Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vacation Ramifications

I've been on vacation for the past two-and-a-half weeks. Admittedly "vacation" is a nebulous concept for me, since I live where I used to go for vacation.

Still, my sister comes annually and we stay at our family camp together. We wake up in a hydro-less little place our grandfather built 93 years ago on the shore of Lake Superior. We perk coffee on the propane heater and warm up the house a little (just enough to "take the chill off") on cool mornings by building a small fire in the woodstove. We make toast and eat local peaches and blueberries. We go out in a rowboat, and sometimes we swim (though putting on my swimsuit usually summons afternoon thundershowers). We talk, do silly art projects, work puzzles, read, talk some more, and drink wine coolers in Muskoka chairs on the beach during cocktail hour.

And then we come the half-kilometer back to the house, where I live and work the other 50 weeks of the year, to make supper and to take showers. Nobody said "being out at camp" required feeling yucky or being dirty. Showers feel good, and dishes are easier to clean and keep clean at a normal house.

It works for us. I always enjoy this time, and I'm always grateful for the abundance in which my family lives.

And this year, I'm aware more than ever the privilege demonstrated by so many items in the previous sentences.

Even the concept of "going on vacation"--it's out of financial possibility for many. Like me, decades ago, when I was just out of university, and like many seniors on fixed incomes that now cover grown "children" who want full-time work but struggle to find it, and when they find it, can't survive on it.

Still having a sister--thankfully, forty years ago, she had good health insurance and received effective treatment for a deadly disease that would have killed someone who didn't have insurance and/or who wasn't part of the middle class, who tends to receive better medical care in most systems.

Family property--it was claimed by and has since been held in the family through more than a few lean years and various deaths, all helped by the presence of my husband in the house next door, long before he became my husband. Yes, there's more to that story, but that's not the point.

Those are big things I'm grateful for. I'm aware of many "small" things, too.

Like enjoying an afternoon drink without worrying about anything more than whether I'm slightly more vulnerable in the unlikely event of impending violence. That is, I'm a woman, but I'm a white woman. Nobody judges me for buying or drinking an alcoholic beverage, and nobody judges the entire ethnic/gender/cultural group I belong to by how I behave.

Like being able to "ignore" politics, if I choose, for nearly three weeks, without worrying whether my healthcare will be taken from me, my marriage will be annulled, my body and health will somehow belong to a person who does violence to me, my right to vote will be removed, or my children or parents or grandparents will be deported.

And, just in the past few days, without worrying that groups of hate-filled people will decide I'm not fully human because of my ethnic or cultural background. Without worrying about the local newspaper of record printing a screed containing many factually incorrect statements that accuse me and others of my culture of freeloading.

Yes, I've been on vacation. But I'm still aware of the irresponsible behaviour of the media in my hometown. Of the violence in the streets of my home country. I may have been posting photos of dripping oars, laden tables, and sunrises, but I've been watching and fuming and grieving.

And I'm here, albeit late, to join the voices: what has been happening is not okay. And I'll join efforts locally and internationally to stop that BS.