Chasing the sun, after stressing over the chase

I raise the white flag.

I am officially surrendering to the almighty powers of a winter that has chilled my bones and caused more than its fair share of mayhem to our deadlines. You have defeated me with your snow and arctic blasts of wind, Mr. Winter, caused my dogs to budget their relief times a bit more strictly and generally made life a little less enjoyable this year.

I’m out.

By the time you read this column, I will be sitting in Florida, hopefully draped in a blanket of sunshine and alternating my most strenuous activities between pouring another cold drink and flipping the page of my book. My cell phone will be sitting next to me, not so I can keep up with what’s happening at the office, but more because I don’t want to miss my next turn at Words With Friends.

That’s right. I’m checking out for a week. One week of physical relief from the harshness of winter, and one week away from the mental rigors of work. I will not be tied down by the demands of our conception of time and space, nor will I allow myself to be subjugated by what society demands of me at any given time. If it does not involve food, rum or music, I’m not playing. For this one week, that little hamster running on the wheel in my mind goes into hibernation, giving way to a sleeping sloth that plans to do little more than stretch and yawn between naps.

That all sounds nice, right?

Sure, it does. That’s what we all envision every time we prepare to go wherever it is we go to escape life for short increments. We all fantasize of sleeping until our eyes naturally open, eating whatever we feel like without repercussions and generally putting ourselves in a frame of mind that is devoid of thoughts concerning bills, screaming children, incontinent dogs or bursted water pipes. We believe that once we leave our regular ZIP code, all bets are off and we instantly transform into a Hawaiian shirt-wearing party animal that answers to no man.

Only, it doesn’t always go exactly like that, does it? Vacations often come with a two-week window in advance of departure that is filled with anxiety, stress and any other words that describe an already-bald man pulling non-existent hair from his barren dome.

There are the typical miscommunications or errors regarding reservations, the endless parade of laundry to get the stale, wrinkled summer clothes that have been stowed away since Labor Day looking and smelling like ßclothes that belong on a person who does not live in a van down by the river.

I’ll stop here for a second. Some of you got that last joke, and I’m sure some of you didn’t. If you are in that latter group, be assured that you did not miss a good joke, by any means. It was a failed attempt by me at reviving an old “Saturday Night Live” skit involving Chris Farley and ...

But I digress.

My point, if I can even remember anymore, was that planning for vacations alone make the actual deed of going on vacation seem almost not worth the trouble. There are financial strains, time constraints and logistical nightmares. Flying seems more efficient and easy, but limits what you can pack and often forces you to rent a car at your destination.

Driving long distances requires... well, driving long distances with people you might have previously cared for before the drive began, but now only appear as noisy threats to your hopes of avoiding a long period of incarceration during your lifetime.

Preparing yourself to leave work for a week? Yeah, good luck with that. All the planning in the world does not fully prepare you for everything you have to accomplish first, and how many checklists can one complete before one realizes it is a futile effort in attacking the infinite? In the back of your mind, you are thinking, “Just get through all this stuff and you won’t have to worry at all while you’re away.”

However, if you are lucky like I am and love your job, it never leaves your mind at any time. It’s in your mind while you are ordering that third rum drink of lunch, and it is in your mind again while you are lying in a spinning bed, wondering out loud how three rum drinks at lunch became 14 rum drinks by the end of dinner, and you’ve never left your seat in between.

Does it sound like I’m complaining? Yeah, I could see that. In fact, I am. But I shouldn’t be, to be honest. I get to enjoy a week away from this freezer we call a winter and spend a week doing whatever I feel like. Those are good things.

So, I attack this vacation with optimism and hope, knowing I’ll be anxious to return to work by about Day 3.

Until then, here’s to the sun.