I’m going to Italy, and I’m not taking my husband or my daughter.
Whenever I tell anyone this, I generally get one of two reactions:
1. What’s wrong with your husband?
2. I wish I could do that. I could never leave my family for that long.
The people who respond with #1 assume that my husband must have a screw loose for not insisting that we all go together.
But my husband would never want to do what I’m doing in Italy, and neither would my daughter. My daughter only likes vacations that involve amusement park rides, macaroni and cheese, family style restaurants, and sandcastles. There will be none of that where I am headed. My husband likes vacations that involve snowboarding, dangerous cycling, sweat, delayed onset muscle soreness, and body odor.
If there is any of that where I am going, I will ask for a refund.
I’m going to Italy to drink espresso and wine. I’m going to Italy to eat my face off. I’m going to Italy to take cooking classes, but not too many because too many cooking classes would seem like work and there will be no work while I am in Italy. (Although there might be some tweeting, because, well, there just might be is all I’m saying). There will also be naps—as many as three a day. There will be books read by the villa pool. There might be horseback riding—but only if I’m in the mood and the horse agrees not to gallop. There will probably be some walks through the countryside.
I might even put on my running shoes. I’m not saying that I won’t.
But this is not a vacation that will revolve around exercise, healthy eating or staying a certain weight on the scale.
No, this vacation? It’s about self-indulgence. It’s about catching up on all of the sleep I’ve missed out on during the past 6 years. It’s about flavor—the flavor of olives, the flavor of fish, the flavor of wine–the flavor of all good food and drink.
I adore flavor.
I’ll be cooking flavor and I’ll be eating flavor.
I might even be dreaming flavor during all of the naps I’ll be taking. If I don’t have a multiple flavor orgasm while I am in Italy, then I will go to Italy again, and I will keep going to Italy until I do have one.
I am not normally a self-indulgent person. I am not normally an all-about-me person, either.
Normally? I’m the type of person who gives to others and takes little for herself. Normally, I’m the type of person who bends over backwards to ensure that everyone else in the room is happy.
But for this vacation I am going to embrace my abnormal side because this vacation is all about me. While in Italy, I’ll be doing exactly what I want to do. I will not be a stereotypical middle child and ever for one moment even think of saying, “Whatever you want to do will work for me.” No, I will not say those words on this vacation, and if I do, my good friend Deb—who will be traveling with me–has my permission to gag me with with a kalamata olive.
In Italy I will be doing what I want, and I will be doing what I want while I am eating kalamata olives, among many other culinary wonders.
What a gift.
Yes, it’s a gift, one that I’ve given to myself for my 40th birthday. It’s a gift, one that my husband has given to me because, yes, he loves me that much.
And it’s even a gift from Deb, too, because she allowed me to plan the perfect vacation for me—and she agreed to come along and share it with me, too.
I have tears in my eyes as I write this. That’s how loved I feel. I am so thankful for my husband and for Deb—because they adore me enough to encourage me to do this for myself.
And I am thankful for myself—for allowing myself this gift.
As for my family: they will survive without me. I will miss them. They will miss me. But I’ll be a much better mom and wife after this trip than I could ever be if I did not go.
I’m exhausted. I’m dropping balls. I need a break. This is the break I need.
I’ll be a better me in 9 days, and I’ll be a better cook, too. I’m somewhat certain that I’ll even be a better blogger.
That’s all important.
So ciao for a bit. I’m off to better myself.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.