Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vacation Fake Out

Last year, I stood in Times Square with some of my best friends in the world. “The Color Purple” on Broadway, purses on Canal Street, and dinner in Little Italy filled our weekend. We traveled by plane, train, and automobile to gather together for our annual Girls’ Weekend.

We decided in college that people rarely get one really great friend in life; somehow we were lucky enough to have a handful come along. So, each year, we celebrate that friendship with a hand-picked vacation. All travelers decide on one vacation spot where we plan to travel the next year. This year, we had hoped to travel to Washington, D.C.

However, plans can change. Stephanie is eight months pregnant; Ellen is nursing; Sarah has two babies under the age of three. During Christmas, the women dropped from the trip one-by-one. We decided to postpone Girls’ Weekend next year.

When our vacation weekend rolled around, I found myself overwhelmingly disappointed. I should have been hopping on a plane to meet my friends under the Nation’s Capital. Instead, I sat and painted my toenails.

Everything can change in a moment. My cell phone buzzed with a text message from Ashley. “Noon tomorrow. Spa Sydell. Spend the night at the Westin. Girl, we are going on vacation!” The three of us who live around Atlanta would gather anyway.

My brain spun as I formulated our vacation weekend rules. #1: No one we meet can know we are from Atlanta. #2: We only eat at restaurants recommended by someone. #3: We must ride in a cab once we arrive. #4: We must resume all vacation spending behavior (magnets, postcards, celebratory shoes, etc).

So, Ashley, Cathy, and I walked into the spa last Saturday as visitors in our own hometown. After our delicious spa experience, we shopped in the boutiques on the block. “Excuse me,” I asked the girl behind the counter,” if you were on vacation with your girlfriends, where would you eat lunch?” She stopped, smiled, and directed us to her favorite restaurant just down the road. We sat and enjoyed homemade guacamole and did not count one calorie because they evaporate on vacation. During lunch, a dear couple from my church stopped by our table to say hello. They looked a bit confused when I told them I was on vacation; they were just in town for a Tech game.

The rest of our vacation filled up with movies in the room, fantastic restaurants, cab rides, pictures, dessert at the Sun Dial, hysterical laughter, free therapy from two ladies who are wise beyond their years, and endless conversation with lifelong friends. It was as grand as New York City.

How could one small decision to walk in my own town with a new purpose change my entire experience? Nothing felt the same.

My mother tells about how her life changed when she made a decision to become a follower of Jesus. She always tells that she walked outside and “saw the color green for the first time” that afternoon that she said a simple prayer. It was if God opened her eyes when she opened her heart.

Last weekend, I walked through my city as if I was a visitor. My only purpose was enjoying every second. This weekend, we will all walk through our own town just as we do every day. Maybe we can really see God’s design in it. If we are lucky, we might even see the color green.

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