Hurricanes and Earthquakes. REALLY?!

Today, my emotions have gone from sheer denial to feeling like I’ll suffocate from disappointment to standing on the couch yelling “Staycation 2011!” while Chumbawama’s “Tubthumpin’” played. (A How I Met Your Mother episode was on. Don’t judge.)

At one point this afternoon, my house shook. A big (by East Coast standards) earthquake vibrated through our fair town—along with most of the East Coast. That was odd. I felt it surely must be symbolic.

But back to our current problem: The vacation we saved for, paid for, looked SO forward to was supposed to happen next week. I’ve watched everyone in the world go on their various adventures while we spent our weekdays going to school/work, and our weekends going to Costco and Target. It would eventually be our turn, right?

Beach chairs and beach umbrellas were bought. Sunhats and extra sunblock. Beach towels. All those things we didn’t already have, because we had never gone to the beach on the East Coast before.

Well, Hurricane Irene is gaining power and ever more pinpointing her destruction on the little North Carolina island where we rented a house for next week. Landfall should occur right when we were scheduled to arrive. Tomorrow, they’ll update everyone on evacuations. At first I thought we could let the hurricane blow through and then show up. Ha! Apparently that’s not how it works. People aren’t allowed back for days, not to mention there's no guarantee the structure is still standing. Wrinkles like that.

Does this mean we get our money back? Nope. Not a penny. We were very careful not to do a single fun thing this summer so we could rent the stupid house, so even though we’re scheduled to be off work and school all next week, we have nowhere to go. I know that sounds pathetic, but it’s true. We can’t in good conscience allocate funds to go do a Plan B somewhere. Charlotte’s tuition goes up September 1st and the stocks just nose-dived in the past few weeks. It would be irresponsible.

I’m trying to keep things in perspective. All family members are alive and in good health. We have a nice house. Plenty of food. Jobs. Freaking jobs we can go to next week after all. There's a depressing thought.

But we really needed this. We needed a break, we needed to GET AWAY—Chris especially, as he has worked so much and so hard lately. I fear for his health, not to mention his sanity. And we don’t do breaks like normal families. We don’t have the extended family over for a BBQ. We no longer go to something like the symphony or ballet. We don’t do long weekends away. Hell, we very rarely go out to dinner! We just never, ever LEAVE. (Well, Chris has business trips, but I don’t think those count. But I'm jealous of them, so maybe they count a little bit.)

But what can we do? We can pout or we can make the best of it. I studied a U.S. map and scoured online for last-minute travel deals to places like West Virginia or Pennsylvania. I even priced out the possibility of Disneyworld in Orlando, as they had some amazing last-minute deals. A cruise to the Bahamas was totally doable, but the hurricane is supposed to flatten the islands. And who wants to vacation at a natural disaster scene? But after some thought, we decided it just wasn’t worth the financial hit of going someplace new. Frankly, we didn’t budget for TWO vacations. Just one. Bummer we blew our summer travel budget on someplace we can’t get to.

I hope this doesn’t sound too depressing. There is the possibility the hurricane will move east and not land on the Carolina shore. That’s our hope—duh. But we’ve begun the mental work of preparing for plain old-fashioned disappointment. Unpacking the stuff that has been packed. Putting beach stuff in the basement for next year. It’s not tragic. Really, it’s not.

When Chris got home with Charlotte (I telecommuted today), Charlotte peered around the doorway, her face pink and lit up. When she saw me, she ran toward me and practically jumped into my arms, laughing like she was the happiest girl ever. What more do we need, eh? As long as I have that girl’s smile grinning at me and my dude’s hand in mine, we’ve got it all.

We’re incredibly disappointed at what most weather models show as a lost vacation, but we’re determined to make the best of our situation. Staycation 2011 will be the GREATEST STAYCATION EVER. Just you watch and see!


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