The (Im)Possibility of a Holiday

Bullito I am under the impression that a holiday should be a respite from memory and planning, but all I seem able to do, now, on my holiday, is remember and plan. Or not plan, as the case may be. I mostly just think wistfully of the inevitable return to the workday slog, think I should appreciate my freedom now, when I have it, think why am I not doing more with it?

The unbelievable pressure of freedom leads me to do nothing at all; I feel like Geoff Dyer trying to write his study of D.H. Lawrence - or rather not trying, rather doing everything in his power to not write it under the guise of doing everyone in his power to write it. The problem is that I'm sure, on a holiday, you're meant to do both nothing at all, and everything you always mean to do but never quite get around to, simultaneously. And you just end up being caught in the middle, in a space bordered on all sides by a Great Wall of Impossibility.

Maybe it is the fact of being in the house that I grew up in. Other versions of myself - the horse-obsessed child, the secretive adolescent, the sullen teenager - keep encroaching. In a cupboard in the room we're staying in is a stack of journals. I began the first volume in my twelfth year, although I had been making notes in a journal-like fashion for many years before that. I tried reading it, but it was too shy-making, as Agatha Runcible might have said; I did not like to think I had been (even though I already had been) a 12-year-old girl who wrote like the male narrator of a bad 1930s mystery novel because she had mostly been reading Agatha Christie and hadn't yet learned to distinguish the past from the present, entirely.

It's possible that this is the root of all of it; the impossibility of hiding from oneself. A holiday, ostensibly, is a space in which to briefly hide, but in so being, it becomes also a space in which it is impossible to hide.

I keep thinking of one winter on the ranch; I was still in high school, but I had a driver's licence, and every morning I would drive to the beach at Bullito with the dog and we would walk through the mist to the sea wall and peer out at the glass-green Pacific Ocean. I always wore a thick blue wool jumper and a pair of cargo pants. I don't know where my parents were; in my head, this was a routine that went on for weeks, but I don't think I can have been left alone at the house for more than a few days. I would drive back home and have an early lunch of avocado on toast and milky chai and the way the hills had turned green after a rain put me in mind of England, so I would research study abroad programs in Oxford. The way this situation has been inverted is funny - from our home in England, I think of it nostalgically, but in the moment that I was there, on the beach, at the table with my chai, dreaming of foreign shores, I was thinking as nostalgically as one possibly can about the future. I was planning, now I am remembering, though I hardly know the difference.