Tomorrow we are embarking upon the type of vacation I have only known from afar.  It will be a trip where the memories will last a lifetime and we will return again year after year, telling anyone who will listen just how wonderful it truly is.  I have a feeling we are about to enter a secret club where members are only recognizable by their pretentious car magnets that identify their vacation spot of choice in secret code.  In fact,  the first item on my to-do list upon arrival is to march down to the local souvenir store , purchase one of these damn magnets, and slap it immediately on the back of our crappy mini-van. 

It will read OBX.

For the uninitiated, I am talking about the Outer Banks.  Living an hour from the New Jersey Shore and having in-laws in Newport ,RI, the 7 – 8 hour car ride down to North Carolina never held much appeal for us.  Even when friends would rave about the beaches or the size of the homes for rent, we would just assume its not for people who live north of the Mason Dixon line.  Still, I couldn’t help ignore the types of people who went to OBX.  I liked them.  They were the types of people who, if they laid their beach blanket down next to mine, I might strike up a conversation with the wife.  Our kids might become best friends over a drip castle.  The husbands would stand by the shoreline and talk about whatever husbands talk about when they stand at the shoreline.  They seemed like my people.

So one evening this past Winter when it was really cold and drippy outside, we were hanging out with our usual crew and decided we all needed to get away for Spring Break.  Together.  A few conversations later and we had four families signed up to go.

8 adults.  9 kids.  1 house on the beach.

This will either be the setting for a National Lampoon comedy or a Wes Craven horror film.  We found out recently that our vacation coincides with Biker Week in OBX.  So again – comedy or horror.  It’s a toss up.  What our group lacks in collective OBX experience, we make for in good humor.  Still, I’m hoping that no one dies in a horrific hot tub “accident”, especially yours truly who has been known to exude a certain rigidness that inspires people to want to drown me.

So for my own protection, I thought I propose some ground rules for the adults to consider upon our arrival:

  1. It takes a village. We are permitted to yell at any child at any time for any reason.  In fact, it would be preferable for parents to yell at children who are not their own because first, the kids will actually listen and second, it will make the real parents look so much nicer.
  2. Audibles encouraged. If a trip to shop for crafts or a fishing expedition seemed like a good idea at the time but has since gone rapidly down hill, pivot fast and don’t look back.
  3. Avoid the Bataan Death March. The likelihood of everyone wanting to do the same thing every day is low.  Do not force the children – or the adults – to participate in activities they do no want to do for the sake of being together.  Happy trumps together.  Say it with me.
  4. Hold your stones. I promise not to judge you when sleep past 10 a.m. if you don’t judge me when I want to go to bed at 9.  At least I won’t judge you out loud.  To anyone but my husband.  And anyone else within earshot.
  5. Pack light. I don’t mean you shouldn’t bring a carload of crap.  You should absolutely do that.  What I mean is leave all emotional baggage at home in Philly.  I need this advice more than anyone as I am already fretting about the work that will be waitng for me – or happening without me.    My goal is to be light and breezy, break free of my Type A shackles, and just enjoy being together with some of our closest friends and family.

Vacation is a gift – but only if you take it.  OBX – here we come.

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