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Craven: Vacation Impossible

08/26/10 7:55AM By Jay Craven
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(HOST)  Commentator, filmmaker and Marlboro College teacher Jay Craven recently spent a week on vacation.  Now, he thinks he needs another vacation - just to recuperate.

(CRAVEN)  I always wait till summer's closing moments to take a vacation.  I tell myself it's because, once autumn's chill starts to take hold in Vermont, I can usually buy one more week of warm weather by heading south.
I've come to realize that the real reason for my last minute flight is because I've got too much to do before then-it's OK, but this summer I found myself juggling a Burlington street festival, a town hall tour of teen sketch comedy, and the launch of a new Northeast Kingdom performance series.  And then there's the book I'm supposed to finish writing.  And an urgent assignment that landed on my desk two days before we left-and required three hours on the computer every morning while we were away.  Oy.

My wife Bess wasn't pleased.  She's right.  But I work in the arts-which is a lot like dairy farming.  You can't survive by just milking the cows.  You have to cut your own wood, tap the maples, tinker with the tractor, and grow strawberries on the side.  I once asked Barnet farmer Joe Roy what he'd do if he won the lottery.  "I could afford to keep farming a little longer," he said.

Which leads me to the other reason we wait to take our vacation till the last minute.  Money.  Bess and I always agree, right up through July, that Vermont's great and we can't afford to go away.  Then it dawns on us-if we don't get out of here, we'll go insane.

Then we search high and low for anyone who hasn't yet rented their place on Cape Cod-and will cut us a deal.  This year we found a half-price rental on Chappaquiddick, just a three-minute ride on a two-car ferry from Martha's Vineyard.  At $12 for the car plus four bucks each for my wife, teen-aged son, and his buddy.

Which brings me to my next point.  Teenagers.  Did I say vacation and teenagers in the same breath?  Forgive me.  I'll spare you the details.  It is sufficient to say that by day three of our so-called vacation, all I could do was stare aimlessly into the salt marshes and weep.  Where have I gone wrong and why me?

Between the daily outflow of cash, the flubbed connections trying to escape the exodus after the fireworks at Oak Bluffs, and the constant reminder by my son of how truly clueless I am-I would have preferred a three month stint in the St. J. Correctional Center.

Finally, unable to bear it any longer, I jumped into the fray, desperately sought even a small patch of common ground, and, by the time we got on the ferry back to the mainland, things actually felt relaxed.  My son and I even shared a scallop roll and I think I heard the words, "thank you."

How sweet it is.
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