
So, I take my holidays in December.)
Until this summer when we needed to patchwork a childcare schedule together and it seemed only right that as the Mom I should probably take a shift. The week loomed, long and empty before us. I was determined to make each day count. We had a camping trip planned for the end of the week, so I had three days to make some magic around the city.
One the third day of one-on-one with my 5-year-old, I called in reinforcements. My friend Heather (the lovely genius behind Life, Love & The Pursuit of Play & Creative Sides) and her two gorgeous babes met us at Playland.
If you're not familiar, Playland is a vast acreage of an amusement park, riddled with rides, wild-eyed parents pushing strollers loaded with all the things, small children bolting, and food that you don't want but you pay $45 dollars for because you have no choice.
It was overcast for the first hour. The kids were stoked to be alive, on rides and eating $8 bags of high-energy-and-inevitable-crash spun sugar.
Then the sun came out and I agreed to go on the ferris wheel and swiftly remembered that if the loading and unloading part of the ride makes you fear for your everloving life it's maybe time to retire from this kind of "fun."
Does it look like I think I'm about to die in this picture? Because I was 45% sure this was it.
After scraping together the last of her college fund for a face-painted rose, we bid adieu to friends and carnies alike and got in line for the bus.
Being car-free has many advantages but also it's terrible, like when you're DONE and you want to go HOME.
You don't want to jump in line with 50+ other impatient people who are also hot, with oozing sweaty hairlines, feet gently throbbing, and stomachs noisily working their way through cotton candy and the illegal food dye used to make it SO pink and SO blue.
The bus finally arrived and we plopped down with relief, affixing the back of our bare legs to the scratchy fabric seats. I offhandedly listened to a group of pre-teens and teenagers making their foreign but familiar small talk. A quick flurry of movement made me pay more attention - seats were abruptly being changed and voices dropped low with concern.
A red-head female, maybe 14, was now sitting in the deepest corner of the back of the bus, and she looked green.
Her sweet angel brother, maybe 12, kept asking, "Are you okay, should we get off, do you need some air?" And I wanted to lean over and say, "LISTEN TO THIS BEAUTIFUL BOY AND HIS WELL-BEYOND-HIS-YEARS WISDOM." But the barf came and I heard it and snapped my head back the other way because I am pretty good with life's fluids, but vomit makes me want to vomit and I cannot be cool Mom on the bus if I'm holding a puddle of my own stomach juice in my hands.
Her sweet brother, thinking it was the right thing to do, ran to tell the driver, which turned out to be a BAD MOVE, kid. The driver swerved the bus to the curb, stood up with an over-exaggerated sigh as he pulled on his emergency vest, and told us we all had to get off. I feebly raised my voice and asked if anyone had any napkins. We can handle this! Let us handle this! And by "we" I mean the idiot who ate caesar salad then went on a million rides and wouldn't listen to her Mother Teresa-reincarnated brother and RUINED EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE.
Instead we all had to troop off the bus (because BC Transit considers barf a "biohazard"), varying degrees of annoyance on our faces plain for all to see. I heard Vomit Girl talking to her parent on her phone MUCH too casually about how she barfed and we all had to get off the bus and all I wanted to do was lunge over and grab that phone and say "Congratulations, you raised one valuable member of society and one complete waste of skin who with her fair complexion should probably not be allowed outside let alone into a heated wasteland of nausea and carnies."
I did not. But I THOUGHT the shit out of it.
I scanned the horizon bleakly for another bus to whisk us home and of course there was none.
Fuck this, I have a Visa. I flagged down a cab and we jumped in and it was air conditioned and everything was wonderful again.
Until, the next intersection like three blocks away, where a huge city bus, with an accordion belly so it can take corners and not wipe out everyone on the sidewalk, was perfectly and wonderfully stalled right smack dab in the middle of the intersection, blocking everything and everybody in rush hour traffic.
Except our cab! Because cab drivers clock in for duty and leave all their fucks behind and he squeezed us past so tightly that I held my breath, thinking that would help, and we continued on home.
If we had still been on that bus, we wouldn't have made it through. So, in the dumbest and grossest way, that barf totally saved our evening.