Monday, July 13, 2015

The Hard Reality of An Easy Family Trip


I keep meaning to tell you about Miami.

Cory has always had a burning in his heart for the Magic City. It has a little to do with the food, a little to do with Dexter Morgan, and a lot to do with the music. For a man whose hips have never, ever swiveled, the Cuban/Latino-infused beats have a way with him. Like, it moves him. Literally, very slightly.

When we realized we would only be a couple hours away, it seemed like a no-brainer to go.

Funny thing: We were warned against it. By multiple people. "Everyone is naked there." But we threw caution to the wind, our dreams alight on the high hope that at least some of the good people of Southern Florida would clothe themselves for our arrival.

Our prime destination: Little Havana.
The research told us it was like stepping into a different country. I loved the sound of that.

As a multi-cultural family with a global worldview, the idea of traveling trans-Continentally is inspiring. I would love for my kids to experience the rich cultures God created. It's mind-blowing and important and I want them to see it for themselves, to really understand their place on the map and the obligation they have to others. I don't want no America-centric humans up in here. 

But.

As a family on a one-vacation-in-a-decade budget, it all seems....improbable. At least for now.

Voila, Miami.

Here's how we vacation when possible: Full immersion.

(Or in the case of Miami, 2/3-immersion, on account of the rampant rumored nudity.)

Forget the touristy stuff. We want to experience the real-worldness of a new place. Eat in their local dives. Walk the neighborhoods. Stare across the street at an ordinary, chain-link-fenced stucco home with a dilapidated swing-set and imagine what it feels like to step out the door in the morning and board the bus to school.

Cultures only run as deep as the humanity we're willing to notice, and the eagerness to simply imagine a different life has to be worth something.

So, that's what we did. We loaded up our rental car, buckled the kiddos hip-to-hip, blared Cuban music, and hit the road.


 
 

 
 






 {Ace Hardware, please.}


 {the mom is beginning to show early signs of despair...}









{Bob Goff doppelganger alert!}



 
Wasn't that a fun day? Aren't we darling?

Here's what happened an hour or so after we left the city: mass mayhem with broad displays of general unruliness, resulting in much bargaining/threatening/shouting, culminating in Cory yelling louder than he has yelled in at least three years of parenting, while barreling down a 4-lane highway deep in the mangroves of Southern Florida.

And that wasn't even the half of it.

After an overpriced dinner at the McDonald's drive-thru ($14 for the kids, and we tried to order cheap, say what?) and radio silence for the last 45 minutes, we strode wordlessly inside our condo, where Cory called a family meeting.

(Editorial note: We call family meetings roughly once every two years.)

Though the yelling and angst had run dry, the tears were just beginning, as evidenced by Ruby, who commenced sobbing.

Followed by me.

Silas marched to his little condo-bedroom-home and brought me a "Siley shirt" to make me "feel better" (cue more tears) and also offered one to Ruby, who politely declined.

Red-eyed and ashamed, we all felt so sorry.

The root of it was, we expected too much. THERE IS A COST TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL. Even when it's only pretend.

Silas made his rounds rubbing all the weepers' backs. Calvin sat stony-faced and exhausted. Cory sent us all to bed.

Maybe you've never been on a vacation in your entire life and you hate this time of year because of people like me who clog up your feed with pictures of palm fronds. Maybe you see my family looking so bright-eyed and sunkissed and think, "It must be nice to be them." Maybe you assume we always get along. Maybe you assume our home is usually peaceful. Maybe you assume I'm an awesome, patient, fun mom or that having a husband who works in the jail might be a handy card to keep in your hip pocket when the wildlife gets way, way too wild.

(That last part is true, but only for like the first month or so. Then it loses its punch and/or you feel guilty about making empty jail threats to minors. Whatever.)

We're all just humans, doing our best and failing often. The only thing I have to offer is my commitment to telling the truth on the internet. I'm not sure if it helps, but it sure can't hurt.

So there you have it. The best days can end in the most human ways.

Pass the mojitos.