Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Hats: An integral part of every vacation.

My father is a studious and professional white collar worker who drinks dry gin martinis, reads nonfiction books about physics, and MacGyvered a crude sous-vide for my mother out of an old beer cooler and a couple of plastic bags. All of this restrained, buttondown maturity flies right out the window the second he goes on vacation, though.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, the moment Dad got home from work on the night before we left for a family vacation he’d always burst through the door and shout, “Look out, everybody – here comes Vacation Guuuuuyyyyyy!” He’d then pump both fists in the air and waggle his ass back and forth, and Mom would do the same thing while yelling “Vacation Guuuuuyyyyyy!”, and I would always think to myself, “More people would understand me if they could just see what my home life was like…

Vacation Guy is basically just Dad, except he drinks beer at lunch, jokes around with tour guides and waiters at restaurants, and wears a tan colored TravelSmith sun hat and cargo pants with legs that zip off at the kneecap to turn into shorts. He bought this very practical ensemble for our trip to New Zealand and Australia when I was in fifth grade, and has worn it on every subsequent vacation whether the destination requires it or not. France, Napa Valley, Washington D.C., Montreal, New York City – if the Capps family is there, the patriarch is going to be wearing a hat and swapping smartass remarks with the waiter at the airport Chili’s.

Vacations were just a fact of life when I was growing up – my parents loved to travel and I was more than happy to go along for the ride. (It didn’t hurt that they usually pulled me out of school for these vacations, too.) At the time, I just sort of assumed that that was a thing that all adults did – work really hard all year to save up money, take some time off, put on their dorky hats and practical pants, and just go.

That idea faded as I got older and realized that I’d be lucky just to have a dismal, soul crushing job to take time off from in the first place, let alone enough disposable income to spend on tickets, hotels, and the all-important hat. When I settled on moving to Los Angeles I figured that basically nipped the vacation issue in the bud. Who needs to go on vacation when you live in a city with beaches, three amusement parks, 340 days of sunshine a year, and a thriving adult film industry?

This summer, I discovered the answer to that question: Me. I am the person who needs to go on vacation when I live in a city etc. I’ve reached the point that I desperately need to leave LA for a little while.

Los Angeles is arguably America’s second most reviled major city (we’re coming for you, Detroit!), and I think it’s kind of an unfair characterization. Sure, we’ve got pollution, sprawl, crime, and roving herds of Kardashians foraging for attention, but save for the infestation of surgically-enhanced Armenians I think you’d find a lot of those problems in most other big cities. The uncomfortable fact is that when large numbers of humans start sharing the same space, things get gross really quickly. Sure, I’m not crazy about LA, but unlike most of my friends in Oregon who refuse to come visit me here, I don’t think it’s an open trench full of blood and pubic hair.

The thing that’s getting to me is that LA is so enormous that you can go for months or years at a time without ever leaving. I’m not even kidding – between late December 2011 and July 2012, I didn’t set foot outside of Los Angeles County (save for a 45 minute jaunt to a beach just across the Ventura County line so I could dump fake oil on a five year old girl without getting arrested. Long story.)

It doesn’t help that absolutely everything here looks the same, making me feel kind of like I’m trapped in the Matrix. Also, did I mention that it’s been 95 degrees every day for the past five weeks? Or that it’s been 95 degrees every night for the past five weeks? Temperature here is somehow unrelated to the presence of the sun.

What’s more, I feel kind of like my career is stagnating. I’ve got a great job that I love, but I’m starting to worry that a daily routine and the financial security to order guac whenever I go to Chipotle is making me complacent. I could very easily spend years writing video game trailers; I’d be making good money and lousy headway into the entertainment industry, which is why I came to this open trench full of blood and pubic hair in the first place.

After a little over a year, I’m feeling burned out and not 100% thrilled with my progress thus far. So I’ve decided to take a vacation to clear my head and reassess what the fuck I’m doing with my life.

Friday after next I’m going to be taking a day off work and flying to San Francisco for the weekend - yes, while I hate flying, the one thing I hate more is spending six hours driving through Central California; if I liked the smell of cowshit I’d just go to Corvallis. BURN.

I don’t know what I’m hoping a quick trip to the setting of The Room is going to do for me, if anything at all. At the very least, it’ll be a break in my routine, which is definitely going to be good for me from a creative standpoint. I haven’t been to San Francisco since I was 16, and unlike San Diego it’s the closest city that isn’t going to be hotter than a phoenix’s asshole.

This is really the first official vacation I will have taken as an ‘adult’ – my ten week study abroad boondoggle with The Ex Girlfriend does not count – so I’m hoping to avoid any major missteps. My TravelSmith hat is in the mail and I just picked up my zip off cargo pants from the drycleaners.

Truman Capps is planning on taking the 'So I Married An Axe Murderer' reality tour.